“Organic food” is the term defined to the food that is grown without the use of any harmful external agents. In today’s world of toxicity, Organic Food helps ease some burden on our bodies to maintain a better health. Farmers who produce “Organic Foods” are strictly instructed to not use products like GMO’s (Genetically Modified organisms), synthetic pesticides and petroleum or sewage-based fertilizers. The recent trend of going Organic has shown some improvement in overall health in human beings.
Benefits of Organic Food
According to a few recent findings:
- People who ate mostly organic food were more physically active and have a lower risk of being overweight/ obese.
- Organic food consumers have also shown significant reduction in hypertension and some types of cancers.
- Pregnant women who have consumed mostly or completely organic foods have shown lower rates of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and fetal macrosomia.
- Lower risk of eczema has been seen in Infants below 2 yrs. of age.
- Lesser symptoms of allergies and improved IQ in children have also been seen.
Some limited studies by Nutrinet-Santé study shows that consumption of organic foods exhibited a lower incidence of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia (in both males and females), and cardiovascular disease (in men).
Effects of Organic Food on Immunity and Gut Health
A healthy gut is the key to a healthy body. The gut, namely the Oesophagus (food pipe), Stomach and the Intestines (small and large intestine) help in digesting food and absorbing nutrients into our bodies which help maintain good health. The intestines are lined with numerous finger-like projections called Villi which are further divided into micro-villi or brush border cells. These consists of many micro-organisms or microbiomes, which help in absorption of nutrients in the body.
Any disruption in gut function can cause an imbalance in health. Choosing organic foods over conventional foods helps in maintaining this flora. Non organic foods or conventional foods that are grown using inorganic/ chemical fertilizers causes dysfunction of the gut and cause many health problems. This way the immunity of the body decreases and it becomes more susceptible to diseases.
Organic Food Vs Conventional Food for Mothers and Infants
The Gut is the major distributor of nutrients in our body. All the nutrients that get absorbed through the gut is then transported throughout the body via blood. Inorganic foods which are loaded with pesticides and fertilizers not only reduce gut function, but also transport unhealthy contaminants across the body and cause toxicity.
During pregnancy, our bodies go through lots of physical and hormonal changes. Optimal nutrition in this phase helps attain a healthy mother and a healthy fetus. Organic food helps to provide pure forms of essential nutrients. This helps the gut to function properly and transport the same to the fetus in turn keeping it healthy.
Inorganic foods contain chemicals like metam sodium and methyl bromide that can cause serious consequences like birth defects in infants and cardiac arrest and nervous system damage in adults.
Bacterial exposure of the baby’s digestive track starts during birth and is developed up to the age of four. According to a study at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston USA), gut function in infants takes place in 3 stages.
- Developmental phase (3- 14 months)
- Transitional phase (15- 30 months)
- Stable phase (31 months onwards)
Chemical exposure during the developmental and transitional phase of the infant can lead to serious health issues thus depleting the gut functions. This can result in serious physical and mental disabilities.
Organic food on the other hand, because it is sourced with organic sources like plant and animal wastes, treat the soil with much natural nutrients. These foods when consumed provide us with pure forms of nutrients which nourish our body.
Health Benefits of Organic Food for Moms and Babies
Consuming organic foods is beneficial in many ways during pregnancy and infancy:
- A healthy mother bears a healthy child. Hence, if the mother eats healthy and clean, the fetus gets good nutrition too.
- Organic fruits and vegetables provide roughage to the body which reduces constipation which is a very common occurrence during pregnancy.
- It provides about 69% higher amount of antioxidants as compared to conventional foods.
- It is rich in vitamins (A, B C, K). It provides almost 52% higher amount of Vitamin C. Consumption of Vitamin C aids in iron absorption in the body.
- It provides important minerals like calcium, iron, folate and potassium which is essential for the growing fetus.
- Organic foods have significantly lower amounts of Nitrates as compared to conventional crops. Studies have shown that Nitrate levels are almost 30% lower in these crops.
- Organic foods also have lower amounts of Cadmium. It is almost 48% lower in organic produce.
- Organic food/ Organic baby food also helps the infant build a healthy immune system as no harmful substance is going into their body.
Studies show that organic fruits and vegetables are more likely to have higher levels of nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts.
Food Packaging – Organic Vs Conventional
- Packaging is as important as ingredients used in the formula.
- If the company is providing you an organic product, but the packaging is done using synthetic preservatives/ additives to increase quality and shelf life, it is still going to harm the body.
- Preservatives/ additives used in preparing or packing the formula is usually printed on the label.
- Two types of Preservatives can be used – natural (Class I Preservatives) or synthetic (Class II Preservatives)
- Preservatives are sometimes marked using a number code system (eg: E211- Sodium benzoate, E284- Boric Acid)
- Natural preservatives include salt, sugar, alcohol, vinegar, etc which have been the age-old traditional method of food preservation.
- Synthetic preservatives include benzoate, sorbates, nitrites/ nitrates, sulphites, glutamites and glycerides of which some are carcinogenic to the body.
According to a source:
|Organic Food Packaging||Conventional Food Packaging|
|100% Organic Ingredients used, no synthetics can be added||>2000 synthetic ingredients, colors and preservatives are allowed|
|Requires certification by independent certified experts every year||Does not require any approval from the NDA for using chemicals|
|Things allowed to be used in organic foods are proven safe for consumption and have no harmful effects on the environment||Chemicals like sodium nitrate and butylated hydroxy anisole are used which are listed as “Human Carcinogens” by NIH|
|Added flavors are derived from non-synthetic natural substances||Flavors can be made up of more than 100 chemicals that do not have to be labelled on the packages.|
The above table shows the safety prospectus of organic foods. Consuming foods loaded with preservatives/ additives surely does enhance its flavor and shelf life, but when it gets ingested, it can cause serious harm to the body. It can cause severe allergies, asthma, neurological degeneration, loss of consciousness, and with any co-morbidity it may even be fatal.
Quality of food matters most when it comes to health. To promise a good health for ones-self, one has to make sure to invest in good quality food. In today’s world of chemicals, eating organic food promises to reduce the burden on our body by providing it with fresh and undiluted nutrients that helps us and the newer generations to maintain good health.
So go ahead and choose the best food for both you and your growing baby!