By Dr. Susan Blum
One thing I’ve noticed when talking to patients is that, despite the prevalence of the word “organic,” many people don’t actually know what it means or are confused. Organic produce is grown without conventional pesticides/herbicides, harsh chemicals or bioengineering while organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy come from animals that have been allowed to graze on pastures, are fed 100% organic feed and are not given growth hormones or antibiotics. As a result, going organic helps you avoid toxins, hormones and antibiotics which can negatively impact and disrupt the body in several ways.
For example, glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup, is an herbicide that has been found to damage the lining of the gut and its balance of good bacteria. In turn, it can cause leaky gut, a condition associated with autoimmunity and allergies. The only way to avoid it is to eat organic food, especially soy and corn, which are mostly genetically modified in the U.S. and have the highest levels of glyphosate. The animals that consume these foods have high levels of pesticides and herbicides in their meat and milk, which is then transferred to us when we eat them.
In addition to causing gut damage, pesticides and herbicides can accumulate in our body where they affect multiple organs and cause symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and immune issues. They can also build up in fat cells increasing the risk of obesity and accumulate in the brain, which is mostly made of fat. Another issue? The more toxins that you have in your body, the harder it is for your main detoxifying organ, the liver, to remove them. Eventually, it fatigues, allowing ever increasing amounts of all types of toxins to build up and make you sick. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to reduce your intake of toxins. Even if you can’t eat organic 100% of the time, the following will help:
Prioritize your produce. Some fruits and veggies contain more toxins than others and you can figure this out by going to the Environmental Working Group website (www.ewg.org)where they list the “dirty dozen.” These are the most toxin-filled foods and those that you should definitely buy organic and the clean 15, which you don’t.
Fill your pantry with organic items when possible. Although produce is more of a priority, packaged organic foods are a good idea if you can afford them. Typically, they are free of GMO’s and organic processed foods don’t use harmful high fructose corn syrup, food dyes or preservatives.
Shop the local farmer’s market. These farmers are often organic without paying for the certification. Ask questions, and often you can buy produce that is wonderful at good prices.
Enjoy delicious menu items from Organic Pharmer, where we use only organic produce in order to create the cleanest, nutrient-rich foods to help your body function at its best.