Castle Personal Training

Castle Personal Training is a Corstorphine, Edinburgh based company who specialise in weightloss/toning and Pre and Post Natal exercise.

Blog 21-01-14 Just because it’s “not natural” doesn’t mean it’s bad for you

Hi guys,

As the brilliant Tim Minchin said “I don’t believe just because ideas are tenacious, it means they are worthy”

One of the most tenacious ideas out there at the moment seems to be that “If it’s not natural, it’s no good”. I have no idea when it all started but it’s a very popular thing to say these days. The “Natural” label is slapped on everything, even things that clearly can’t be “all natural” have the claim attached to them in an effort to make us believe that they are healthier than products that contain artificial ingredients.

Take Shakeology, by the guys of Beachbody fame, for instance, it claims to be made with “All natural ingredients” in an effort to make it sound healthier than their competitors. That, of course, completely ignores the fact that these ingredients have been heavily processed into a powder but that’s OK because it’s “all natural”. A lot of the comparisons between their product and other shakes are made on the bases of them “being better because they only contain natural ingredients”.

People associate natural with healthy and artificial with…erm…plastic bags or something. And since children, and small furry woodland creatures, can choke on plastic bags this means that artificial = unhealthy. This is a difficult mindset to get people out of even though it is clearly incorrect.


Let’s have a look at “Diet” drinks for instance. Obviously everyone likes a can of “fizzy pop” every now and again and one of the most popular ones is Diet Coke. Diet Coke uses aspartame as a sweetener. Just Google aspartame and the list of sites claiming it will give you cancer is incredibly long. Unfortunately, they are all wrong and are just scaremongering. Aspartame is the most heavily studied additive in the world and has been found by every Dr who studied it to be completely safe. The US FDA and the EFSA have looked at every single study ever done and found that the whole “cancer-link” is complete and utter nonsense but the idea persists in people’s minds.Now I’m not advocating that you start guzzling Diet coke, or any other fizzy drink, by the gallon as it’s clearly not healthy to do so..but don’t worry about it giving you cancer any time soon.

Colin DeWaay, uberbeastmode on FB, wrote a great blog about the safety of artificial sweeteners that you can find here. He has tonnes of other great articles on his website so check it out.

Here’s another example for you; Free range eggs are better than eggs from caged hens as the hens are happier, no? Well maybe not. A University of Bristol study into stress levels amongst chickens has found that caged hens are less-stressed than free range hens. What people picture when they hear the phrase “Caged hens” is this;


What the above really is is battery farming, a practice banned in the UK in 2012, and the picture is actually closer to this;


Don’t get me wrong, I understand that people want to see the below when they picture their food supply.

Image Nice organic chickens, don’t they look happy?

The problem with the above is that it’s not as great as it looks;

According to the study there are several issues with free range and organic farming ranging from cannibalism to risk of disease, and that definitely should be taken into account. Personally, since reading the study done by the UoB, I have switched from Free range eggs to the cheaper, furnished cage, eggs without any feelings of guilt. We go through about 45 eggs a week at the moment and that means a massive cost saving as the eggs are only half the price of free range eggs and about a 3rd of the price of organic eggs.

Finally I will briefly touch on the most dangerous of myths “nature has all the answers”. Unfortunately I come across a lot of people now who believe that homeopathic- and alternative medicine can cure all ills. Actually let me rephrase that; I come across a lot of people who sell homeopathic- and alternative medicine, or even special shakes, who claim that it can cure almost all ills and a lot of impressionable people who fall for the sales chat. 

The afore-mentioned Tim Minchin had the best riposte to this that I can think of so I will leave it up to him to respond to this

In the same way that there’s nothing wrong with conventional medicine there isn’t anything wrong with other things that are “not natural” but that have been well-tested and proven to be safe. Hell, in some cases non-natural is even better than “what nature provided”.


After all, Arsenic is also “all natural”


Your Friend,





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