Over the years, many so-called “experts” have pooh-poohed the idea of eating organic food. They maintain that the nutrients in all foods are basically the same and that the small residues of pesticides and other additives in conventional food are pretty much harmless.
But research is growing to show that, in fact, organic food conveys important benefits that conventional items can’t give you. Here’s the story…
When researchers in Australia conducted a review study that systematically compared the health of people consuming organic food versus conventionally grown items, the evidence they found demonstrated that eating organic food “reduced the incidence of infertility, birth defects, allergic sensitization, otitis media, pre-eclampsia, metabolic syndrome, high BMI, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”1
While they note that the studies they analyzed do not produce “definitive” proof of organic’s advantages, they say there are a “growing number of important findings” that are all pointing in that direction.
Organic Food is Healthier
The Australian scientists say that while the “macro” nutrients (protein, fat, and fiber) contained in organic and conventional foods are equivalent, when it comes to other nutrients organic foods possess a big advantage. For example, organic foods contain more antioxidants, higher levels of omega-3 fats in organic dairy products and better fatty acid profiles in organic meats.
Studies show that people who eat organic foods have higher levels of an impressive list of nutrients important for health. That includes magnesium, fat-soluble micronutrients (like α-carotene, β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin), and a range of important fatty acids (linoleic, palmitoleic, γ-linolenic, and docosapentaenoic acids).2
The researchers also explain that one of the most important differences between organic food and conventional food is what it doesn’t contain: “Organic foods have been shown to have lower levels of toxic metabolites, including heavy metals such as cadmium, and synthetic fertilizer and pesticide residues.3,4 Consumption of organic foods may also reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
Coating Apples With Fungicides
Tests now show that chemicals added to conventional foods can lead to serious health consequences.
For example, recently, a research team in Canada reported that the fungicides used on conventional apples to keep them from spoiling when they are shipped to supermarkets may promote the growth of pathogenic yeasts that are resistant to multiple drugs.5 This study shows that the fungicides promote the growth of resistant Candida auris, a dangerous yeast that often spreads among patients in hospitals and other health-care settings.
The researchers warn that this yeast has become a worldwide menace. Finding the yeast on these treated apples worries the scientists because so little is known about this pathogen. “We still don’t really understand the forces that drive the simultaneous emergence of multiple distinct genetic clusters of C. auris,” warns researcher Jianping Xu, PhD.
Another analysis that might give you pause about eating conventional food is a case study of a child who suffered a dramatic anaphylactic allergic reaction to consuming blueberries.
In this case, a ten-year-old had trouble breathing after eating blueberry pie. The researchers who investigated what happened concluded that her serious response to the blueberries resulted from her allergy to streptomycin. It turns out that conventional blueberries are frequently treated with streptomycin to keep them fresh.6
After completing their investigation, the Canadian researchers warned that “antibiotic residue in foods is an underrecognized risk.”
From my perspective, organic food is always your best choice when you have that option. Even though it usually costs more, I think it’s worth it even if it’s just to avoid the toxins that often contaminate conventional food. And I’m not alone.
Over the years I’ve spoken to and heard from dozens of natural and alternative doctors who stress the importance of eating organic, whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible. In many cases these doctors “prescribe” these foods as part of a treatment regimen for everything from digestive problems and migraines to joint pain and cancer. I’ve no doubt that research will continue to show that, when it comes to better health, eating organic food trumps conventional food every time.
For a list of the foods that may contain the highest levels of pesticides and other toxins, take a look at this guide to the most problematic conventional foods: