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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Naturopathic News arrow Issue #10 - July 2003
Issue #10 - July 2003

Welcome to Naturopathic News issue #10, July 28, 2003. It’s my goal to help you find natural solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. Any feedback in the form of comments, letters to the editor, success stories, etc., is appreciated.

Recently, several people have asked to be added to my list to receive this newsletter. If you think any of your friends or family would be interested in this material, just send me their email address. For all those who have told me how much they appreciate this newsletter, thank you for the kind words. I enjoy disseminating accurate health information that you can trust.

This is a special issue focused on the topic of organic food. I hope you enjoy it.
 

WHY ORGANIC?

The decision to purchase organic food over conventionally grown food is a personal one, driven by health, environmental, and other concerns. Organic food is growing in popularity. Global sales have increased over 10 percent to reach $23 billion in 2002. The U.S. market is also expanding as consumers increase their demand for healthy and natural products. U.S. organic food sales have increased from $3.5 billion in 1996 to more than $9 billion in 2001.

Organic farming differs from conventional farming in the methods used to grow crops. Where traditional farmers apply chemical fertilizers to the soil to grow their crops, organic farmers feed and build soil with natural fertilizer. Traditional farmers use insecticides to get rid of insects and disease, while organic farmers use natural methods such as insect predators and barriers for this purpose. Traditional farmers control weed growth by applying synthetic herbicides, but organic farmers use crop rotation, tillage, hand weeding, cover crops and mulches to control weeds.

The result is that conventionally grown food is tainted with chemical residues that can be harmful to humans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.

Pesticides can have many negative influences on health, including neurotoxicity, disruption of the hormonal system, carcinogenicity and suppression of the immune system. Pesticide exposure has been shown to affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages.

Aside from pesticide contamination, conventional produce tends to have fewer nutrients than organic produce. On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce. Studies have found significantly higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and significantly less nitrates (a toxin) in organic crops. Overall though, it’s better to eat some commercial fruits and vegetables than no fruits and vegetables at all.

The following foods tend to have the highest levels of pesticides (from Environmental Working Group’s FoodNews.org):

Fruit

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Strawberries
  4. Nectarines
  5. Pears
  6. Cherries
  7. Red Raspberries
  8. Imported Grapes


Vegetables

  1. Spinach
  2. Bell Peppers
  3. Celery
  4. Potatoes
  5. Hot Peppers

 

ORGANIC FOOD: NUTRIENTS AND DISEASE

Conventional agriculture, which depends on heavy applications of chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and irrigation, may inhibit plants’ natural production of cancer-fighting flavonoids, while organic agriculture, which does not use synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers, may actually promote the production of flavonoids.

Flavonoids are plant by-products believed to protect the plant from insects, bacterial and fungal infection and photo-oxidation. These plant chemicals are also thought to be useful in preventing cancer and heart disease and combating age-related neurological dysfunctions.

Flavonoids work by protecting the cell against damage caused by active oxygen radicals. Oxygen radicals can cause cancer and are also associated with cardiovascular disease and age-related nerve cell damage.

In studies comparing conventional farming with organic and sustainable (environmentally sound) farming of berries and corn, organic and sustainable produce was significantly higher in flavonoids than conventional produce.

Although previous studies did not evaluate flavonoids, results indicated that conventionally produced foods had higher levels of nitrates and synthetic pesticides and fewer total solids than organic foods.

The natural compounds showed various functions in the cell, including the potential to kill cancer cells or prevent them from spreading. Using plant chemicals in the treatment of cancer could enhance cure rates if combined with standard treatment methods, according to researchers.

Other studies have shown that flavonoids have protective effects against cardiovascular disease and cancer, although separate studies have found that the compounds have no effect, and a few have suggested they could have harmful effects.

Plant chemicals may also be useful in combating age-related neurological dysfunctions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, which are associated with long-term oxidative stress.

There is substantial evidence to suggest that flavonoids, which are more plentiful in organic than conventional foods, are effective in the fight against cancer, heart disease and age-related neurological dysfunction. Additionally, increasing evidence indicates that organic farming gives high yields and is more beneficial to the environment than conventional farming.

According to researchers, supporters of genetically modified foods often deny or ignore this large body of evidence.

Journal Agricultural Food Chemistry February 26, 2003;51(5):1237-41

 

SCIENTISTS PROVE SUPERIOR NUTRITIVE VALUE OF ORGANIC FOOD

Researchers at Rutgers University set out to disprove the claim that "Organic Is Better".  They purchased selections of produce at supermarkets and healthfood stores and analyzed for mineral content.


Rutgers researchers expected the organic produce to be maybe slightly higher in comparison, but the results were greater than expected. The amount of iron in the organic spinach was 97% more than the commercial spinach, and the manganese was 99% greater in the organic. Many essential trace elements were completely absent in the commercial produce whereas they were abundant, comparatively, in their organically grown counterparts.


MAJOR MINERALS Milliequivalents per 100 Grams Dry Weight:

TRACE ELEMENTS, Parts per Million Dry Matter

  PHOSPHOROUS MAGNESIUM  SODIUM MANGANESE
COPPER  ASH
CALCIUM  POTASSIUM
BORON
IRON
COBALT
SNAP BEANS
                     
Organic 10.45
0.36
 40.5 60
99.7
8.6
73
60
227
69
0.26
Commercial
4.04
0.22
 15.5 14.8
29.1
0.9
10
2
10  3
                       
CABBAGE
                     
Organic
10.38 0.38 60
43.6
148.3
20.4
42  13
94  48
0.15 
Commercial  6.12  0.18
16  13.1
53.7
0
2
20
0.4
                       
LETTUCE
 
                   
Organic
24.48
0.43
71
49.3
176.5
12.2
37
169
516
60
0.19
Commercial
7.01
0.22
16  13.1
53.7
0
1
9
3
0
                       
TOMATOES
                     
Organic
28.56
0.52
23
59.2
148.3
6.5
36
68
1938
53
0.63
Commercial
12.38
0.27
4.5  4.5
58.8
0
3
1
0
0
                       
SPINACH                      
Organic
28.56
0.52
96
203.9
237
69.5
88
117
1584
32
0.25 
Commercial
12.38  0.27
47.5
46.9
84.6  0
12
1
49
0.3
0.2

 

ORGANIC FOODS AND CHILDREN

Feeding children mostly organic produce as opposed to conventionally farmed produce could reduce a child’s pesticide exposure, according to a study.

Researchers interviewed families with children 2 to 5 years old. Children who ate at least 75 percent organic produce were classified as organic while those who ate at least 75 percent conventional produce were classified as conventional.

The study found that children who ate primarily organic produce had one-sixth the level of pesticide byproducts in their urine compared with children who ate non-organic food.

Environmental Health Perspectives March 2003;111(3):377-82


I hope you have found this collection of articles interesting…Food for thought as it were.

 

Until next time,

Dr. Pais