Leisure / February 28, 2017

The Importance of Organic Food and Disease Prevention

It can be an overwhelming exercise to choose between all of the nutritional information available today. However, one fact that cannot be disputed is the importance of eating a diet rich in nutrient-dense, whole and real foods.

The highly processed diet that modern society is used to is void of any real nutrition. Unfortunately, when people attempt to switch to a more plant-based and clean diet, there are further concerns of how “real” or “whole” food actually is.

The Importance of Organic Food and Disease Prevention

Although there is considerable debate as to the benefits of organic versus conventional farming, from a nutritional perspective, there is science to show that organic farming does improve the nutrient density of plants, meat, poultry, and dairy products. One study found that organic tomatoes were 50 percent higher in vitamin C content than conventional tomatoes and had 139 percent higher total phenolic content. This means that the tomatoes, in general, had a stronger antioxidant capacity.

Another study found that organic milk contained 62 percent more omega 3 fatty acids and 25 percent less omega 6 fatty acids than conventional milk. This means that organic milk has a much better omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio, decreasing the risk of inflammation when consumed by humans.

Pesticides and Health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), new cancer cases will rise by 70 percent in the next two decades. A 2015 epidemiological study found that rheumatic, endocrinological, and intestinal autoimmune diseases drastically increased over the past thirty years. The authors concluded that there is a stronger influence of environmental factors in comparison to genetic factors in autoimmune disease development.

One such environmental factor is diet and the ways in which food is grown and cultivated. Pesticides used in conventional farming are known endocrine disruptors. Long-term exposure to pesticides in low-doses have contributed to the development of diseases like cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and respiratory effects.

Christina Economidou Pieridou, author of the book Anticancer, The Preventive Power of Food and a trained clinical dietitian with twenty years of experience as a nutrition counselor, states “there is a possible connection between pesticides and cancers such as non-Hodgin lymphoma and prostate, testicular, prostate, and lung cancers”. She also recommends “to minimize one’s exposure to pesticide residues found in our food until more clear conclusions are drawn about the link between pesticides and cancer development.”

How to Limit Pesticide Exposure

One of the things that define organic farming is the avoidance of the use of chemicals such as pesticides on food. Therefore, the number one way to minimize one’s exposure to pesticides is to buy organic produce.

When asked what she would recommend in terms of where to choose the highest quality food, Christina happily replied, “I have a great relationship with the owner of the organic farm I get a lot of my produce from. I trust her completely because she is very willing to share her secrets on how to avoid chemicals and organic farming. I recommend that everyone find a local farmers’ market or farm. There, a relationship can be formed in which the consumer will make the farmer accountable to what he or she produces. This, in turn, ensures that the consumer will get a high-quality product.”

Prevention Is Key

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of therapy.” With the scary increases in disease witnessed today, it has never been more important to apply this advice. Research shows that environmental factors are more likely to contribute to disease development. Since this is so, it becomes imperative to, not only choose a diet that is nutrient-dense, but to avoid one’s exposure to pesticides and chemicals found in food. Choosing food that is organically grown is a great way to do this as it offers superior nutritional value with less toxic chemicals. Also, eating organically-grown food can be a major contributor to disease prevention.

(Read more about Baobab Fruits: An Up-and-Coming Superfood)