The Dangers of Processed Foods: An Interview with Optivida Health Founder Frank Davis
Updated: Oct 16
By Nate Sleger
"After my health issues, I became almost obsessed with learning everything I could about what really makes up a healthy diet and lifestyle," said Frank Davis, founder and CEO of Optivida Health, in a recent interview. Davis's own health journey led him to found a company aimed at providing whole food nutrients to help people optimize their health.
Davis described how he grew up eating a typical American diet of processed foods. "Like most Americans, I grew up in the 60s and 70s eating Wonder Bread, Kool-Aid, TV dinners, you name it." This diet eventually caught up with him, leading to chronic health issues including fatigue, poor concentration, and even depression. "I just didn't feel well at all, and I knew something had to change."
After doing extensive research, Davis discovered that the problem with the modern American diet is the lack of real, whole foods. "We're simply not getting the nutrients we need from our food anymore. The processing removes a lot of the natural vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds." He soon realized that this lack of nutrients could be at the root of many health problems.
The Dangerous State of the Standard American Diet
The so-called "Standard American Diet" or SAD diet that Davis followed in his youth has become even more problematic over the past several decades. "The explosion of processed foods since the 1950s and 60s has really changed our food environment in this country," Davis explained.
Some of the biggest dangers of this dietary shift include:
Ultra-processed ingredients: Packaged foods today are filled with industrial seed oils, refined grains, added sugars, chemical preservatives, and other artificial ingredients that provide little or no nutritional value.
Nutrient deficiencies: Common nutrient shortfalls in the typical American diet include magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin C, and fiber. This can negatively impact energy, immunity, digestion, heart health, and more.
Food addiction: The addictive combinations of sugar, fat, and salt in junk foods lights up the same pleasure centers in the brain as drugs. This makes processed foods hard to resist.
Obesity and chronic disease: Poor diet is a primary contributor to the rise of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses plaguing modern society.
Harmful additives: Chemical additives like artificial colors, emulsifiers, and thickeners found in processed foods are increasingly being linked to negative effects on health and behavior.
Environmental damage: Industrial agriculture methods used to produce cheap processed food ingredients also generate pollution and greenhouse gases while depleting soils.
The Missing Link of Whole Food Nutrients
After identifying the pitfalls of the modern diet, Davis discovered that returning to unprocessed, whole foods could provide a solution. "I realized that the answer wasn't complicating things further with more synthetics or isolates. The nutrients we need are already present in real foods, we just have to put them back into our diet."
He explained that whole foods contain a complex blend of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, and other compounds that work synergistically to support optimal health. For example:
Fruits and vegetables supply an array of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Nuts and seeds provide healthy fats, fiber, and plant-based protein.
Herbs add an abundance of protective polyphenols.
Sprouted grains are packed with B vitamins and fiber.
Pasture-raised animal products offer bioavailable protein along with vitamins and minerals.
According to Davis, incorporating more of these real, minimally processed foods can help fill nutrient gaps and counteract many modern health conditions. "Whole foods are the supplements nature intended us to eat. No vitamin pill or powder can match what you get from real, fresh food."
However, he acknowledged that consistently eating enough produce, nuts, seeds, and other whole foods can be challenging for many people. Stress, poor planning, food access limitations, and confusing nutrition misinformation are some of the barriers.
That's why at Optivida Health, Davis and his team have worked to formulate products using concentrated whole food ingredients. "We realized we could provide convenient, nutrient-dense supplements using real food sources like sprouts, mushrooms, berries, greens, seeds, and more."
Rather than isolated compounds, these supplements feature over 200 different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and other beneficial phytonutrients from whole foods. This diverse profile aims to support overall wellness in ways isolated vitamins and minerals alone cannot.
Key Takeaways: Reclaiming Whole Food Nutrition
The dangerous state of the standard American diet makes achieving optimal wellness a challenge. But by focusing on increasing intake of untainted whole foods, it's possible to reclaim the nutrition our bodies need. Here are some of Frank Davis's key suggestions:
Limit consumption of heavily processed ingredients like refined grains and sugars, industrial seed oils, and chemical additives. Read labels carefully.
Fill your plate with a rainbow of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs and spices. Eat the produce first at meals.
Choose minimally processed whole food options like sprouted breads, plain yogurt, and nut butters over refined products when possible.
Consider taking a whole food based supplement to help "insure" your nutrient needs are met consistently.
When you eat animal products, select pasture-raised, grass-fed, or wild-caught sources for maximum nutrition.
Focus on how you feel, not just how you look. Make nutrition choices based on optimizing energy, mental clarity, and overall wellbeing.
Transitioning to a diet centered on real, wholesome foods can help counteract many of the problems created by processed foods. As Davis put it, "Making whole foods the basis of your lifestyle is one of the most powerful things you can do for lifelong health and wellbeing." Putting this wisdom into practice can help you feel your best while avoiding the dangers of nutrient deficiencies.