Just One Week Of Eating Organic Lowers Toxin Levels, Study Finds
If you're new to the world of health and wellness, some of the very first advice you often hear is to eat organic. But with prices that can be sky-high and pesticides covering virtually every part of conventional produce, eating organic can be easier said than done.
Researchers out of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco, however, just came to a breakthrough conclusion that should be reason enough to kiss conventional fruit and veggies goodbye: After less than one week of eating organic, toxin levels in the body were dramatically lowered.
In the study1, four families from different backgrounds ate a conventional diet for six days, then an organic diet for another six. By testing their urine before and after going all-out organic, researchers found huge drops in bodily pesticides. These pesticides have been connected with a ton of problems: cancer, hormonal imbalance, and neurological disorders, just to name a few.
The most stunning stat from their research was a 95 percent drop in a toxin called malathion, which is linked to brain damage in children2.
"Right now, farming with toxic pesticides is the norm. But we can turn the system around. The science is clear that we can grow abundant food without pesticides," Dr. Kendra Klein, co-author of the study and senior staff scientist at organic research organization Friends of the Earth, told mbg.
"We need to organize, raise our voices, demand that our leaders step up and shift support, research, and policies to create a system where organic is for all."
Klein and her colleagues focused primarily on exposure, not health outcomes, when it comes to eating organic. Studies that focus on health outcomes often take a lot of time and resources, but there have been a couple of recent breakthroughs: A recent study out of France found a 25 percent reduction in cancer levels3 after including more organic foods in the diet, and another study linked organic food with improved fertility rates4.
Besides reductions in dangerous toxins within the body, going organic can boost the health of the planet. Organic farming is less pollutive of water, supportive of biodiversity, preserves quality of soil, and is generally more sustainable in the long run.
"Organic works. We already have the solution. And yet, many people across the country still don't have access to or can't afford organic food. This is unacceptable. We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides," Klein added.
Some of her favorite tips for eating organic on a budget include reducing meat consumption—meat is often the most expensive part of a meal—buying frozen produce, purveying your local farmers markets, and buying in season.
If you're keen on easing into the organic life, you can start with the Environmental Working Group's list of the dirty dozen and clean 15 to guide your shopping. And if modifying your food isn't enough for you, you can even go organic when it comes to your skin care or natural beauty. For the sake of your stomach, skin, and the planet, going organic may be the right choice.
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development. She has also written for SFGate.com and The Stanford Daily and runs a paleo(ish) food Instagram, @healthy_lizard.