There is growing concern today over the health and nutrition of Americans. Due to effects of pesticides, food additives and decreased nutrients in our food supply we are seeing more and more incidents of toxicity and preventable diseases. What can be done? Is organic food a realistic and worthwhile alternative?
In the references below we have provided “food for thought,” but you should conduct your own research or speak to your Rejuvenation professional more about your health concerns.
A recent article in the Journal of Applied Nutrition gave credence to the notion that organic foods have higher nutrient levels than non-organic food. In this study the mineral content of organic apples, pears, potatoes, wheat, and sweet corn were compared to commercial varieties. Overall the organic foods showed much higher levels of nutrient minerals and much lower levels of heavy metals.
Here are a few of the nutrients that were found in higher levels in the organic foods:
- Chromium is a micronutrient that is low in Western diets. Its deficiency is associated with the onset of adult diabetes and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Chromium was found to be higher in organic foods by an average of 78%.
- Selenium is one of the antioxidant nutrients that protect us from damage by environmental chemicals. It is protective against cancers and heart disease. It was found to be an average of 390% higher in organic foods.
- Calcium, needed for strong bones, averaged 63% higher in organics.
- Boron, which has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis (along with calcium), averaged 70% more.
- Lithium, which is used to treat certain types of depression, was 188% higher.
- Magnesium, which reduces mortality from heart attacks, keeps muscles from spasming, and eases the symptoms of PMS, averaged 138% more.
When they studied organic food for mineral levels, the researchers also looked for the amount of the heavy metals aluminum, cadmium, lead and mercury. Aluminum has been implicated for years in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Its content in organic food averaged 40% less than in commercial foods. Lead toxicity, which has been in the news a lot lately, can adversely affect our children’s’ IQ. It averaged 29% lower in organic foods. Mercury, which can cause neurologic damage, averaged 25% lower in organic foods.
Besides the lower levels of heavy metals, there are the chemical residues themselves. The big question is whether or not the accumulation of pesticide residues in non-organic foods is a real health concern or not. Studies have never been able to conclusively show a direct correlation between residues in food and a decline of human health, but there are numerous problems in doing any such study. The first is that you would need a population of people who are free of chemical residues to compare to, and no one has been able to find such a group. According to an ongoing EPA study of fat samples taken from surgeries and autopsies across the country, we are all loaded with chemical residues. Similar studies done on other countries all show the same results.
Other studies have looked at vitamin levels of food plants treated with certain pesticides. They showed that application of some pesticides would significantly lower the vitamin levels in the plants they were applied to. This is different than the notion that plants raised with chemicals are low in nutrients because the soil is depleted. This shows that chemicals actually reduce the amount of nutrients in plants after application. The nutrients most often affected are vitamin C, beta carotene, and the B vitamins. These are vitally necessary for the body to withstand the onslaught of chemical toxins. Vitamin C has been well documented by two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling to prevent and treat cancers. Beta carotene has been shown to be a stimulant of the immune system, and is sometimes able to prevent lung cancer.
The clearest studies that we have about pesticide residues and disease are those looking at breast cancer. In the last few years there have been a series of studies, each building upon the other, looking at the level of DDT, DDE, and PCB in women. They have very clearly shown that chemical residues in the serum and fat cells of women greatly increase the risk of breast cancer. Since breast cancer is a major killer of women in this country it is reasonable to say that avoidance of pesticide residues in food (the only known route of exposure to DDT in this country, since we no longer use it to spray for mosquitoes) could save numerous lives and reduce our health care cost dramatically.”1
In a report by CBS on March 16, 2010, titled, “Shocking” Reasons to go Organic, it stated the following:
“Health Benefits of Organic Foods:2
- More Nutrients: Studies show that organic foods may have increased levels of nutrients like antioxidants than conventionally grown foods
- Fertility Health: Pesticides found in conventionally grown foods have been shown to reduce fertility
- Immune System Protection: The chemicals in non-organic foods may also harm your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness and some forms of cancer
- Hormones and weight gain: New research has shown that some agricultural chemicals could actually be making you fat by interfering with your hormone levels.
- Unknown effects of GMOs: Many people are concerned about genetically modified foods, especially since many of them have never been tested on humans. Organic foods are never genetically modified.
“There are numerous benefits to both eating organic foods, and to organic gardening. I personally believe that a huge benefit comes from a renewed relationship with nature. It starts with an “I won’t poison you, you won’t poison me” attitude, and ends with “I’ll nurture and respect you, you nurture and respect me.” Doing your own organic gardening makes this a personal commitment. Gardening is just plain good for the soul. One of my patients told me that they refer to their time spent in the garden a “going to see my therapist.” There is nothing quite like getting your hands in the soil for really good “grounding”.
In addition to the mental and emotional benefits of growing and eating organic food, there are also the physical benefits. These physical benefits can be boiled down to nutrients present in organic foods that are not in commercial foods and toxins not in organic foods that are present in commercial foods.
The Best Organic Basics:
When it comes to eating organic, the easiest and most effective way to start is with the basics. Men’s Health narrowed down four areas where it really pays to go organic:
- Organic beef comes from livestock that eats an organic diet, and in June, new FDA regulations will mandate that they spend at least 30 percent of their lives grazing on pasture grasses. That’s important, because studies show grass-fed meat has 60% more omega-3s, 200% more vitamin E, and 2 to 3 times as much of a cancer-fighting fat called CLA that might even help you lose weight.
- Likewise, organic chicken is healthier than non-organic chicken. One study found that it has 28 percent more omega-3 fatty acids.
- Studies show that organic milk has 50% more vitamin E, 75% more beta-carotene, and 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than regular. It also has more than double the amount of certain antioxidants that have been shown to keep your eyes healthy as you age.
- Organic milk is also free of commonly used growth hormones, which increases infertility in cows and has been linked to prostate and breast cancers in humans.
- It costs about a dollar more per half-gallon, but it’s worth it. Plus you can generally cut costs by getting coupons online. Stonyfieldfarm.com, for instance, offers printable coupons on their site.
- Organic chickens, like cows, spend a portion of their life grazing. That means that, along with their organic feed, they have access to the chicken’s food of choice, which is a cocktail of worms and grubs. And when animals eat their favorite foods, humans benefit. According to a study from Penn State, eggs from grazing chickens have twice as much vitamin E, 40 percent more vitamin A, and 3 times as many omega-3s. Plus they taste better!
Compared to mass-produced conventional eggs, organic usually costs a couple extra bucks per carton. But again, that’s a small price for the health of your body and planet.
Fruits and Vegetables
- According to estimates by the Environmental Working Group — the agency that developed the “Dirty Dozen” list — you can reduce your pesticide exposure by 80 percent simply by choosing organic versions of these 12 fruits and vegetables: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots and pears.
- As a general rule towards fruits and vegetables, when it comes to edible skins you’d be wise to choose organic.
- These 15 fruits and vegetables were the lowest in pesticides, so it’s not as important to buy organic versions of them: onions, avocadoes, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwis, cabbage, eggplants, papayas, watermelon, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
- Most of these fruits and vegetables are protected from pesticide contamination by thick skins.”
Choose your foods wisely…for your health and for our planet!