Part of a healthy lifestyle includes eating fresh, high-quality, minimally processed
foods. The difference can be significant in the quality of your life and the onset of chronic degenerative diseases and even cancer.
ORGANIC vs. CONVENTIONAL
I know there are some skeptics out there that may not believe that organic foods have an influence in ones health or that question whether organic foods are truly “organic”, so please read further.
Organic foods are foods that are grown without the use of genetic engineering or man-made fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, irradiation, sewage sludge, hormones, antibiotics, steroids, preservatives, flavor enhancers or emulsifiers. In order to be certified organic, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic farms are strictly prohibited from using these technologies and chemicals. In general, organic farms must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources ( rivers, lakes, soil and air), as part of their operations.
Foods that do not meet the USDAs strict requirements for the USDA organic labeling, however do meet the standard requirements for food production are referred to as conventional foods. The technology and chemicals prohibited on organic farms are legal on conventional farms. These technologies are intended to make production of foods more cost effective, higher yields per acre and less expensive. This is the primary reason why conventional foods are less expensive than organic foods.
The old adage “ you get what you pay for”, could never be more true!
Conventionally farmed foods are cheaper in the short term, however the cost to your health cannot be measured. Conventionally-farmed foods may also have lower concentrations of essential nutrients required by your body.
A great deal of research has been published with respect to the effects that conventionally farmed foods have on healthy body function. Pesticides and insecticides are often referred to as endocrine disrupters. That means they disrupt normal hormone function. These chemicals may often effect the nervous system or contribute to cancers. The recent legislation action taken in Washington D.C. requiring the makers of the insecticide Round-Up to label the chemical component glycophosphate as a possible carcinogen clearly speaks to the dangers of these chemicals within our food supply.
WHAT ABOUT “ALL NATURAL” FOODS
Foods and food products labeled as “all natural” contain no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or other additives. The ingredients in “all natural” foods may be conventionally or organically farmed. Keep in mind however, if it is organic, the producer would clearly mark it as such.
WHAT ARE GMOs ?
In the context of food, a GMO is a plant or animal whose genetic makeup has been modified by gene splicing, modification or engineering. Plants have historically been engineered to select for desirable traits such as size, growth speed,sweetness, weather resistance bug resistance, color and so on. Most of the GMOs grown today have been engineered to resist herbicides, which are chemicals used to kill weeds. The result of genetic modification and the heavy use of pesticides like herbicide have created herbicide-resistant “super-weeds” and “super-bugs”, which can be only killed with more toxic poisons.
GMO crops require fewer chemicals and less time, machinery and land than organic crops, however, changing the DNA of an organism could have side effects that are impossible to control or predict. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional cross breeding methods. GMOs also pose a significant allergy risk. By splicing unstable combinations of genes, we could create new allergens in foods that haven’t caused allergies in populations before. A good example of this is the genetically modified wheat seed that contributes to celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the U.S. and is virtually non-existent in Europe where the wheat seed is not genetically modified.
The bottom line is that there is not yet enough evidence to know what effects GMOs will have on us, or on the Earth. Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be considered safe and have banned or restricted the production or sale of GMOs in their food supplies. However, the U.S. and Canadian governments have approved GMOs based upon scientific studies, which have been funded by the corporations that create GMOs and profit from their sales.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
At Total Body Wellness Life Enhancement Center, my staff and I assist our patients in understanding food labeling as well as the significance that a healthy diet can make in disease prevention.
Just as each patient is unique, the expression of the individual genotype (gene pool), is unique as a dietary influence. In other words, your genes do not determine your life outcome. Rather, your lifestyle influences the genes functions or expression. So you can see now that nutrition, the foods you supply your body with, is much like the soil, water and sunlight necessary for healthy plant grow.
Nutrition is a cornerstone of a functional medicine practice.
Fad diets, are just what they imply, a fad. Even well researched diets such as the Keto, Mediterranean or Paleo diets may be suggested for one subset of individuals however provide little benefit for another subset of individuals.
A certified functional medicine physician is educated and trained to consult with individuals, run functional laboratory testing and create individualized program’s of care and lifestyle recommendations to optimize your health and genetic expression.