Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC is a clinician, Naturopathic Practitioner, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at conferences around the globe.
What’s healthier for you, and more importantly, what’s healthier for your child?
Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: This is a topic that’s been somewhat controversial and somewhat fervently debated. And there was a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics that did a good job of outlining some key points in organic versus commercial farming.
They talked about the difference in pesticide exposure, the difference in quality of dairy, the difference in the environmental impact, and the difference in nutrient composition. So, here are a list of the key points reviewed in this article published in the Journal of Pediatrics.
DrMR: Regarding pesticides, the conclusion of this study was organic is proven to reduce exposure to pesticides. Blood levels of pesticides in children will decrease quickly and dramatically on an organic diet.
However, there are not yet many studies linking organic dieting to improved health outcomes. I just want to clarify there. Just because the studies haven’t been done doesn’t mean that there’s not going to be the finding of a favorable health outcome. So, in my opinion, certainly an organic diet would be an intelligent way to go, especially when we consider the fact that blood levels of pesticides that we know have some pretty detrimental effects decrease when going on an organic diet.
Now, to the second area of concern was environmental impact and yield. Oftentimes, the question is asked, can we feed the world on organic food. Critics will say we can’t, supporters will say we can. This study found that while there is mixed data around this question, the best study to date shows organic provides a comparable yield to conventional, and organic farming is better for the environment.
Now, on to the next point. Cows, dairy, growth hormone, and steroids. Many times in conventional farming, cows are injected with steroids that will make them grow faster, and also injected with something called recombinant bovine growth hormone that increases the yield of the dairy output of the cow.
Now, this study found that the growth hormone did not seem to produce a negative effect. Even though there are some that highly criticize it, this study did not find a negative effect with the growth hormone use. And the steroid use, estrogen specifically, did not produce negative effects, although they may pose a health threat because there are some questions about estrogens that have not yet been answered.
“Blood levels of pesticides in children will decrease quickly and dramatically on an organic diet.”
Growth hormone will get broken down in the stomach, and will not be able to have much of a physiological impact on people, but estrogens do not get broken down in the stomach, and therefore may be able to have a negative impact on people. But we haven’t done any studies yet to really substantiate that one way or the other.
But regarding dairy, other toxins in the environment, things like BPA, may be responsible for the increased estrogen exposure sometimes blamed on dairy. So, this study found that dairy did not seem to be potentially as dangerous as we’ve potentially previously thought, although I would still recommend opting for organic cows because they will be treated in a little bit healthier of a manner. But to be fair, the data is showing that it may not be as big of a deal as we’ve previously thought.
And on to the next point, nutrients. Again, there’s mixed data regarding the nutrient profile of organic versus commercial. And also, it’s very hard to perform the studies because multiple factors can cause differences in the nutrient content of food, so there’s a natural variability in the nutrient content of food. So, when you’re trying to say one is better than the other, and there’s this natural variation always occurring, it’s very hard to compare one to the other. Although, that being said, vitamin C, phosphorous and some antioxidants appear to be in higher levels with organic food.
So, that’s a summary of the key points. Organic versus commercial, it’s a pretty hot topic and people on both sides of the fence have pretty strong views about one or the other. Here we see some information that supports organic, some information that shows you may be able to get away with some things conventionally.
At the end of the day, my recommendation would be to opt for organic whenever possible, and especially in children, because we do know that blood levels of pesticides will dramatically and rapidly decrease when children go on an organic diet, and because the potential developmental effects these pesticides can have, they are likely best avoided. So, this is Dr. Ruscio. I hope you find this information helpful. Thanks.
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