Organic – is it really better for you?
There is quite a lot of controversy around organic food and if it is scientifically better for you or not. I would like to state at this point, that my belief is that eating organically is better for you. I don’t see how food that has less exposure to chemical pesticides and antibiotics can’t be better for you. And to begin with, everyone was told smoking was good for you and wouldn’t do any harm… It’s only recently become a focus of research, so at the moment more studies are needed to help give a clearer answer. Currently, there are papers saying that it is better for you and others saying there is no difference. The main challenge in researching this topic and the impact of non-organic farming on human health is that it’s unethical to do research in humans.
Something else that hinders research, and is acknowledged in the research papers, is that often a specific component of the organic food is analysed on a specific health problem. For example, extracts from strawberries and beetroot on one breast cancer and one colon cancer cell line. What we eat and the impact that it has on cancer cells is far more complex than this as this isn’t how the body metabolises food or uses the antioxidants/polyphenols in the plants in our body. Another research paper reported that when urine was tested of those who eat a more organic diet, they had a much lower level of pesticides in their urine compared to those who didn’t. Pesticides can cause cancer, and upset how our hormones work which can lead to all sorts of health problems. From this, you can deduce that keeping your pesticide exposure to a minimum is a good thing to do!
Research has shown that eating organic food in pregnancy has a positive impact on the developing baby, and their mental development and intellect is much higher. Also, eczema rates in children are lower if the mother ate organic dairy during pregnancy and gave the baby organic dairy one it started to eat solids.
There is also the welfare argument. Organically reared plants and animals are treated so much better and there is a positive impact on the environment because of this. Organic livestock isn’t given antibiotics routinely to help prevent disease, only when it’s needed to enable the animal to get better if they pick up an infection. Organic animals are also allowed to eat what they naturally eat, to roam around outside and don’t spend their entire lives cooped up inside being fed god knows what to speed up their growth/weight gain. Crops are also fertilized in a natural way which helps the soil, and organic farmers often use crop rotation to keep the earth nourished. They also use natural pesticides which helps all the wildlife and so importantly the bees!
I know that for many, organic food is too expensive, or that other bills/purchases come first. And that’s absolutely fine. If you want to help your body and the health of your family, try and avoid the most sprayed crops and switch those for organic. Google the ‘clean 15’ and the ‘dirty dozen’ to find the most/least sprayed fruits and vegetables.
Chronic health problems – obesity, type two diabetes, cancer etc are on the rise. I’m not saying that by eating organic food you will avoid a diagnosis of something. Research is beginning to show that in terms of lifestyle choices and reducing the consumption of pesticides, antibiotics, and all the chemicals that go into processed foods, eating an organic diet is better for you.