Does “Organic” Matter?

There has been some exciting and interesting nutrition news in the last few months, particularly surrounding organic foods. We’ve talked with so many of our women to help them make the best decision for themselves and their families, so we thought we would share with our entire community!

In October, the results of a large observational study surrounding organic foods and cancer risk were published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Many times studies surrounding health and nutrition are observational studies. As defined by the National Cancer Institute, this is when “individuals are observed or certain outcomes are measured. No attempt is made to affect the outcome.” The goal of the researcher is to derive inferences from the behavior of the study population.

In this French study, researchers followed nearly 69,000 study participants and found that higher organic food consumption was associated with a reduction in the risk of overall cancer, specifically postmenopausal breast cancer and all lymphomas.

The Environmental Working Group also released findings of tests performed on several oat-based cereals and oat-based foods, including both conventional and organic types.  They measured for residual glyphosate, an herbicide, classified as “probably carcinogenic” to people by the International Agency for Research. Findings showed glyphosate in all but two of the 45 samples of products made with conventional oats. In addition, one-third of 16 samples of products made with organic oats contained glyphosate.

What does this mean? Well, we think this is all very important news and hopefully the start of much needed research in the realm of organic food! But this is just that – the start.  While this information is helpful when considering overall health and wellness, in the grand scheme it is still preliminary. There are limitations to both pieces of information, which is why we need more data. We are not yet at the point of changing our overall dietary recommendations for cancer prevention.

Instead, we encourage you to simply continue eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and overall whole foods.  We know with certainty that eating more of these foods, while reducing the added sugars and processed foods, lowers our risk of developing many chronic diseases, including cancer.

If you want to start making the switch to buying some organic foods, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start with the foods you eat most often. Keep a food journal to help you identify those foods.
  • For help with choosing organic produce, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen/Clean 15. Their annual list shows the produce that has the highest/lowest measured pesticide residue. Again, start with the few that you consume regularly.
  • Consider your animal foods, including dairy. To balance out any price difference, reduce the portions of these foods on your plate, which frees up more space for your veggies!
  • Buy organic foods in bulk – such as your breakfast oats. This is a great way to save a few dollars!

Overall, we hope this helps you better understand the nutrition information made available to the public and how to best apply it to your life. We want you to feel good about the food choices you make for you and your family, and promise to do our best to continue to educate, support and guide you.

References:

JAMA

EWG

IARC

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Unite for HER and author are not responsible for any specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision and are not liable for any damages or negative consequences from any treatment, action, application or preparation, to any person reading or following the information in this article. References are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute endorsement of any websites or other sources. Readers should be aware that the products listed in this article may change.