You are what you eat.
Simple, isn’t it?
Case closed! Mic drop! …but it is also more complex than that.
Eating seasonal, organic plant foods brings us back closer to our nature and the food that our ancestors ate. It provides us with essential enzymes, phytonutrients (or, plant nutrients), antioxidants, antiinflammatories and polyphenols in higher quantities than non-organic foods. These plant nutrients are essential to good health, and healthy ageing. They reduce risk of disease and help our children grow healthy, and strong with robust immune systems.
How our food has changed.
What our great-grandparents called food and what we think of as food are two different things. The food they bought or grew didn’t travel far, was seasonal, didn’t come in a package and they cooked it all, themselves. It wasn’t sprayed, coated and stickered or wrapped in BPA infusing plastics. Today, we have supermarkets and fast food shops filled with ‘food’ that includes ingredients we can’t pronounce, let alone understand. More concerning are the things that aren’t labelled, the artificial pesticides and fertilizers used to ensure greater crop yields, longer shelf / transport life and more attractive presentation, in and on our fruits, vegetables, and animal products.
In the last 60 years the number of agricultural chemicals has increased dramatically, and with it the number of toxin-related diseases. There are numerous studies linking health risks and exposure/consumption of toxicant chemicals. Surprisingly, very few of these chemicals are tested on humans. Pharmaceutical chemicals must undergo rigorous testing in large scale human trials before a product is registered. Pesticides however, are predominantly tested via computer modelling and animal testing, with human testing considered unethical.
So what is ‘organic’ anyway? Isn’t all food organic?
Yeah, kind of. In chemistry, organic is anything that contains carbon and hydrogen. Organic can also mean relating to, or obtained from living things. But for this conversation…
The Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produces defines organic as “the application of practices that emphasise: the use of renewable resources: the conservation of energy, soil and water: recognition of livestock welfare needs; and envirnomnental maintenance and enhancement; while producing optimum quantities of produce without the use of artificial fertiliser or synthetic chemicals.”
Why is eating with the seasons important?
We have diurnal (circadian) rhythms, and it’s suspected that we also have seasonal rhythms, too. Unadulterated foods have enzymes in, and on them, that are chemical messengers for our bodies that help regulate functions such as sleep, hormones and energy … and maybe more. The science is still researching this topic and no doubt we’ll hear more about it’s importance.
So the good news…
Eating organic reduces the risk of obesity, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, eczema in infants, to name a few. Fruits and vegetables grown organically, have increased levels of beneficial antioxidant phytochemicals (or, ‘plant chemicals’) such as; flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins, due to the reduced levels of pesticides. Organic fruits and vegetables consistently demonstrate greater antioxidant capacity. Higher levels of beneficial fungi in the soil of organic farms improve communication between plants and improve plant nutrition and health increasing levels of phytochemicals. Studies consistently show that diets rich in plant polyphenols reduce risk of cancers, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, asthma, infections, and reduce the effects ageing.
What are we avoiding when we eat organic?
Our diet and lifestyle interact with our microbiome and directly affect our gene expression (some genes are fixed, e.g. eye colour - some are variable, and turning on is called ‘expression’ e.g. in autoimmune conditions). These genes determine how we make enzymes that are necessary for cellular processes, like how our immune system functions, how our energy is produced and how we make hormones.
Pesticides (which includes fungicides, insecticides and herbicides) suppress or alter the life cycle of a ‘pest’, but they can dramatically alter our microbiome as well. Many pesticides are considered to be antibiotics, and actively disrupt our microbiome species make up and diversity - the two most important factors in a healthy gut microbiome.
The cells that line the digestive system are joined together with ‘tight junction’ cells. This system prevents large particles like proteins to cross into circulation, where the immune system is like border control. As children the tight junctions aren’t so tight and it helps build that immune tolerance. As we age these junctions become tight, however pesticides, microbiome dysbiosis, IBS, and other illnesses can create intestinal hyperpermeability (aka ‘leaky gut) where gaps allow large particles into circulation. The immune system responds by detecting an ‘intruder’ and this can create food allergies and intolerances.
The main constituent of Roundup®, a chemical called glyphosate was initially patented as an antibiotic, and then later as a metal chelator (i.e. bonds to metals for removal). So, foods that are treated with glyphosate are not only covered in an antibiotic, but absorb it into the structure of the food itself - so, you can’t even wash it off, it’s actually ‘in’ the food. Then, to make matters worse it bonds to essential minerals preventing us from absorbing them, such as zinc, magnesium, copper, selenium, manganese etc. required for numerous metabolic processes. Glyphosate creates intestinal hyperpermeability and is implicated in a number of diseases, not least of which are gluten intolerance, celiac disease, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, infertility, anemia and a string of other conditions.6
Why I contributed this…
I’ve been buying Organic Angels since (almost) the start, and the amazing freshness and quality of the produce has been impressive from the start. Even when I was a poor student I continued my subscription because the more I learned about good health, the more I understood that eating well was my foundation. The cost of being unhealthy, was far greater than the little extra I was spending on really beautiful produce. It took a while to learn to meal plan around what was in the box, rather than continually adjusting to ‘get what I wanted’ - but, the joy I get from opening the box and seeing what I have to work with is immense. I wrote this article as a thank you, and to share what I’ve learned, and give you the opportunity to continue looking after you and a fabulous little family busines… oh, and the environment!
Julie Forrester - BHSc Naturopathy
Or via Telehealth - email me firstname.lastname@example.org