CAT | Toxins and Health
Choosing organically grown foods is not just a trend. More and more studies are finding that organic food is better for our health than foods grown using conventional farming methods (which typically include the heavy use of chemical-laden pesticides, herbicides and insecticides). If you haven’t yet made the switch, here are three good reasons to go organic.
- Boost Your Antioxidant Intake by up to 40%
Researchers from Newcastle University in the UK recently looked at more than 340 peer-reviewed studies on organic food and published their findings in the July issue of the British Journal of Nutrition. They determined that organic crops and crop-based foods were significantly higher (up to 69%) in key antioxidants such as phenolic acids, anthocyanins, flavanones and flavonols, and that choosing organic over conventionally grown foods could mean a 20–40% increase in antioxidant intake levels.i
- Drastically Reduce Pesticide Levels
The same analysis out of Newcastle University determined that conventional crops were significantly lower in residual pesticide levels and had lower levels of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal known to pose severe risks to human health.ii Cadmium levels were on average about 48% lower in organic crops, according to the study abstract. In line with these findings, a study conducted earlier this year at RMIT University in Australia found that going organic for just one week could reduce pesticide levels in the body by nearly 90%!
- Avoid Probiotic-killing Glyphosate
You may recall from a recent blog how researchers discovered that a chemical called glyphosate—widely used as an herbicide on conventionally grown crops—was shown to destroy the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the human gut that help protect us from illness and disease. Already linked to a broad range of disorders from birth defects to cell damage, scientists now believe glyphosate can cause a gut imbalance that can ultimately interfere with our healthy immune response—as well as impact healthy mood and behavior.
Worried about the expense of organic foods? There are ways around that—such as choosing in-season produce as well as locally farmed fruits and vegetables. This often cuts out travel and distribution costs and results in lower-priced organic selections.
Between the picnics and the pool parties, there’s a good chance your summer weekend plans will include a little lawn care—but before you reach for the weed killer there’s something you should know: scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently discovered that a chemical called glyphosate (found in some popular weed-killing products) could be wreaking havoc on your gut bacteria.
A team of researchers looked at more than 300 studies surrounding the use of glyphosate and determined that exposure to the commonly used chemical has been linked to a broad range of disorders from birth defects to cell damage. And most recently, glyphosate was found to destroy the beneficial bacteria in the human gut that help protect us from illness and disease.
While harmful bacteria like C. difficile are able to withstand glyphosate, good bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli are not. The resulting imbalance can threaten a healthy gut lining and lead to a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome, in which toxins and harmful microbes are allowed to enter the bloodstream. This, in turn, can negatively impact a healthy immune response. In addition, glyphosate disrupts serotonin production in the gut. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter linked to healthy mood and behavior.
Until now, glyphosate has been relatively low on the EPA’s radar because it is not considered toxic when used at recommended doses. The problem? With a rise in GMO crops across the country, large-scale herbicide use has increased dramatically, which means glyphosate finds its way into the plants and animals we eat. “When you disturb something in nature, there aren’t any voids,” said retired pathologist and Purdue University Professor Emeritus Don Huber, PhD in a recent article. “You take the good guys out and the bad guys rule. And that’s what’s happening.”
To reduce exposure to glyphosate, experts recommend opting for organically grown foods (because organic farming bans the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers) as well as eating more whole foods and fewer processed foods, since the majority of glyphosate-treated crops—including corn and canola—are those most often found in processed foods.