Nutrition Expert- Saba Shaikh, Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
The choice of consuming organic foods is thus a growing trend in the world of today following the realization of healthy self improvement needs. However, finding accurate facts about organic foods has always been confusing as people have varied opinions regarding its benefits as a whole.
What is Organic Food?
The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.
Organic food refers to food products that are produced, prepared, and processed without the use of any chemicals. It means organic food production prohibits the use of chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or chemical preservatives. (1)
Consequently, organic foods are increasingly gaining popularity because a greater portion of the population wants to know its benefits. The general public belief is that organic food is healthier compared to the conventional ones, and it’s the primary reason for its increased demand over the past decade.
A 2014 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition found that organically grown crops were not only less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticides, but because of differences in fertilization techniques, they were also 48% less likely to test positive for cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the liver and kidneys. (2)
The positive effects of antioxidants on overall health have been established in a number of scientific studies, especially those derived from organic foods. This is because organic foods are free of foreign chemicals that normally react with vitamins, organic compounds and minerals thus lowering the essential positive impacts of antioxidants in food products. (3)
In a recent six-year study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that organic onions had about a 20% higher antioxidant content than conventionally grown onions. They also theorized that previous analyses, several of which have found no difference in conventional versus organic antioxidant levels, may have been thwarted by too-short study periods and confounding variables like weather. (4)
Better overall health
Because organic food is not produced or processed by the use of chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers, it does not contain any elements of toxic chemicals and may not affect human health in harmful ways. The use of natural techniques such as green manure to fertilize the lands and crop rotation in pest and disease control work absolutely well in producing safer, healthier, and smellier final food products. Besides, healthy foodstuff simply means healthy people and better nourishment for a better living for both people and animals. (3)
Improved Heart condition
Exclusive grazing on natural grass increases the amounts of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) found in animal products. The suns energy is well taken in by natural grass through photosynthesis and is converted into the most desirable organic CLA by the herbivores that feed on it. CLA is a heart-healthy fatty acid with the potential of bolstering cardiovascular protection, and it is found in higher quantities in the meat and milk products of animals that have been pastured in free range.
Humans are susceptible to various health issues and disease, and most of the time they have to take precautionary measures to ensure they remain healthy. This is achieved by getting a variety of vaccinations and antibiotic drugs when a new strain of virus or bacteria is realized. Similarly, non-organic food sources (especially livestock and feeds) use vaccines, growth hormones, animal byproducts, and antibiotics to treat and feed the animals.
When humans consume the non-organic food products, they indirectly consume the antibiotics, growth hormones and vaccines which weaken immune systems on the account of antibiotic, vaccine, hormones, and animal byproducts overdose. This may alter the immune system thereby rendering humans unable to defend themselves against diseases. The benefit of organic foods is that their production processes does not involve the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, animal byproducts, or vaccines.
Apart from nutrition, the mineral and sugar structures in organic foods are tasty because the crops are given more time to develop and mature. The use of natural and environmentally friendly agricultural production techniques is revealed to be the reason for the better taste in organic food products. It is commonly reported that the taste of organic vegetables and fruits are of higher quality compared to those that are conventionally grown.
Chemical pesticides consumption is linked to a variety of diseases and disorders namely cancers, digestive dysfunctions, headaches, ADHD, birth defects, weakened immune system, and even premature death. Organic foods are free of pesticides and that is why they are preferable for attaining a better overall health. As much as pesticides have the power of keeping certain pests away from the crops, they also have potent chemicals like organophosphorus.
These chemicals are unnatural and they are the mineral compounds that bring about several health abnormalities in humans. Organophosphorus, for instance, is associated with various developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism. Organic food products therefore offer a better healthy living, especially for children who are potentially affected by the pesticide toxins during their developmental ages.
Stronger immune system
The traditional or industrial farming practices aim at enhancing production and farm output by all means necessary. For example, the notion of producing more cereals, more meat and bigger fruits through genetic modifications and use of growth hormones seems to solve some of the world’s food insecurity concerns. The effects are not yet visible, but in the long-term, the consequences are sensitivity to allergens and a major reduction in immune system strength.
By eating organic foods, the risks of decline in immune system strength are significantly reduced because organic foods are not altered at all. Furthermore, organic foods have quality and higher vitamin and mineral contents that help to strengthen the human immune system.
Organic products are poison-free
Organic farming does not use any kind of dangerous chemicals to keep away pests and diseases. All the practices are natural and thus do not harm the consumer. Aspects such as biomagnification are lessened via the practice of organic farming as chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and artificial growth hormones are all prohibited on an organic farm. Therefore, organic food products are free of contamination with health harming chemical substances.
Consumption of highly nutritious food products
Organic food products such as organic meat, organic milk, organic fish, and organic poultry contain very high nutritional content because they do not contain modified ingredients compared to the conventional agricultural food products. Another factor that makes them highly nutritious is that they are given time to develop and are provided with the best natural conditions for growth. The vitamin and mineral contents of organic food products are always high as the soil life and health offers the most suitable mechanism for crops to access soil nutrients.
Organic foods are locally grown and pose very minimal interference to the environmental resources that support healthy living. Since harmful chemicals are forbidden in organic farming, there is minimum water, air, and soil pollution therefore ensuring a healthier and safer environment. To be precise, organic farming lessens the long-term human health implications caused by air, water, and soil pollution. (3)
Organic products are more expensive than conventional ones, and whether they’re really worth the extra cost is certainly a matter of choice. “If you can afford all organic, that’s fantastic, but it’s not feasible for most people,”