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organic foods

  • Although I typically write about nutraceuticals, I thought I’d address a different topic for this issue: whether or not organic foods are actually better than conventional foods. It’s a question I’m often asked.

    Statistics & Definition
    Over the past few decades, sales of organic foods have consistently increased. U.S. organic food sales in 2018 were no exception. According to Nielsen Homescan household projected data, organic food sales during the 52 weeks ending November 28, 2018, rose nearly nine percent over the previous period, surpassing $21 billion.1 Clearly, consumers are willing to pay the typical 10 to 40 percent higher price for organic foods over conventionally produced foods. But why? According to one survey2, the main reasons consumers purchased organic foods were for the avoidance of pesticides (70 percent), for freshness (68 percent), for health and nutrition (67 percent), and to avoid genetically modified foods (55 percent).

    Now that we know why consumers buy organic food, let’s define organic food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

    Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.3

    After reading the USDA’s definition of organic and the results of the previously cited consumer survey, one might think that organic foods would be universally accepted as being healthier than conventionally grown foods. However, this is not necessarily the case. For example, the USDA “makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.”4 So, does this mean that the public has been duped and there is really no significant benefit to using organic foods over conventional foods? To answer this question from a scientific perspective, let’s examine the research.

    The Research on Organic Foods

    In a study on the “Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains,”5 organic crops were found to contain significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus and significantly fewer nitrates than conventional crops (see chart on following page). There were nonsignificant trends showing less protein but of better quality and a higher content of nutritionally significant minerals with lower amounts of some heavy metals in organic crops compared to conventional ones.

    In a review6 of earlier research, studies showed that organic fertilization practices produce crops that also had higher levels of ascorbic acid, lower levels of nitrate, and improved protein quality compared with conventionally grown crops. In addition, animal studies showed better growth and reproduction in animals fed organically grown feed compared with those fed conventionally grown feed.

    In other research, organic crops contained a significantly higher amount of certain antioxidants (vitamin C, polyphenols and flavonoids) and minerals than conventional ones. Moreover, there was a lower level of pesticide residues, nitrate and some heavy metal contaminations in organic crops compared to conventional ones. A relationship was seen between the different fertilization and plant protection methods of these two plant production systems and the nutritional composition of crops. The conclusion was that organically produced plant-derived food products have a higher nutritional value, including antioxidants than conventional ones.7 Furthermore, due to the lower level of contamination in organic crops, the risk of diseases caused by contaminated food was thought to be significantly reduced.

    organic crops vs conventional crops

    According to Organic farming, food quality and, human health: A review of the evidence8, “A comprehensive review of existing research reveals significant differences between organically and nonorganically grown food. These differences relate to food safety, primary nutrients, secondary nutrients [aka, phytochemicals] and health outcomes demonstrated by feeding trials.” With regard to food safety:

    • Nearly all pesticides are prohibited in organic farming.
    • There is no evidence linking organically produced foods with an increased risk of food poisoning.
    • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their derivatives are prohibited in organic production.
    • The routine, growth promoting or prophylactic use of antibiotics is prohibited in organic standards for animal husbandry.
    • No record has been found of any case of BSE, suspected of being linked to new variant CJD in humans, in an animal born and reared organically.
    • More than 500 additives are permitted for use in nonorganically processed foods, compared with around 30 permitted in organic processing.
    • Studies have shown lower levels of potentially harmful nitrate in organically produced crops.
    With regard to primary nutrients:
    • Vitamin C and dry matter contents are higher, on average, in organically grown crops.
    • Mineral contents are also higher, on average, in organically grown crops.
    • Research indicates a clear long-term decline in the trace mineral content of fruit and vegetables, and the influence of farming practices requires further investigation.
    With regard to phytochemicals:
    • Research is beginning to confirm the expectation that organic crops contain an increased range and volume of naturally occurring compounds known variously as secondary plant metabolites or phytochemicals.
    • Phytochemicals increase the capacity of plants to withstand external challenges from pests and diseases, and an increasing number of them are also known to be beneficial to humans.

    Nevertheless, not all studies have shown higher levels of nutrients or phytochemicals in organic goods. In a review9 of eleven studies comparing organic and conventional foods with respect to nutrient/phytochemical levels, nine of the studies demonstrated higher levels while two of the studies found no differences. Of course, nine out of eleven studies are still reasonably impressive.

    Even in research that did not find strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in concentrations of various nutrients, other health benefits were still seen in organic foods (e.g., a reduction in nitrate content10), and reasonably consistent findings were still seen for higher nitrate and lower vitamin C contents of conventionally-produced vegetables.11

    On August 22, 2002, Dr. Erik Steen Kristensen of the Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming presented data on food safety from an organic perspective at the 14th International In a presentation given at a European conference on organic food and farming12, the impact of organic foods on health and safety was addressed. The data presented showed overwhelmingly positive results for both health and safety (see table below).

    Health and Safety Impact of Organic Foods

    Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements Congress in Victoria, Canada. Dr. Kristensen offered reasons to consider organic foods, specific reasons associated with the risks of conventionally farmed foods13:

    • Discovery of animals with BSE—Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, aka, mad cow disease
    • Increased occurrence of Salmonella in meat and eggs
    • Increased occurrence of campylobacter in meat
    • Listeria in dairy products
    • Increased occurrence of dioxin in food and fodder
    • Too high amounts of pesticides, antibiotics, additives, etc. in food
    • Toxic fungi in food from stocks

    The Research on Organic Farming

    In addition to nutrition and health, another area of consideration associated with the benefits of organic foods, or more specifically organic farming, is biodiversity. Organic agriculture has been confirmed as environmentally sound and more sustainable than mainstream agriculture. In fact, the World Wildlife Fund supports organic farming because it benefits people and nature:

    It is a system that is essential for conserving biodiversity, especially in the center of fields. It avoids the release of toxic pesticide residues into the environment, and it supports rural development, fair trade, food safety, animal welfare, and market-oriented production. No other farming system encapsulates all these benefits and in a way that the public can easily recognize.15

    A research project conducted by Britain's Soil Association and sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund indicated that in most studies important differences have been found between the biodiversity on the organic and conventional farms, generally with substantially greater levels of both abundance and diversity of species on the organic farms. This includes:16

    • Plants: five times as many wild plants in arable fields, 57 percent more species and several rare and declining wild arable species found only on the organic farms.
    • Birds: 25 percent more birds at the field edge, 44 percent more in-field in autumn/winter; 2.2 times as many breeding skylarks and higher skylark breeding rates.
    • Invertebrates: 1.6 times as many of the arthropods that comprise bird food; three times as many non-pest butterflies in the crop areas; one to five times as many spider numbers and one to two times as many spider species.
    • Crop pests: a significant decrease in aphid numbers; no change in numbers of pest butterflies.
    • Distribution of the biodiversity benefits: though the field boundaries had the highest levels of wildlife, the highest increases were found in the cropped areas of the fields.
    • Quality of the habitats: both the field boundary and crop habitats were more favorable on the organic farms.
    • The field boundaries: they had more trees, larger hedges and no spray drift; the crops were sparser, with no herbicides, allowing more weeds; there was also more grassland and a greater variety of crop types.
    • Organic farming was identified as having many beneficial practices: reversing the trends in conventional farming that have caused the decline in biodiversity: crop rotations with grass leys, mixed spring and autumn sowing, more permanent pasture, no use of herbicides or synthetic pesticides and use of "green manure."

    The general consensus of other research17,18 comparing conventional and organic systems of farming was that organic farming is less damaging to the environment for the following reasons:

    • They don't consume or release synthetic pesticides into the environment. This is significant since some of the pesticides may harm soil, water and local terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.
    • They are better at sustaining diverse ecosystems, including populations of plants and insects, as well as animals.
    • When calculated either per unit area or per unit of yield, they use less energy and produce less waste.

    Further to this last point, one study19 found a 20 percent smaller yield from organic farms using 50 percent less fertilizer and 97 percent less pesticide. In addition, a study20 in 2007 compiled research from 293 different comparisons between organic and conventional farming to assess the overall efficiency of the two agricultural systems. The authors concluded, "Organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base."

    One researcher pointed out that, related to the environmentally sound nature of organic farming, the consumers' well-being is based on the certainty "that by purchasing, eating and enjoying organic food, one has contributed to a better future and an improved environment. These effects with their social implications along with improved animal welfare may, in the end, be more important than any measurable contribution of balanced Western diets to individual nutritional health."21

    Conclusion
    To answer the earlier posed question, no the public has not been duped. There really are significant benefits to using organic foods over their conventional counterparts. These include health, nutrition and environmental benefits.

    References
    1. Smith H. Organic Sales Soared in 2018: Nielsen. Food Industry Executive. January 9, 2019. Retrieved May 29, 2019 from https://foodindustryexecutive.com/2019/01/organic-sales-soared-in-2018-nielsen/
    2. Whole Foods Market. 2005 Whole Foods Market organic trend tracker. Austin, Tex.: Whole FoodsMarket; 2005.
    3. Organic Food Standards and Labels: The Facts. National Organic Program. Retrieved June 6, 2006 from http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html
    4. Organic Food Standards and Labels: The Facts. National Organic Program. Retrieved June 6, 2006 from http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html.
    5. Worthington V. Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains. J Alternative Compl Med 2001; (7)2:161–73.
    6. Worthington V. Effect of agricultural methods on nutritional quality: a comparison of organic with conventional crops. Altern Ther Health Med 1998(1):58–69.
    7. Györéné KG, Varga A, Lugasi A. A comparison of chemical composition and nutritional value of organically and conventionally grown plant derived foods. Orv Hetil 2006;147(43):2081–90.
    8. Organic farming, food quality and,human health: A review of the evidence. Bristol, United Kingdom: Soil Association; 2006.
    9. Winter CK, Davis SF. Organic Foods. Journal of Food Science 2006; 71(9):R117–R124.
    10. Bourn D, Prescott J. A comparison of the nutritional value, sensory qualities, and food safety of organically and conventionally produced foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2002;42(1):1–34.
    11. Williams CM. Nutritional quality of organic food: shades of grey or shades of green? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2002; 61:19–24.
    12. O’Doherty Jensen K, Larsen HN, Mølgaard JP, Andersen J-O, Tingstad A, Marckmann P, Astrup A. 2001. Organic foods and human health. Proceedings of the European conference: Organic Food and Farming. Towards Partnership and Action in Europe. Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Copenhagen 10–11 May 2001, 172–77.
    13. Kristensen ES. Food safety in an organic perspective. 14th IFOAM Congress, Victoria, Canada; August 22nd 2002. Accessed on May 25, 2005 from http://orgprints.org/19/03/Kristensen_IFOAM_2002.ppt
    14. Köpke U. Organic foods: do they have a role? Forum Nutr 2005;(57):62–72.
    15. The Biodiversity Benefits of Organic Farming. Bristol, United Kingdom: Soil Association; 2000.
    16. The Biodiversity Benefits of Organic Farming. Bristol, United Kingdom: Soil Association; 2000.
    17. Stolze M, Piorr A, Häring AM, Dabbert S. 2000. Environmental impacts of organic farming in Europe. Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy Vol. 6. Universität Hohenheim, Stuttgart-Hohenheim.
    18. Hansen B, Alrøe HJ, Kristensen ES. Approaches to assess the environmental impact of organic farming with particular regard to Denmark. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 2001; 83:11–26.
    19. Mäder P, Fliessbach A, Dubois D, Gunst L, Fried P, Niggli U. Soil Fertility and Biodiversity in Organic Farming. Science 2002; 296:1694–7.
    20. Perfecto et al, In Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 2007; 22: 86-108 Cambridge University Press: cited in New Scientist 13:46 12 July 2007.
    21. Köpke U. Organic foods: do they have a role? Forum Nutr 2005;(57):62–72.
  • Editor's note:Organics is the newest column for TotalHealth readers. It's important for our personal and family health and that of Mother Earth.

    You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Reason: It's more sustainable and it costs less!

    What?! Do you think that organic shopping comes with a higher price tag than conventional? You may have noticed that the dollar amount charged for organic produce and products can often be higher than conventional. There are a number of reasons for this (note that you won't ALWAYS be charged more for organic, but this will usually be the case):

    • Conventional farming uses intensive production methods supported by quick fix chemical fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. Organic farming does not.
    • In organic farming, chemicals used are natural and biodegradable so they don't hurt the environment. If antibiotics must be used on sick animals they are kept apart from other animals for a certain period of time. Antibiotics are not routinely used like they often are in conventional farming.
    • Organically reared animals take longer to reach marketable size because growth promoting hormones and protein rich feeds are not allowed.
    • Yields from organic farming are lower because natural methods are used to grow healthy crops, rather than chemical solutions that can result in dire consequences for our health and the environment. Some of the natural methods using in organic farming include crop rotation, companion planting, and use of manure. The farmers have a good understanding of ecology.
    • Organic farming is more labour intensive—people are used to remove weeds, or natural treatments are used. The focus is on control, rather than annihilation of pests and weeds.
    • Paying low/unjust wages is against organic practice.

    Conventional farming is simply not sustainable. Air and water pollution results in a huge cost to the environment, and plants and wildlife habitats suffer. Excess consumption of toxic chemicals comes at a massive cost to our health, for example the potential for endocrine disruption as a result of pesticide use. So really, if we look holistically at the implications of conventional versus organic farming in terms of social, environmental and health factors, which one costs more? Rather than asking "Why does organic cost so much" perhaps we should ask "Why is conventional so cheap?"

    The information in this article was gathered from our knowledge of organic practices as well as the book "Organic — a new way of eating." Sophie Grigson and William Black. Headline Book Publishing 2001

  • 'A CALORIE IS A CALORIE' IS AN AMBIGUOUS PHRASE. IN ONE SENSE IT IS TRIVIALLY TRUE, AS IN GERTRUDE STEIN'S FAMOUS PHRASE, 'A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE'. In another sense it is obviously questionable, because it assumes no difference between the energy produced by burning food in a bomb calorimeter and that generated by metabolic processes. It also assumes that as far as effect on body weight is concerned, fat is bad because fat by itself is calorie-dense per unit of weight, and carbohydrate and protein are good because they are relatively low in calories. It further assumes that in terms of weight gained or lost, there is no difference between diets that include the same number of kilocalories say from rice, greens and fish, or from French fries, burgers and cola, or from Danish pastries, frappuccinos and gin slings.1

    Over the last decade, researchers have started looking more closely at assumptions going back more than a century regarding calories and the macronutrients carbohydrate, fat and protein. Most dieters are familiar with calorie counting and long lists of calorie tables for food portions. Indeed, the FDA mandates this information on Nutrition Facts panels and even some dietary supplements have begun to engage in this practice. One problem, as most dieters learn from bitter experience, is that over the long term calorie counting does not work. Other than in starvation mode, a condition under which all calories consumed regardless of their source are metabolized quickly to fill the deficit, the body treats calories from different sources differently and it treats calories according to the combinations in which they are consumed, the time of day, and so forth and so on. Food preparation, meal preparation, dietary patterns, etc., all count. In other words, it is not true that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.

    Eat Fat, Live Longer?
    Let's start with an extreme, the effect of a ketogenic diet. In this diet, the preponderance of calories is derived from fats. A University of California, Davis study published early this year, found that a long-term ketogenic diet (89–90 percent of total calorie intake) in a mouse model significantly increased median lifespan and survival compared to controls. Moreover, in aged mice only those consuming a ketogenic diet preserved normal physiological functions (strength, coordination, prevention of age-related markers of inflammation). In short, the ketogenic diet, even though it did not alter the maximal span of life, extended both overall longevity and healthspan in mice.2 How much? There was a 13 percent increase in median life span for the mice on a high-fat versus high-carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 additional years with better health along the way.

    Another research team, this time at the University of California, San Francisco and associated aging institutes, discovered that a cyclic ketogenic diet, meaning that it was alternated weekly with the control diet to prevent obesity, reduced midlife mortality without affecting maximum lifespan. The researchers observed that a non-ketogenic high-fat diet fed similarly may have an intermediate effect on mortality. A non-obesogenic ketogenic diet improved survival, memory, and healthspan in aging mice according to these finding.3

    Note that there was no attempt in the foregoing studies to determine whether a change in the nature of the carbohydrates fed to the animals in a non-ketogenic high fat diet affects outcomes. However, even without a direct study, evidence abounds from indirect studies. Many carbohydrate sources are close to fiber in their influence on blood sugar levels and, in line with this, promote digestive health and gut probiotic diversity. In contrast, the modern American and common Western diets in general are ultra-processed diets. The healthfulness of ultra-processed foodstuffs is quite different from that of foods processed and prepared more traditionally, including, it turns out, from supposedly unhealthful foods.

    Ultra-processed Foods
    A few years ago, Harry Preuss, MD of Georgetown University and I wrote a chapter for a medical text on the metabolic syndrome. We began by observing.

    Throughout the world, many elements comprising the Metabolic Syndrome (MS) such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemias are becoming alarmingly common. Although many etiological factors may be involved in this situation, one hypothesis is that a well recognized increased consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates (CHO) such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) plays a pivotal role in the increase of these unwanted entities.4

    An Increasing Content of Empty Calories
    Food refining, processing and meal preparation techniques favored in the United States and in much of the Western World, including especially fast and convenience foods, have led to dramatic changes in food quality. Definitions of ultra-processed foods provide clues as to why this should be the case. In one study of dietary intakes of 9,317 participants from 2009 to 2010, food items were classified into unprocessed or minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods.5

    Ultra-processed foods are formulations manufactured using several ingredients and a series of processes (hence "ultra-processed"). Most of their ingredients are lower cost industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients, and additives used for the purpose of imitating sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods or of culinary preparations of these foods, or to disguise undesirable sensory qualities of the final product. They are made to be hyper-palatable and attractive by the use of many additives, with long shelf life, and are able to be consumed anywhere, anytime. Ultra-processed foods include but are not limited to soft drinks, sweet or savory snacks, reconstituted meat products, and pre-prepared frozen dishes.

    The average content of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium in the US diet are decreased significantly in ultra-processed foods, whereas carbohydrate, added sugar, and saturated fat contents are increased. As the degree of ultra-processed food increases as the source of total calories, the overall dietary quality measured in terms of a nutrient-balance-pattern of fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C goes down.

    In another study, "ultra-processed foods were defined as industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations." In the 2009–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the US diet, ultra-processed foods were found to constitute 57.9 percent of total energy. The content of added sugars in ultra-processed foods (21.1 percent of calories) was eight times that in processed foods (2.4 percent) and five times that in unprocessed or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients grouped together (3.7 percent). Consumption of added sugars increased linearly as ultra-processed food consumption increased. It went from 7.5 percent of total energy in those in the bottom one fifth of consumption of ultra-processed foods to 19.5 percent in the highest one fifth. A total of 82.1 percent of Americans in the highest quintile exceeded the recommended limit of 10 percent energy from added sugars compared with 26.4 percent in the lowest.6

    Consequences of Differences in Food Quality
    As populations shift from more traditional foods and food preparations, there can be serious consequences. These consequences include increases in obesity and cardiovascular disease. As an example of the first of these, a study of food consumption in nineteen European countries spanning 1991—2008 found a clear pattern. There was a median average household availability of 33.9 percent total purchased dietary energy for unprocessed or minimally processed foods, 20.3 percent for processed culinary ingredients, 19.6 percent for processed foods and 26.4 percent for ultra-processed foods. The average household availability of ultra-processed foods ranged from 10.2 percent in Portugal and 13.4 percent in Italy to 46.2 percent in Germany and 50.4 percent in the UK. As the percentage of total energy from ultra-processed foods increased, so did the rate of obesity. On average, for each percentage point increase in the household availability of ultra-processed foods there was an increase of 0.25 percentage points in obesity.7 Estimates suggest that merely cutting in half the amounts of processed and ultra-processed foods consumed as components of the overall diet in the UK could result in approximately 13 percent fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases by 2030.8

    Benefits of Traditional Foodstuffs
    Ultra-processing is but one issue among several regarding the impact of modern farming, processing and preparation of foods. It does not take into account the benefits of returning to farming practices less dependent on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides or intensive energy use. It does not take into account the effects of removing genetically modified organisms from the food chain. It does not take into account returning to the use of varietals that produce more protein and minerals per acre and less starch, and so forth and so on.9 Nor does it take into account issues such as the negative consequences of the consumption of ultra-pasteurized and homogenized milk nor the move to A1 milk (the A1 protein is actually a histidine-rich mutated form of casein, and is commonly found in US dairy products).10

    Going Organic and Non-GMO
    Can such changes be embraced? Much evidence suggests that the answer is "yes" to all points. This includes lower use of pesticides, higher yields in nutrients and experimentally better results from consuming the resulting foodstuffs.11,12,13,14,15,16 A significant finding from a 30-year ongoing trial is that organic farming is not less efficient nor inferior in production for many or even most crops. After a 30-year side-by-side trial, a report by the Rodale Institute found:17,18

    • Organic yields match conventional yields.
    • Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
    • Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system.
    • Organic farming uses 45 percent less energy and is more efficient.
    • Conventional systems produce 40 percent more greenhouse gases.
    • Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.

    Unexpected Benefits of Traditional Foods

    In previous Total Health articles, it has been pointed out that a number of "exotic" foods, such as pomegranate, support health in unexpected ways, such as promoting changes in gastrointestinal bacteria. Now, it seems, that food items traditionally found in European cuisines may have similar benefits. For instance, the bacterium Propionibacterium freudenreichii, which is used in the fermentation of Emmentale—the proper name of Swiss cheese, because it came from the Emmental region of Switzerland—benefits health. The bacterium turns lactate into acetate, carbon dioxide and propionate. Acetate and propionate are known to benefit the immune system and propionate supports the health of the lining of the intestinal tract. Other lactic bacteria in Swiss cheese, Weisella koreensis and Weissella cibaria, extend the lifespan by protecting the body against stress and the invasion of pathogens and promoting an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system.19 Other aged cheese, such as cheddar, blue, brie, Parmesan, Gouda, Gruyère and some forms of mozzarella, also provide longevity and related benefits in a number of models.

    Another route by which gut bacteria improve health is the production of a compound known as indole. Indole is produced by many types of bacteria through breakdown of the amino acid tryptophan.20 Indole and its chemical relatives can be found in plants, especially vegetables such as broccoli and kale. However, tryptophan also is found in eggs, cheese, tofu, salmon, turkey and some nuts and seeds. The key for transformation of the amino acid to indole is the gut bacteria, hence success involves more than merely adding this amino acid to the diet. Likewise, balance is the key: many meats supply tryptophan and thus are healthful in appropriate amounts, yet unbalance gut bacteria if consumed in excess.

    Putting It Together
    In August 2017, a major British cardiologist, Anseem Malhotra, who holds that cardiovascular disease is caused by inflammation rather than by fats,21 put out an interview entitled, "Choose The Pioppi Diet Over Statins To Beat Heart Disease."22 It provides an interesting discussion matching much of the information found above. Here are some of the key recommendations:

    • Don't fear fat. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are the real enemies.
    • Keep moving. Walk as much as possible.
    • Extra virgin olive oil is medicine. Eat some every day. And nuts are important, too. Pioppians eat plenty of hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds.
    • Get seven hours of sleep a night. Adequate sleep is required for good health.
    • Stop counting calories. What you eat is more important than how much you eat.
    • Eat eggs. Many Pioppians eat 10 a week.
    • Pile on the vegetables. Eat big helpings of fresh, organic vegetables in at least two meals a day.

    Long time readers of TotalHealth will recognize that Dr. Malhotra's recommendations based on his study of Pioppi longevity look quite similar to the Okinawan dietary pattern in many respects. Along with an only moderate intake of carbohydrates (much less rice than is typical of the Japanese diet generally) and plenty of fish and eggs, the Okinawans consume bitter melon similarly to how the Pioppians consume extra virgin olive oil, which is to say, routinely or even daily. The evidence is that these types of dietary practices coupled with exercise and other healthful habits reduce most of the elements that we have come to associate—wrongly—with declining health in advancing years.23

    References:

    1. Monteiro CA, Cannon G. Calories do not add up. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Mar;18(4):569 .70.
    2. Roberts MN, Wallace MA, Tomilov AA, Zhou Z, Marcotte GR, Tran D, Perez G, Gutierrez-Casado E, Koike S, Knotts TA, Imai DM, Griffey SM, Kim K, Hagopian K, Haj FG, Baar K, Cortopassi GA, Ramsey JJ, Lopez-Dominguez JA. A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice. Cell Metab. 2017 Sep 5;26(3):539 .46.e5.
    3. Newman JC, Covarrubias AJ, Zhao M, Yu X, Gut P, Ng CP, Huang Y, Haldar S, Verdin E. Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice. Cell Metab. 2017 Sep 5;26(3):547 .57.e8.
    4. "Potential of Diet and Dietary Supplementation to Ameliorate the Chronic Clinical Perturbations of the Metabolic Syndrome,"h with H.G. Preuss in Nutritional and Integrative Strategies in Cardiovascular Medicine edited by Stephen T. Sinatra, Mark C. Houston. (CRC Press, 2015)
    5. Martinez Steele E, Popkin BM, Swinburn B, Monteiro CA. The share of ultra-processed foods and the overall nutritional quality of diets in the US: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Popul Health Metr.2017 Feb 14;15(1):6.
    6. Martinez Steele E, Baraldi LG, Louzada ML, Moubarac JC, Mozaffarian D, Monteiro CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open.2016 Mar 9;6(3):e009892.
    7. Monteiro CA, Moubarac JC, Levy RB, Canella DS, Louzada MLDC, Cannon G. Household availability of ultra-processed foods and obesity in nineteen European countries. Public Health Nutr.2017 Jul 17:1 .9.
    8. Moreira PV, Baraldi LG, Moubarac JC, Monteiro CA, Newton A, Capewell S, OfFlaherty M. Comparing different policy scenarios to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods in UK: impact on cardiovascular disease mortality using a modelling approach. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 13;10(2):e0118353.
    9. Mozaffarian D. Dietary and Policy Priorities for Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity: A Comprehensive Review. Circulation. 2016 Jan 12;133(2):187.225.
    10. http://blog.unikeyhealth.com/dos-and-donts-of-dairy-consumption/
    11. Chang K. Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants. New York Times July 11, 2014.
    12. Bara.ski M, Srednicka-Tober D, Volakakis N, Seal C, Sanderson R, Stewart GB, Benbrook C, Biavati B, Markellou E, Giotis C, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Rembialkowska E, Skwarlo-Sonta K, Tahvonen R, Janovska D, Niggli U, Nicot P, Leifert C. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):794 .811.
    13. Morin R. The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture. The Atlantic October 6, 2014.
    14. Chhabra R, Kolli S, Bauer JH. Organically grown food provides health benefits to Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52988.
    15. Šrednicka-Tober D, Bara.ski M, Seal C, Sanderson R, Benbrook C, Steinshamn H, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Rembialkowska E, Skwarlo-Sonta K, Eyre M, Cozzi G, Krogh Larsen M, Jordon T, Niggli U, Sakowski T, Calder PC, Burdge GC, Sotiraki S, Stefanakis A, Yolcu H, Stergiadis S, Chatzidimitriou E, Butler G, Stewart G, Leifert C. Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 28;115(6):994 .1011.
    16. Šrednicka-Tober D, Baranski M, Seal CJ, Sanderson R, Benbrook C, Steinshamn H, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Rembialkowska E, Skwarlo-Sonta K, Eyre M, Cozzi G, Larsen MK, Jordon T, Niggli U, Sakowski T, Calder PC, Burdge GC, Sotiraki S, Stefanakis A, Stergiadis S, Yolcu H, Chatzidimitriou E, Butler G, Stewart G, Leifert C. Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 28;115(6):1043.60.
    17. 30 Year Old Trial Finds Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional Agriculture. Permaculture Magazine June 10, 2015 with a link to the full study at http://rodaleinstitute.org/assets/FSTbooklet.pdf
    18. The Organic Watergate—White Paper—Cornucopia Institute. May 2012. https://www.cornucopia.org/USDA/OrganicWatergateWhitePaper.pdf
    19. Swiss cheese found to contain powerful probiotic that promotes longevity. Natural News
    20. Sonowal R, Swimm A, Sahoo A, Luo L, Matsunaga Y, Wu Z, Bhingarde JA, Ejzak EA, Ranawade A, Qadota H, Powell DN, Capaldo CT, Flacker JM, Jones RM, Benian GM, Kalman D. Indoles from commensal bacteria extend healthspan. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2017 Sep 5;114(36):E7506 .E7515.
    21. Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier P. Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Aug;51(15):1111 .2.
    22. http://doctoraseem.com/choose-pioppi-diet-statins-beat-heart-disease/
    23. Preuss HG, Mrvichin N, Clouatre D, Bagchi D, Preuss JM, Perricone NV, Swaroop A, Kaats GR. General Lack of Correlations between Age and Signs of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects with Non-diabetic Fasting Glucose Values. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017;6(7):556 .64.
  • You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice?

    This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Reason: Organic food offers superior health benefits

    Some of my previous articles have highlighted health benefits that can be obtained from choosing organic. These range from helping to protect the body from cancer1 to explaining the profound benefits of nurturing healthy soil2 to sharing some of the potentially toxic processes3 and chemicals4 that conventional food can be subjected to.

    In some ways I was reluctant to straight out claim that organic food is more nutritious because this is not always true. There are organic food products on the market that have been highly processed into something that is quite far removed from the crop they started from. Throughout this process valuable nutrients are lost and the end result becomes less nutritious for our bodies.

    It is also worth mentioning that nutrient levels in the soil can vary a lot within both conventional and organic crops depending on how the farmer or grower approaches soil health.

    Additionally, it is important to compare nutrient levels between the same types of crops because nutrient levels vary between types of plants and specific varieties in both conventional and organic growing.

    As I mentioned in an earlier article5 soil health is of the utmost importance in organic farming. This is a crucial factor in successful organic growing because quick fix solutions such as synthetic chemical fertilizers are not allowed to be used. Nurturing the soil creates a healthy soil microbiome, which grows healthy plants, which in turn help people to be healthy.

    Plants need to use their own inbuilt protection mechanisms to ward off pests because these same protection mechanisms are what provide us with antioxidants for our bodies. If plants are routinely being sprayed with synthetic pesticides the plant loses the requirement to use these amazing natural protection mechanisms. Along with that, the antioxidants that have been linked to optimal health in humans are severely depleted.

    There are always going to be studies that show no difference in antioxidant levels between conventional and organic crops. Some studies are repeated over again until beneficial results are found to support whatever corporate giant is funding the study. However there certainly is evidence out there that organically grown crops have higher nutritional content.

    A large study carried out meta-analyses based on 343 peerreviewed publications that indicate statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods. The concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop-based foods.6

    The 'look' of some organic produce can sometimes put people off eating it because it doesn't seem as appealing. In my experience, I have often found that our customers are pleasantly surprised by how wonderful their 'ugly' looking fruit tastes, and there is also evidence to suggest that it could contain superior nutritional qualities.

    Studies have found that apples with 'scabs' on the skin or leaves contained higher antioxidants (phenolic compounds) than scab-free apples and apple leaves.7,8 Similarly, higher concentrations of resveratrol (an antioxidant) have been found in grape leaves following fungal infection or exposure to ultraviolet light.9

    These results all connect back to the plant needing to work hard to fight for its survival. The inbuilt protective mechanisms kick in and these same protection mechanisms are what provide us with antioxidants. To remind you once more, a plant that has been sprayed with synthetic pesticides does not require these mechanisms for protection from pests, and therefore is unlikely to have antioxidants in the same concentrations that a plant which has not been subjected to synthetic pesticides will have.

    With this in mind, give that 'ugly' looking fruit a bit of a chance—you might be pleasantly surprised by the taste and it's highly likely that it's better for you too.

    1. https://www.justorganic.co.nz/why-go-organic-reason-7-help-protect-againstcancer/
    2. https://www.justorganic.co.nz/why-go-organic-reason-2-healthy-soil-healthybody/
    3. https://www.justorganic.co.nz/why-choose-organic-reason-4-irradiation/
    4. https://www.justorganic.co.nz/why-go-organic-reason-1-glyphosate/
    5. https://www.justorganic.co.nz/why-go-organic-reason-2-healthy-soil-healthybody/
    6. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/higher-antioxidant-and-lower-cadmium-concentrations-and-lower-incidenceof-pesticide-residues-in-organically-grown-crops-a-systematic-literature-review-and-meta-analyses/33F09637EAE6C4ED119E0C4BFFE2D5B1/corereader#
    7. http://publik.tuwien.ac.at/files/PubDat_194363.pdf
    8. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10535-011-0176-6#/page-1
    9. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0048405976900771
  • You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Help Protect Against Cancer
    Plant based foods are well known for their vitality-providing properties as a result of being high in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A vitamin and mineral supplement might contain twenty different vitamins and minerals, any of which could be synthetically derived.

    Synthetic or natural, a supplement cannot replicate the life giving properties of foods that are found in nature. A head of broccoli, or a single apple can contain not twenty, but hundreds of nutrients that all have their own magical way of interacting and providing nourishment for our bodies.

    Phytonutrients comprise a large range of important substances that help protect plants from threats such as germs, bugs and fungi, and many have been shown to have a beneficial effect on human health. Some of the more commonly known phytonutrient groups include carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols.

    According to Web MD,1 more than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and tea, again reiterating the point that it is unlikely that we can replicate this complexity and interaction via a supplement pill.

    Salvestrols are a class of phytonutrients that are emerging as having huge potential in the prevention and treatment of cancer. This unique class of phytonutrients in essence works by interacting with an enzyme found in cancer cells and producing a toxin that causes death of that cancer cell, whilst leaving non-cancerous cells unaffected.2

    Numerous studies have linked diet and cancer and this link becomes even more probable just by recognizing that there is a higher incidence of cancer in the developed world as opposed to the underdeveloped world.3

    The WHO has initiatives in place to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity levels with the aim of reducing the incidence of cancer. Layering on this with an added focus on organically grown produce would likely have significant and far reaching benefits.

    Professor Gerry Potter and his Salvestrols research team analyzed thousands of fruit, vegetable and herb samples. Through this, they discovered that Salvestrols were present in very small amounts and often not at all in produce found in the local supermarket while much of the organic produce they tested had Salvestrols in abundance.4

    Modern farming practices have had a huge impact on the life-giving properties of the food we consume. When we understand the links between soil health and the subsequent health of our bodies, we begin to understand the consequences of depletion of tiny but hugely important compounds such as Salvestrols.

    To reiterate, Salvestrols are part of the plants protection mechanism from bugs and other pathogens. If a plant is not subject to pathogens because chemicals (e.g., pesticides) are used to keep those pathogens away, then the plants do not receive a signal to produce Salvestrols,5 thus reducing the nourishment that the plant provides for our bodies. Studies that have found higher antioxidant levels in imperfect produce (e.g. apples with scars)6,7 are likely a result of the plants innate protection mechanisms kicking into place as it works hard to fight back.

    A diet abundant in organically grown fruit and vegetables will help ensure a daily intake of Salvestrols to aid the body in ridding itself of cancer cells as they arise. Those who are already at risk or who are fighting active disease may wish to explore supplementation of their organic diet with Salvestrols.

    Shop for Organic Groceries!

    The information in this article is not intended to replace advice given by your primary care physician.

    References
    1. http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/phytonutrients-faq
    2. Schaefer, Brian A. Linking Diet & Cancer: Salvestrols.Nature's defence against cancer. Clinical Intelligence Corp, 2012. page 36.
    3. http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_cancer.aspx
    4. Schaefer page 39.
    5. Schaefer page 40.
    6. http://publik.tuwien.ac.at/files/PubDat_194363.pdf
    7. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10535-011-0176-6#/page-1
  • You may have heard that "going organic" is a healthy choice for farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Irradiation
    A recent article in Organic NZ magazine highlights another reason to question procedures that are part of conventional food production. Alison White, convenor of the Safe Food Campaign in New Zealand, outlines the potential dangers of food irradiation, a process that herbs, spices, herbal teas, tomatoes, capsicums and a range of tropical fruit that comes into her country are allowed to go through.

    She explains that food, which is irradiated gets exposed to gamma rays, or a high energy electron beam, or x-rays. There are a few reasons for this:

    1. To disrupt the development of any insects that may be concealed within fresh produce.
    2. As an effective and cost-efficient alternative to commonly used toxic insecticides.
    3. To extend shelf life by delaying ripening and to help lower the incidence of foodborne illnesses.

    The above reasons all sound like great ones, but are the potential harmful consequences again being downplayed? The scientific community is still asking questions around nutrient loss, free radical production and changes to antioxidant properties. The Food Irradiation Watch website addresses the reasons that consumers should be concerned—ranging from links to cancer and immune system disorders to reproductive problems and nutritional deficiencies, and it also covers safe alternatives to irradiation.

    Will this be yet another case of "innocent until proven guilty," which happens all too often in the world of conventional farming? DDT, a commonly used pesticide of the past with strong links to the polio virus was removed AFTER the risks were realized, and in today's world we are questioning the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide, Roundup.

    Whether it is proven to be safe or not, consumers should have a right to know whether their food has been irradiated so those who wish to tread with caution, can. There are a few things you can do to avoid irradiated food:
    1. Purchase certified organic food. Organic standards do not allow food irradiation.
    2. Ask your favorite brands whether they have an irradiation free policy. Even if the spices and teas you are using were made in your own country, they could be using imported ingredients that have been irradiated.
    3. New Zealand does not have any irradiation plants so if you live in New Zealand you can buy locally grown fruit and vegetables and know they haven't been irradiated. If you live outside New Zealand, find out if your country has any irradiation plants, and if so, stick with points one and two!
  • Dear Readers,

    Happy Father's Day

    Welcome to the June 2019 issue of TotalHealthOnline Magazine.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, asks “Is Cholesterol The Cause Of Heart Disease?” Statin drugs do lower cholesterol, but it is very clear that they do not save many lives. And, this would seem to answer the question in the title of this article. The main cause is the presence of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by many factors including the following: nutrition, toxins, genetics, exercise, and stress. Read Dr. Ben’s recommendations on what you can do to protect your heart.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), presents “Organic Foods: Are They Really Better?” Bruno explains the difference between non-organic and organic food, the farming, and the food production. The conclusion reached is yes—organic foods are more expensive but when you look at the big picture—if a person can afford the prices—the organic food is healthier for you, your family and the world environment. Thank you Gene for your take on the subject.

    Smart Tips: Estrogen,” by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS. If you are a follower of Dr. Gittleman you know she is a fan of flax seed. She explains the benefits to the body, how to prepare it and how to incorporate flax into your diet. Smart Fats are one of the top strategies for natural hormone therapy. You will not be disappointed with her sharing her expertise with you.

    Sherrill Sellman, ND, reports on skin care in “Yes, You Can Create Youthful Skin at Any Age.” Many skin and personal care products contain many of the 10,500 toxic chemical ingredients that have been known to cause inflammation, free radical damage and aging to the skin. Become an educated consumer and choose only the purest products. It sounds familiar to other articles in this issue. A more youthful appearance is possible for all of us. Nourishing our skin with an organic diet, adequate water intake, plenty of rejuvenating sleep, regular exercise and daily de-stressing strategies are the foundation for healthy skin.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, contributes “Crust-Less Zucchini Spinach Quiche.” In addition Gilbère offers several variations in the recipe as well as several serving suggestions. The article is followed by her new cookbook and video offer free to our readers.

    Shawn Messonnier’s, DVM, topic this month is "Parvovirus in Pets". Commonly it affects young puppies. Certain breeds such as Doberman Pinschers, Rottweiler’s, Pit Bulls, and Labrador Retrievers may be more severely infected than others.

    Thank you to our authors, readers and advertisers. You make TotalHealthOnline possible.

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full June 2019 issue.

    Click here to read the full June 2019 issue.

  • You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Reason: The Critics Lack Understanding
    There is more than one side to every debate, and the world of organics is not exempt. There are those who believe through and through that organics is the way forward for a healthy and sustainable future. On the other end of the continuum, there are critics who strongly believe that organic farming is not the answer for sustainability, and that choosing organic will have little impact on a person's health. Then of course there are those in the middle who aren't strongly pulled either way.

    In a recent debate on social media, I was surprised at how many people were convinced that organics is not sustainable, and that it is even harmful to the environment. After much trawling through comments and eliminating one or two 'bogus' social media profiles, it became evident that many of these organic farming critics have a lack of understanding around what organic means, and the principles behind it.

    Let's address some of the common statements that were made:

    "Only about 30 percent of organic food is actually even organic."
    First of all, I'm not sure where this person derived the number of 30 percent from. However, what they may be referring to is that there are foods which have the word 'organic' in their name, but are not actually certified. This is likely where the notion that 'organic food is not actually organic' has come from. A food producer may genuinely believe their product is organic and that the ingredients in it have been organically grown. Or they may have just used the word because they can (marketing purposes). However, the best way to ensure that what you are eating really is organic, is by choosing products that are certified. If you choose certified organic, you can rest assured that the product has met strict organic criteria and standards.

    "Organic pesticides are worse for the environment."
    This statement shows a lack of understanding of organic principles. Organic systems use principles such as manure to feed the soil, crop rotation, ecology and biodiversity, and companion planting to grow strong, healthy crops. Organic farmers understand these principles and follow them so that there is little need for pesticides. Many organic farmers will choose to remove weeds manually rather than apply a natural pesticide. Yes, there are pesticides that are allowed to be used in organic farming but they are naturally derived and are biodegradable. If they are used, the focus is on control, rather than annihilation of pests because organic farmers understand the importance of a fully functioning eco system.

    This statement prompted me into an email discussion with Philippa Jamieson, editor of Organic NZ. Philippa explains,"Organic growers are allowed under certification rules to use a certain quantity of copper sprays in orchards for fungal disease, but it's limited. Copper is a heavy metal and can build up in the soil. Apart from that I haven't heard of any organic pesticide that anyone in the organic sector (or outside of it) has expressed any concern about whatsoever!"

    "The organic system is un-regulated."
    I suspect that the worry here is similar to the concern behind the first statement ("Only about 30 percent of organic food is actually even organic"). The problem here may be more related to the consumers' perception that something is organic, by the way it is marketed. Remember to choose certified organic so you can rest assured that the product you are choosing has been regulated.

    I am far more concerned about the regulation of nonorganic pesticides because so many harmful pesticides have been regulated for use (e.g. pesticides which contain the active ingredient Glyphosate).

    "Organic farming is not sustainable."
    The argument here is that yields from organic farming are lower so we need more land to get the same amount and balance of food and would have to destroy forest to do so. To respond to the critics on this one: We could go organic if we all ate less meat and more vegetables, pulses and grains as it takes far less land to produce these foods than it does for meat. A surplus of food and environmental problems exist with the traditional system.

    Additionally, studies are now noting comparable yields in organic farming—the gap is closing.1,2

    The following articles provide further information and links to resources that highlight organics as part of the solution for a healthy and sustainable future.3,4

    1. https://www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/05-23-2013/soilbuilding-benefits-organic-practices
    2. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/full/nature11069.html
    3. https://www.organic-center.org/news/response-to-organicfarming-is-not-sustainable/
    4. http://www.wellnesswarrior.org/despite_what_the_food_industry_wants_you_to_believe
  • 1. Eat only whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, chicken, fish and whole grains (not wheat). Eat organic if you can, no junk food, no fried food, no cow dairy products and nothing with sugar added.

    2. Eat three small meals and two healthy snacks each day. Eat no starches, breads or sugar after 3:00 PM and eat enough calories to equal ten times your body weight to maintain your current weight. Use herbs and spices liberally and eat 50 percent of your plant foods raw.

    3. If you want to lose weight never cut your calories by more than 10 percent of the amount suggested in item #2 above. Your metabolism will slow down and cause you to gain weight if you try to cut your calories by more than 10 percent.

    4. Drink a green powdered drink every day. Use vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and rice milk, coconut milk, or almond milk to make a shake and then add a scoop of green powder and a scoop of protein powder. This drink will provide over ten helpings of vegetables and fruits.

    5. Take the following nutritional supplements every day.

    Consider www.allstarhealth.com and order the brand Source Naturals. High quality/low price.

    6. Exercise 45 to 60 minutes every day, enough to sweat and raise your heart rate by 50 percent above normal. Do aerobics, resistance and flexibility type exercises. Consult with your doctor before beginning your program so he/she can help you take into account your age, weight and medical condition.

    7. Practice yoga, meditation or deep breathing for at least 30 minutes each day. These are proven ways to reduce and manage stress.

    8. Go to bed at least one hour before midnight and sleep seven to nine hours depending on your need, to awaken refreshed and energized. When you sleep your body detoxifies, rebuilds and balances your biochemistry.

    9. Get the right tests to ensure your body is within healthy ranges for bio-markers. Use the following tests beyond the normal ones, if you can afford them.

    • Vitamin D levels
    • Homocysteine
    • Serotonin levels -
    • Dopamine levels
    • Thermography (for breast health)
    • Glucose challenge test
    • C-reactive protein

    10.As you age (40+) you may need to add digestive enzymes, probiotics, co-enzyme Q10 and other nutrients, which diminish with age.

  • You may have heard that ‘going organic’ is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it’s such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.

    Reason 1: Glyphosate
    You may be aware that organic food and products are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or chemicals. Advocates of conventional farming (the type that does allow use of these artificial substances) argue that recommended levels of these chemicals are not exceeded.

    This statement may be true for one chemical in one product but it does not consider the sheer number of potentially toxic chemicals that we are subjected to in modern society—in our food, our water, in the materials we use to make products and clothing, and in the air we breathe.

    A chemical may be tested and found to be safe at a certain level, but it is unlikely that the full cocktail of chemicals contained in a product have been tested. Molecular biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini has demonstrated that the full formulations of pesticides are much stronger than the declared active ingredient. Additionally, the ‘active’ ingredient may not be the most toxic ingredient in pesticide formulations.1

    Coupled with these issues, there is little consideration for variations in sensitivity between individuals, nor for the consequences of being exposed to so many different chemicals over the course of a day, or a lifetime.

    Glyphosate is a chemical under hot discussion in the farming world. Being on the market in the form of the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide Roundup, virtually all conventional produce and food products contain traces of this chemical. As with all subjects of debate, there are many studies that claim Roundup herbicide poses no risk to humans.2

    However, in March 2015 the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.3,4,5

    Advocates for organic farming believe it is wise to err on the side of caution—who wants to risk a build-up of toxic residue that could lead to serious health problems? It is much safer to ban ‘questionable’ chemical ingredients and to find a proven safe alternative than to live by the mantra of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

    The links between glyphosate and a wide range of health concerns and conditions are becoming increasingly evident. Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has found strong links between glyphosate use, and the rise in celiac disease. She explains that the villi in the gut are destroyed by glyphosate, which reduces the person’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals and can result in gut problems.6

    Glyphosate has been highlighted as a potential endocrine disruptor7 and has shown a strong correlation with the increased incidence of many diseases, from cancer to dementia, to autism.8,9,10 The World Health organization lists the adverse health effects caused by glyphosate as airway, skin, and mucous membrane irritation, abdominal, pain, nausea, vomiting, shock, dyspnea, respiratory failure.11

    For consumers who are not convinced about the safety of food production methods using synthetic chemicals such as glyphosate, the only ways to currently drastically reduce exposure are by choosing certified organic produce and products, growing your own, or by getting food from a local farmer who you know is not using these chemicals.12,13,14

    For those who are not sure how to start shifting from a conventional to an organic diet, or who have concerns around personal budgeting restraints, a good place to start making changes is by focusing on the ‘dirty dozen’— a list of the twelve foods in New Zealand that have been identified as having the highest pesticide residues.

    Reason 2: Healthy soil, healthy body
    Many people are now choosing organic as one way to help optimize their health and wellbeing. The vitamin and mineral content of fresh produce and other foods will vary based on how the soil is cared for, the environment they are grown in, and how they are processed, among other things.

    In organic farming, caring for the soil is of the utmost importance, because it forms the basis for health, for all life forms. As Sophie Grigson and William Black explain, “Healthy soil encourages healthy plants, plants which are strong and disease resistant, which means there is less need for artificial pesticides in organic production.” Their book “Organic—a new way of eating” highlights the fact that if we feed the soil, the plants will look after themselves.15

    Sally Fallon reiterates this in her book “Nourishing Traditions,” when she explains that nitrogen fertilizers used in conventional (non-organic) farming produce high yields, in part by pulling minerals from the soil. In turn, the food suffers because the vitamin and mineral contents are depleted. She explains that vitamin and mineral content between conventional and organic crops can vary hugely, and that some commercially raised oranges have been found to contain NO vitamin C!16

    The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ really does ring true. If you are consuming food that was once a sickly animal who was fed routine courses of antibiotics and a genetically engineered diet of pesticide sprayed grains that it is unable to digest, how healthy do you think you will be?

    If you are eating food that has been sprayed copious times with a herbicide that has been engineered to kill EVERYTHING around it, except that particular crop, how do you think this affects the health of the soil, and the subsequent health of your body? Similarly, with the skin being the largest organ in the body, and readily absorbing anything you rub on it, have you considered what is entering your system via this method (by way of creams and lotions)?

    Yes, our bodies are amazing, and yes they can process and eliminate a certain degree of ‘rubbish.’ But, when they become overloaded they are unable to summon the resources required to neutralize the onslaught of poisons entering them. Therefore it makes sense to limit our intake of toxins wherever we are able to do so; for example by making organic choices.

    Organic farming helps ensure you are receiving the best quality for your body, allowing your cells to be as healthy and strong as possible. Growth hormones, protein rich feeds and the routine use of antibiotics are not allowed, nor are synthetic chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides or pesticides.

    If you consider health as a holistic word encompassing people, animals, and the planet, then choosing organic is a positive step in this direction.

    Endnotes:

    1. “Food Matters – Life matters!” article. Organic NZ magazine. May/June 2015.
    2. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/10408444.2013.770820.
    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glyphosate.
    4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Agency_for_Research_on_Cancer#IARC_categories.
    5. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/widely-used-herbicide-linked-to-cancer/.
    6. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/14/glyphosate-celiacdisease-connection.aspx.
    7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257596/.
    8. http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/92/JOS_Volume-9_Number-2_Nov_2014-Swanson-et-al.pdf.
    9. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/monsantos-roundup-enough-make-yousick.
    10. https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/monsantos-sealed-documentsreveal-truth-behind-roundups-toxicological-dangers.
    11. http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/3/07-041814-table-T1.html.
    12. https://www.organicnz.org.nz/node/120.
    13. Organic – a new way of eating.” Sophie Grigson and William Black. Headline Book Publishing 2001.
    14. Nourishing Traditions." The Cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Revised second edition. Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig. Ph.D. 1999, 2001 New trends Publishing Inc.
    15. http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/policy-law/food-monitoring-programmes/foodact-1981/frsp/documents.htm.
    16. http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/2003_04-Analyses_Environmental.pdf
  • You may have heard that "going organic" is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic. Reason: It checks a lot of boxes

    Many of the attributes that consumers are looking for in their food, beverages, household items and beauty products are covered under the banner of certified organic products.

    The 2016 New Zealand Organic Market report highlighted some of the main factors consumers are looking for when it comes to their purchases. One of the factors that rated highly was for GM/GE free food. Consumers may or may not be aware that purchasing certified organic products instantly assures the product does not contain any genetically modified ingredients. So by purchasing organic it's an easy way to ensure you're avoiding genetically engineered food.

    The report highlighted another important factor for consumers is that their food is 100 percent natural. By choosing organic you can be assured what you're purchasing is 100 percent natural. However, it must be noted that the two words are not interchangeable, as some might believe! For example, a conventional apple or orange is "100 percent natural" but this doesn"t mean it has not been sprayed with copious layers of synthetic chemicals. So purchasing "natural" products does not necessarily mean you are purchasing organic, but purchasing organic does mean you are purchasing natural. Most consumers are aware purchasing certified organic products means they will be avoiding synthetic chemicals but they do not necessarily make the connection that their "natural" product could have been involved in a lot of chemical treatments.

    Lesser known is the fact that irradiated products or ingredients are not permitted. Non organic food items such as herbs and spices, herbal teas and tropical fruits may be subjected to irradiation in order to stop the development of insects concealed within produce and to lengthen shelf life. The foods are put through powerful gamma rays or x-rays, a practice which is raising concerns in the scientific community about nutrient loss, free radical production, and links to diseases. Consumers can rest assured that any certified organic foods they purchase will not have been irradiated.

    Sustainability is a core, fundamental concept at the heart of the organic movement so it can be a good choice for those who are intent on looking after the environment and improving it for future generations. Organic farms vary in their efforts to improve animal welfare and employ principles of permaculture—just as conventional farms do. For this reason consumers may choose to investigate the origin of their food and products further. Positive choices do not need to be complicated however; and the certified organic label helps to make purchasing easier by checking a number of the boxes that consumers are looking for.

    Note: This article was written with relevance to New Zealand Certified Organic Standards. Standards in other countries may vary slightly.

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