Organic Week begins Monday 8th September celebrating all things organic. In this month's blog, I decided to take a deeper look at why organic living is actually good for us.
There is a lot of conflicting information about whether going organic has any health benefits. Some argue that organic food is no different to regular food because the nutritional levels are very similar. But one of the main benefits is actually the health benefits from a reduction in the levels of exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides (OPs) used in non organic food and personal care products.
Historically it was thought that pesticides were relatively safe at common levels of exposure. However, evidence shows that exposure to even very low levels of OPs can have important adverse health effects. Pesticides are toxic to living beings, including humans. At the molecular level, pesticides affect cellular function which in turn could cause problems in organs in the body. This is why pesticides have been linked with a wide variety of chronic diseases such as certain types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, auto immune diseases, chronic fatigue and reproductive and birth defects. (1)
A key area of recent research has been the link between OPs and brain development of children. Developing brains are more vulnerable to the effects of OPs as they are less able to detoxify. (2) Researchers have found OP exposure at common levels to be associated with ADHD. (3) Exposure during pregnancy can lead to poorer intellectual development. (4) So it is vitally important to go organic during pregnancy as well as to feed children organic food if you possibly can.
Going organic quickly brings benefits
The good news is that the body is able to quickly detoxify OPs once they are removed from the diet. Following a low OP organic diet for 5 days reduced OP levels in Children 3-11 years to non detectable levels. (5) In adults it reduced markers of OP exposure by 90%. (6) So eating as much organic food and using organic personal care products wherever possible will bring benefits to your health straight away.
Brown, B. Organophosphate detoxification: new evidence for organic diet. CAM Magazine July 2014. 1) Mostafalou S, Abdollahi M. Pesticides and human chronic diseases: evidences, mechanisms and perspectives. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2013, 268(2): 157-77 2) Weiss B. Vulnerability of children and the developing brain to neurotoxic hazards. Environ Health Perspect 2000, 108 (Suppl 3):375-81 3) Bouchard MF et al. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics 2010 125(6):e1270-7 4) Bouchard MF et al. Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and IQ in 7-year-old children. Environ Health Perspect 2011, 119(8):1189-95 5) Lu C et al. Dietary intake and its contribution to longitudinal organophosphate pesticide exposure in urban/suburban children. Environ Health Perspect 2008, 116:537-42 6) Oates L et al. Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolites in adults after a week long organic diet. Environ Res 2014, 132C:105-111