Posted on 1 Comment

What is Real Food? Exposing Degrees of Processing

bread sliced with flour and whole grains

Food Available in the United States Today

73 percent of the United States’ food supply is ultra-processed. This is according to research from Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute. Ultra-processed foods have been successful in displacing ‘real food’ in most parts of the world. The TrueFood database, which captures and compares the degree of processing of thousands of foods, suggests that ultra-processed foods are 52 percent cheaper than less processed alternatives, on average. Their convenience, hyper-palatability, branding and ownership by transnational corporations, and aggressive marketing give ultra-processed foods enormous market advantages over all other food groups.

Convenience at the Expense of Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity prevalence among adults in the United States increased from 30.5 percent to 41.9 percent from 1999-2000 through 2017-March 2020. During the same time, the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7 percent to 9.2 percent. Among children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 years, the prevalence of obesity roughly doubled between 1988-1994 and 2017-2018.

Several factors contribute to excess weight gain among adults and youth. Among these are genetics, types and amounts of food and drinks consumed, sleep habits, medical conditions or medicines, and where and how people live. This includes their access to and ability to afford healthy foods and safe places to be active.

In supermarkets and food outlets, Americans have easy access to ultra-processed foods prepared using industrial techniques. Many health experts believe that heavily processed “foods” could be at the root of America’s soaring obesity and chronic disease rates. Ultra-processed foods make meals cheap and convenient, but they can lead to overeating and weight gain and may contribute to metabolic syndrome and chronic disease.

Ultra-processed foods make up more than half of the total dietary energy consumed in high-income countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. In American youths ages 2 to 19, 67 percent of daily calories come from ultra-processed foods.

Convenience is the attraction to our industrial food system. However, the efficiency and affordability come with reduced nutritional content, the loss of wholesome flavor, and the damaging impact that these foods have on our physical health.

What is Processed Food?

Typical health guidance advises us to avoid processed foods. However, almost all foods are processed to some extent, if only by preservation. Some processing is not harmful, such as pasteurization and other means of ensuring microbial safety.

However, processing can profoundly affect the healthfulness of foods. Four forms of processing have serious adverse effects on the quality of food: refining grains, partial hydrogenation of oils, refinement of sugar cane to make sugar, and adding excessive amounts of salt and other preservatives.

To determine how healthy a food is, we must evaluate the food as a whole rather than focus on one nutrient at a time. The NOVA classification system categorizes all foods and food products into four groups based on the nature, extent and purpose of the physical, biological and chemical processes they have undergone following separation from nature. There are four processing levels.

NOVA Classification Levels

Group 1Unprocessed or Minimally Processed Foods
Group 2Processed Culinary Ingredients
Group 3Processed Foods
Group 4Ultra-Processed Food and Drink Products

Group 1: Unprocessed or Minimally Processed Foods

Group 1 classification includes foods that have not been altered from their natural state; or that have only undergone minimal processes. These foods do not contain added substances such as salt, sugar, oils, or fats, but they may infrequently contain preservatives.

Unprocessed (natural) foods include the edible parts of plants (seeds, fruits, leaves, stems, roots) or of animals (muscle, offal, eggs, milk), and also fungi, algae and water, after separation from nature.

chopping red bell pepper on a cutting board. Jars of dried pasta and fresh vegetables are in the background.

Examples of Unprocessed or Minimally Processed Foods

Whole grainsFish
MilletsFresh and pasteurized milk
Wheat flourUnflavored yogurt
Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetablesLegumes
Unprocessed meats and poultriesNuts

Minimally processed foods are natural foods altered by processes that include removal of inedible or unwanted parts, drying, crushing, grinding, fractioning, filtering, roasting, boiling, non-alcoholic fermentation, pasteurization, refrigeration, chilling, freezing, placing in containers and vacuum-packaging. These processes are designed to preserve natural foods, to make them suitable for storage, or to make them safe or edible or more pleasant to consume. Processes such as canning, freezing, fermentation, and vacuum-packaging ensure the safety and preservation of food while maintaining a food’s nutritional integrity.

Group 2: Processed Culinary Ingredients

Group 2 classification includes substances used to prepare, season and cook Group 1 foods. These are derived from Group 1 foods or from nature by processes such as pressing, refining, grinding, crushing, milling and drying. Processed culinary ingredients are not meant to be consumed by themselves and are normally used for seasoning and cooking unprocessed or minimally processed foods.

A bottle of olive oil and a wooden spoon of green olives

Examples of Processed Culinary Ingredients

SugarMaple syrup
Plant oilsLard

Group 3: Processed Foods

Group 3 classification includes products manufactured by industry by adding group 2 ingredients to unprocessed or minimally processed foods to preserve or make them more palatable. The purpose of processing is to increase the durability of Group 1 foods and to make them more enjoyable by modifying or enhancing their sensory qualities. Processed foods may contain preservatives, antioxidants, and stabilizers.

anchovies on a plate and in a tin, with a bowl of green olives

Examples of Processed Foods

Canned/bottled vegetables and legumes
Fruits in syrup
Salted or sugared nuts and seeds
Canned fish and meats
Breads made of ingredients used in culinary preparations

Group 4: Ultra-Processed Foods

Group 4 classification consists of ready to eat/drink/heat industrial formulations that are made with multiple ingredients extracted from foods or synthesized in laboratories, while containing little whole foods. Ultra-processed foods are made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives. The overall purpose of ultra-processing is to create highly profitable, hyper-palatable ready to consume products with a long shelf-life.

In addition to Group 2 foods like salt, sugar, oils and fats, and preservatives, ultra-processed foods include ingredients not used in culinary preparations. Food substances of no or rare culinary use include varieties of sugars, modified oils, and protein sources. Cosmetic additives disguise undesirable sensory properties created by ingredients, processes or packaging, or else make the final product especially attractive to see, taste, smell and/or touch. Flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives are used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods or to disguise undesirable aspects of the final product.

These products are termed ‘ultra-processed’ because they are created through a series of industrial processes. Processing begins with the fractioning of whole foods into substances that include sugars, oils and fats, proteins, starches and fiber. These substances are often obtained from a few high-yield plant foods (corn, wheat, soya, cane or beet) and from puréeing or grinding animal carcasses. Some of these substances are then submitted to hydrolysis, hydrogenation, or other chemical modifications.

Subsequent processes involve the assembly of unmodified and modified food substances with little if any whole food using industrial techniques such as extrusion, moulding and pre-frying. Colors, flavors, emulsifiers and other additives are frequently added to make the final product palatable or hyper-palatable. Processing ends with sophisticated packaging that is often vivid and features health claims.

A woman sitting on the floor of a grocery store, surrounded by packaged chips

Examples of Ultra-Processed Foods

Carbonated drinksMass-produced packaged breads and buns
Fruit flavored drinksMargarines and other spreads
Sweet/savory packaged snacksCookies (biscuits)
CandiesPastries, cakes, cake mixes
Ready to eat/heat pizza, sandwich, burgerBreakfast cereals
Frozen or shelf-stable dishesPre-prepared pies, pasta and pizza dishes
ChocolatePoultry and fish nuggets and sticks
Powdered and packaged instant soups, noodlesSausages, burgers, hot dogs
Ice creamOther reconstituted meat products

Ultra-processed foods are hyper-palatable “industrial formulations” that stray from their organic origins. They are highly caloric but offer little nutritional value. They are typically high in sugar, unhealthy fats and salt, and low in dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Processing food removes or destroys many naturally-occurring nutrients present in whole foods which cannot be replaced by supplements or added vitamins. Despite health claims that may appear on product packaging, the food industry cannot replicate the health benefits of whole foods.

What to Eat and What Not to Eat

Now you should have an understanding of the typical processes used to produce foods. Given this information, how can you choose foods that will provide nutrition without harming your health? Before you buy or consume food, consider how it is made. Here are some guidelines you can follow to make healthy food choices.

Eat This: Real Food

Ripe radishes freshly harvested from the ground

Real food is whole food: unprocessed fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, nuts, seeds and grains. Whole foods are unprocessed or minimally processed foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals. When you eat whole foods you are eating the entire food with all of its vitamins, minerals and fiber, and the food has not been subjected to potentially damaging processing.

Real food is fresh, nutritious, predominantly local, seasonal, grass-fed, as wild as possible, free of synthetic chemicals, whole or minimally processed, and ecologically diverse.

Eat This: Fresh Food

The closer a food is to its natural state, the more nutrient-dense it is. Foods that are highly nutritious attract living microorganisms that break down the food and can also make us sick. For this reason, whole foods have a short shelf life. They should be consumed within a day of harvest for maximal nutritional content.

Consider the difference between fresh, real bread and shelf-stable processed bread. The primary ingredient used to make bread is wheat, a long grass. Wheat is harvested for its berries, which consist of three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.

The wheat germ is the most nutritious part of the wheat berry, providing a variety of minerals, fiber, essential vitamins, antioxidants and phytosterols. The highly nutritious wheat germ attracts microorganisms which break down the nutrients and cause the wheat to spoil. Bread that is baked with whole, unprocessed grain spoils within a day.

Industrially produced wheat is refined, removing the bran and the wheat germ to produce white flour. White flour is used to produce a bread-like product that will keep longer but is missing nutrients. From a nutritional standpoint, it is better to consume fresh bread baked with whole wheat rather than shelf-stable bread baked with refined wheat.

sliced bread, with whole grains and white flour

Industrially produced foods travel long distances from farm to grocery store. Consumers expect produce to be ripe, attractive and flavorful. If industrial farms harvested fruits and vegetables when ripe, they would spoil before they reached their final destination. To extend the shelf life, produce is either picked unripe and then artificially ripened or it is processed to extend shelf life, often using synthetic chemicals to prevent microbial growth.

attractive rows of brightly colored fruits and vegetables

The most commonly used chemical for artificial ripening is calcium carbide. When exposed to moisture, it produces acetylene gas, which is an analogue to ethylene. This quickens the ripening process. When produce is artificially ripened, it does not develop the same density of nutrients it would have if it were harvested when ripe. Fruits ripen when they absorb moisture, minerals, and other necessary components from the soil. As the fruit grows, its storage cells expand and fill with water, sugars, organic acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Eat This: Locally Grown Produce

It is well-known that fruits and vegetables taste better freshly harvested from a garden than when purchased from a store. Some foods lose nutrients during transportation and storage. Locally grown produce does not travel long distances from farm to table, so it is fresher and retains more nutrients than non-local produce.

If you cannot grow your own garden, the best source for locally produced, fresh foods is farms in your area. When you buy directly from local farms, you not only purchase the best in quality and nutrition for your family. You also support the farmer who is often at a disadvantage competing with the industrial food system. Through choosing to support local farms, you strengthen your community economy and help to keep local producers in business.

Instead of grocery stores, shop from farmer’s markets or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

A smiling woman holding freshly harvested vegetables from the garden

Avoid This: Ultra-Processed Foods

Ultra-processed foods are intrinsically unhealthy due to the nature of the processes and ingredients used in their manufacture. To create foods that can last for days, weeks, or even months on the shelf, and can be transported across states and countries, food corporations have to reduce the nutrient content, while adding preservatives and additives to maintain freshness, flavor and texture. Ultra-processed foods are typically high in added sugar, trans-fat, sodium, and refined starch and low in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Cohort studies provide consistent evidence suggesting that high intake of ultra-processed foods contributes to obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors in children and adults. It is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancers, and total mortality in adults.

close-up of an obese man squeezing his belly fat

A review of food trends published in Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology reported that consumption of ultra-processed food was associated with weight gain. The most weight gain was attributed to ultra-processed foods such as potato chips, sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, refined grains, and processed meats.

Conversely, weight loss or less weight gain was associated with eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Another study published in JAMA Internal Medicine linked eating ultra-processed foods to type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for co-morbidities and weight change, the researchers concluded that a higher intake of ultra-processed foods consistently increased risk for type 2 diabetes. In many cases, type 2 diabetes is related to lifestyle choices that can be modified with a structured wellness and fitness plan.

How to Recognize Ultra-Processed Food

The practical way to identify whether a product is ultra-processed is to check to see if its list of ingredients contains at least one item characteristic of the ultra-processed food group. This includes either food substances never or rarely used in kitchens, or classes of additives whose function is to make the final product palatable or more appealing (‘cosmetic additives’).

Food substances not used in kitchens appear in the beginning or in the middle of the lists of ingredients of ultra-processed foods. Several examples are listed in the table. The presence in the list of ingredients of one or more of these food substances identifies a product as ultra-processed.

Cosmetic additives are at the end of lists of ingredients of ultra-processed foods, together with other additives. The presence in the list of ingredients of one or more additives that belong to these classes of additives also identifies a product as ultra-processed.

Nutrition Fats label on a box of Hamburger Helper

It is important to check ingredient labels because foods that may appear to be healthy can actually be ultra-processed. For example:

Industrial breads made only from wheat flour, water, salt and yeast are processed foods, while those whose lists of ingredients also include emulsifiers or colors are ultra-processed.

Ingredients Characteristic of Ultra-Processed Foods

Hydrolyzed proteinsFlavors
Soya protein isolateFlavor enhancers
Whey proteinEmulsifying salts
Mechanically separated meatSweeteners
High-fructose corn syrupAnti-foaming agents
Fruit juice concentrateBulking agents
Invert sugarCarbonating agents
MaltodextrinFoaming agents
DextroseGelling agents
LactoseGlazing agents
Soluble or insoluble fiber
Hydrogenated or interesterified oil
Other sources of protein, carbohydrate or fat which are neither foods from NOVA Group 1 or Group 3, nor culinary ingredients from NOVA Group 2

Plain steel-cut oats, plain corn flakes and shredded wheat are minimally processed foods, while the same foods are processed when they also contain sugar, and ultra-processed if they also contain flavors or colors.

Avoid This: Industrially Mass-Produced Meat

Leviticus 11 of the Bible, in which God outlines animals that are and are not fit for consumption, specifies:

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.

Leviticus 11:1-3, NKJV

Chewing the cud is a part of the digestive process of ruminant animals.

Ruminants have multi-chambered stomachs. When they eat plant material such as grass or foliage, the ingested plant material is stored in the first chamber, called the rumen, where it softens. They later regurgitate this material, called cud, and chew it again to further break down its cellulose content. The chewed cud goes directly to the other chambers of the stomach where it is further digested.

cows grazing in a pasture

Ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats are designed to graze over stretches of grass. This is further illustrated in Genesis 1:

Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

Genesis 1:30, NKJV

Industrial farming often consists of food monocultures, in which a single species of crop or livestock is produced. This mass production removes the delicate ecological balance which is found in diversity.

Industrial meat operations are cruel to animals. Instead of being allowed to roam and graze on a variety of plants, factory farmed cattle are confined and fed commercial animal feed made primarily of corn and soy. Cattle’s rumens are designed to digest various grasses and plants, not massive amounts of grain. These grain-based diets cause disease and general ill health, such as stomach ulcers. Cattle are known to be herbivores, but they are also fed animal products.

Additionally, unsanitary animal factory conditions create the need for antibiotics to prevent the animals from dying. This has contributed to the global antibiotic resistance crisis.

When you consume factory-raised livestock, you are consuming growth hormones, genetically modified animal feed, antibiotics, vaccines, and anything else the animal has been exposed to. You should avoid animals that have been fed processed seed oils, such as chicken, pork or farm-raised fish. These unnatural additions to animal meat qualify mass-produced meat as ultra-processed food.

brown hens in a field

Instead, choose grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and wild-caught fish. Animals that have been treated humanely and allowed to roam in an ecologically rich environment are more nutritious for us to consume, with a higher omega-3 fatty acid content among other benefits.

Avoid This: Seed Oils

The United States consumes more seed oils per person than any other nation and has the highest obesity rate in the developed world. Industrially processed seed oils were introduced in 1911, when Procter & Gamble used a newly invented hydrogenation process to convert surplus unusable cotton seeds into a synthetic seed oil, sold as Crisco. Seed oils are found in most processed foods, with up to 50% or more of the overall calories contained in most processed foods coming from seed oils. Processed seed oils cause oxidation, inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, memory impairment, impaired immune function and increased mortality.

yellow sunflower

It is important to understand that oils are fats, and that not all fats are harmful to your body. Fats are storage units composed of individual fatty acids, and they are the primary building blocks of membranes in all of our cells.

Saturated fatty acids are characterized by a single bond between carbon atoms and they are solid at room temperature.

Unsaturated fatty acids contain one or more double bonds between carbon atoms. The presence of double bonds creates a bend in the carbon chain, making fat molecules less compact. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.

Due to the double bonds, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are highly perishable and susceptible to oxidative damage. PUFAs are easily damaged by temperature. When in a warm environment such as the human body, they quickly harden into solid masses due to oxidative damage. Animals who live in warmer environments must limit PUFAs and use saturated fats for storage because PUFAs in hot temperatures are incompatible with life.

Linoleic acid (LA) is an omega-6 PUFA found in seed oils. Linoleic acid makes up 60-80% of omega-6 fats. PUFAs such as LA are easily damaged by oxygen in a process called oxidation, which triggers the creation of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, cell membranes, DNA, stem cells, and mitochondria. They are unstable oxygen or nitrogen molecules because they have an uneven or unpaired amount of electrons. When a molecule loses an electron and becomes a free radical, it seeks to rebalance itself and steals an electron from other healthy cells, thus creating more unbalanced molecules. Excess free radicals rapidly accelerate aging and contribute to a wide variety of diseases.

Excess free radicals result from a surplus of omega-6 fat in the form of seed oils. Omega-6 fats are not inherently dangerous, but they should only comprise 1-2% of your diet. Omega-6 is only harmful in excess amounts due to its susceptibility to damage from oxidative stressors in the environment.

When seed oils are damaged by oxidative stress they form harmful by-products that can contribute to inflammation and chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, and aging.

You should keep your intake of LA as low as possible. Research shows that animals typically develop cancer once the LA in their diet reaches 4% to 10% of their energy intake. The half-life of LA is 680 days, or approximately two years. It would take you six years to replace 95% of the LA in your body with healthy fats.

Primary sources of LA include seed oils used in cooking, processed foods and restaurant foods made with seed oils, condiments, seeds and nuts, adulterated olive oils and avocado oils, and animal foods raised on grains such as conventional chicken and pork.

Common Cooking Oils and their Linoleic Acid Content

Safflower Oil70%
Grape Seed Oil70%
Sunflower Oil68%
Corn Oil54%
Cottonseed Oil52%
Soybean Oil51%
Rice Bran Oil33%
Peanut Oil32%
Canola Oil19%
Olive Oil10%
Avocado Oil10%
Palm Oil10%
Tallow (CAFO)3%
Ghee/Butter (CAFO)2%
Coconut Oil2%
Tallow (Grass Fed)1%
Butter (Grass Fed)1%
CAFOconcentrated animal
feeding operation
Source: Mercola

Instead of seed oils and vegetable oils, cook with coconut oil or animal fats such as grass fed butter, grass fed tallow, ghee, or lard. Animal cooking fats provide fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A or retinol and vitamin D.

In addition to high levels of linoleic acid, seed oils contain toxins naturally contained in the seeds of plants. The worst toxins in plants are contained in the seeds because they are critical to the plants’ reproductive processes. Some plants hide seeds within sweet tasting fruit to entice animals to eat and distribute the seeds. Other plants do not make fruit but animals may still attempt to eat the seeds. Plants seeds contain self-generated pesticides which block digestion in any animal predator that eats them. This is a natural defense mechanism to preserve the longevity of the plant species.

The Biblical Significance of Eating Nutritious Food

bird eating frosted berries outside in winter

Real food is food grown the way God intended: Fresh, nutritious, predominantly local, seasonal, grass-fed, as wild as possible, free of synthetic chemicals, whole or minimally processed, and ecologically diverse. Most foods as purchased and consumed are processed to some extent. Foods benefit, and are made more available, when processed by various harmless methods of preservation; and some processes enhance food quality.

However, ultra-processed foods are not ‘real food’. They are formulations of food substances often modified by chemical processes and then assembled into ready-to-consume hyper-palatable food and drink products using cosmetic additives such as flavors, colors, and emulsifiers. Ultra-processing makes food products highly profitable, appealing and intrinsically unhealthy.

Processing food destroys many nutrients and flavor. Real foods are designed the way God intended them to be consumed – in its whole form. The Bible provides several illustrations of God’s intention for mankind to eat whole, fresh, unprocessed food. Instead of modifying foods for our convenience, we should consider why God created them as they are. God is the master Creator, life sustainer, and healer. He knows what we need to thrive and he has provided it to us in its optimal form.

Wheat stalks in front of a dark background

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day.

Genesis 1:11-13, NKJV

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

Genesis 1:29-30, NKJV

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

Genesis 9:1-3, NKJV

We have a responsibility to glorify God with our bodies. This includes feeding our bodies real food, not harmful food-like products. Our bodies are self-healing, but they require the nutrients to maintain themselves.

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV

Every time we buy food, we support the system that produces it. We should strive for perfection in every area of our lives, including the food we buy and eat, just as our heavenly Father is perfect. Our food choices first begin as thoughts, and taking every thought captive unto Christ Jesus includes our thoughts about food.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NKJV

God desires for us to be healthy. Let us return to Him as provider.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

3 John 2-4, NKJV

Medical Disclaimer

The statements in this article are my opinion, based upon a review of recent research in nutrition and health trends. I am not a nutritionist or medical practitioner. If you have a health concern or existing medical condition, I advise you to consult a physician or nutritionist before making significant lifestyle or nutritional changes.


Agostino, Julia. “Database Indicates U.S. Food Supply is 73 Percent Ultra-Processed.” Food Tank. November 2022.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “ruminant”. Encyclopedia Britannica, Invalid Date, Accessed 19 August 2023.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Adult Obesity Facts.” May 17, 2022. (accessed August 2023).

IDEA Authors. “3 Ways to Incorporate Whole Foods Into Your Diet.” December 13, 2015.

Kadey, Matthew, MS, RD. “Ultraprocessed Foods Hurt Nutrition in Kids.” IDEA Fitness Journal Sprint. Dec 6, 2021.

Leaf, Caroline, Dr. Think and Eat Yourself Smart. Baker Books (October 3, 2017).

Lunawat, Dev. “Why Do Fruits Ripen?” July 8, 2022. (Accessed August 2023).

Mercola, Joseph, Dr. “Linoleic Acid: A Toxin Lurking in your Food.” May 5, 2023.

Mercola, Joseph, Dr. “Linoleic Acid — The Most Destructive Ingredient in Your Diet.” May 7, 2023.

Monteiro CA, Cannon G, Levy RB, Moubarac JC, Louzada ML, Rauber F, Khandpur N, Cediel G, Neri D, Martinez-Steele E, Baraldi LG, Jaime PC. Ultra-processed foods: what they are and how to identify them. Public Health Nutr. 2019 Apr;22(5):936-941. doi: 10.1017/S1368980018003762. Epub 2019 Feb 12. PMID: 30744710; PMCID: PMC10260459.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Overweight & Obesity Statistics.” September 2021. (Accessed August 2023).

Open Food Facts. “Nova groups for food processing.” (accessed August 2023).

Ryan, Patricia, MS. “More Evidence That Ultraprocessed Foods Lead to Obesity and Diabetes.” IDEA Fitness Journal Sprint. March 30, 2020.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wang L, Martínez Steele E, Du M, et al. Trends in Consumption of Ultraprocessed Foods Among US Youths Aged 2-19 Years, 1999-2018. JAMA. 2021;326(6):519–530. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.10238

Mikstas, Christine, RD, LD. “Health Benefits of Wheat Germ.” WedMD. March 16, 2023. (accessed August 2023).

World Health Organization. “Natural toxins in food.” March 10, 2023.

Posted on Leave a comment

Welcome to Fitness for Worship

Picture of Michelle Barnes next to "Fitness for Worship" "Be Inspired. Get Fit. Worship!"


Fitness for Worship was established to inspire people to live healthy and affliction free through fitness and a firm foundation in truth.
I believe that every person has a God-ordained right to be healthy, pain-free and fully satisfied.

Be Inspired. Get Fit. Worship!

Be Inspired

My mission is to inspire believers to live their lives according to God’s vision for them.

God has promised us health, prosperity, salvation and satisfaction with the life he has given to us (3 John 2, Psalm 68:19-20, Psalm 91:14-16).

However, instead of receiving God’s promises, many people are sick, in pain and disappointed with their lives.

The Bible says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6). You cannot believe in a truth that you have not heard.

Fitness for Worship seeks to present God’s vision, the Truth, and to inspire you to claim it for yourself.

Fitness for Worship is not for “Christians.”

John 3:16-17 states:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

The Bible does not promise perks to “Christians.” The promises of God are available to anyone who hears them, believes them, and claims them for themselves. Faith, believing and trusting God, is a minimum requirement to receive God’s promises. There is a distinct difference between “Christian” and “believer,” and I believe that believers are the ones who grab ahold of God’s truths.

Get Fit.

Our health is our most important asset.

Fitness for Worship believes that the first step to living in health is to believe that you can achieve and maintain it. Your physical health is influenced by your lifestyle choices such as nutrition and physical activity, as well as genetics, mindset and other factors.

As a fitness trainer, I believe that most people can benefit from:

  • Building and maintaining the endurance to participate in activities you enjoy
  • Building strength and cardiovascular fitness
  • Correcting muscle imbalances and movement restrictions that can hinder mobility
  • Preventing injuries or repeated injuries (through proper movement)

Fitness centers tend to focus on the body but they neglect the spirit.

Churches tend to focus on the spirit but they can neglect the body.

Fitness for Worship offers a blend of physical fitness, mental health and faith services to serve the whole person.


I seek to inspire believers to worship.

Worship is a lifestyle that comes through a relationship with God. Just like any other relationship in our lives, we will get to know God better the more time we spend with him. As we read the word, pray, and meditate on scripture, we will develop our faith in who God is and who we are. Your spiritual health is dependent upon your relationship with God.

In John 4:23-24, Jesus said:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Why do we worship God?

What does it mean to worship?

Here are three principles to live by:

1. Know the Truth

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31-32

2. Be Healthy

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

3 john 2-4

3. Be Satisfied

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

Psalm 91:14-16

About Michelle

Michelle Barnes is the founder of Fitness for Worship.

I am a creative writer and fitness coach with a passion for health and development of the whole person: spirit, soul and body.

I am certified as a Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and I am a graduate of the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI).

I am a member of Agape Embassy Ministries in Virginia, USA. I completed the Christian Foundation Institute in 2018, which examines Biblical foundation principles in accordance with Hebrews 6:1-3.

I am a worshipper.

My purpose is to inspire you to live according to God’s vision.

You have a God-ordained right to be healthy, pain-free and fully satisfied. Seize your wellbeing through fitness and bold confidence in the Truth.

My favorite scripture is 3 John 2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that you be prosperous, and in health, as your soul prospers.”

Scripture References

3 John 2-4 (NKJV): 2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Psalm 68:19-20 (NKJV): 19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits,The God of our salvation! Selah 20 Our God is the God of salvation; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NKJV): 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV): My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

John 3:16-17 (NKJV): 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 4:23-24 (NKJV): 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NKJV): Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.