As in generations past, many diets promote skipping basic nutritional requirements while opting for fasting or binge eating that may harm the body. These are the rapid weight loss plans that are read daily in advertisements. The best way to develop a long term diet plan is to make changes in eating habits that are acceptable in meeting daily nutritional requirements. The organic diet plan does not sacrifice items suggested in the six food groups. The current generation is suggesting that people adapt to eating high amounts of organic foods to maintain physical health. This avoids the harmful effects of eating processed foods which are those that are prepackaged and boxed, and contain harmful ingredients to prolong shelf life.
What Does Organic Mean?
Organic food continues to be difficult to find in local Shopping Marts, and a short time ago they were only found in health food stores. As the demand increases, supplies of organic foods have increased which has in turn created psychological confusion for shoppers. This uncertainty is evident as we watch people shop in the fruit and vegetable aisle. On one side of the store, there is a modern day apple. On the other side, there is one labeled organic. Both apples are red, polished, and hard. Both contain fiber and vitamins, both are free of cholesterol, fat, and sodium. How does one determine which one to buy? Most tend to go for the present day grown foods because they cost less. However, the question remains: Is organic food safer or more nutritious?
The term organic when it refers to food production is the method that farmers follow to grow their products, and how they manufacture their products, such as meat, vegetables, fruit, grains, and dairy products. Organic fruits, vegetables’ and grains are grown in nutrient rich soil, and must be kept separate from the conventional products. Farmers do not use pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, sewage fertilizers, and involve minimal amounts of bioengineered genes (GMOs).
Organic farming techniques encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. They use nature’s fertilizers, such as compost or manure, to feed soil and plants. These farmers rotate crops, till the soil, hand weed and apply mulch to control weeds. To reduce pests and disease they use insects, birds, mating or traps. To farm in an organic fashion follows the belief that there is no need for chemicals to control pests, they do not inject their animals with any growth hormones, and do not use man made manufactured fertilizers.
Organic foods contain large amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants which allow the foods to keep that fresh and juicy taste. Chefs from all over the world have started to use only organic ingredients which allow us to recognize the improved taste. However, taste preferences are difficult to assess, quantify and measure.
The United States requires these foods to have at least 95 percent organic ingredients to obtain the department of agricultures organic seal. Foods made entirely of organically produced ingredients can display a 100 percent label and will also have the organic seal.
Why choose to follow the Organic Diet?
1. Nutritional Benefits
The type of soil that organic foods are grown in produces 50% more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than the present day methods. Organic foods have higher levels of various disease-fighting antioxidants and essential vitamins, including vitamin C. Following an organic diet will help avoid Genetically Modified Organisms. GMOs are products of the genetic engineering of plants which are altered to increase their resistance to diseases, but may be harmful to our health. (For more information read the article, What Is In My Food) When people are focused on a whole food organic diet, they are free from wondering how the food was grown and processed.
Conventional meats often have growth hormones, which in turn can cause people to gain weight. Organic, poultry, beef, eggs and fish provide the body with nourishing amino acids that are required to enhance lean muscle mass, contain no growth hormones or antibiotics. Conventional vegetables are grown with pesticides and retain water, however, eating organic produce will help eliminate edema or “water weight”. Organic carbohydrates, meaning the fruits and grains, will increase cardiac energy as the liver processes these carbohydrates quickly to provide lasting endurance. The organic process increases energy levels and will help people with their ability to exercise. Organic vegetables are loaded with antioxidants eliminating the disease producing free radicals as they assist in removing them from the body. In conclusion, our body is able to metabolize, and utilize the nutritional content from organic foods much easier than in processed foods.
2. Reduction of Allergies
The chemicals used with the present farming methods are related to many known allergies and have also been linked to some serious diseases, to name a few, Cancer and Alzheimer’s. The pesticides and fertilizers used in growing traditional crops include both synthetic and toxic chemicals which stay in the food after they are grown. The organic crops significantly lower the risks of ingesting these chemicals.
3. Weight Loss
A new trend is developing that promotes the idea of following an organic diet as physical health, fitness and weight, is determined by the foods that people consume. Following an organic diet is at this time a popular weight loss program. There is no need for fasting methods or weight loss pills to suppress appetite or speed up the metabolism. However, concerns are being raised about the feasibility or practicality of following this concept. There is no current research for using this method for weight loss but following a diet that is based on fruits and vegetables’ is beneficial for promoting a healthy lifestyle.
It is clear that following an organic diet based on fruits and vegetables is beneficial for weight loss, maintaining overall health, and improving fitness levels; However, the results of following this program may take time to manifest. It is suggested that people include other established measures, such as an exercise program to assist with weight loss.
4. A Healthier Planet
Organic food farming is safer and nurtures the land, and preserves the entire environment. The procedures used in organic farm production protect the structure and nutrient content of the soil, and maintains the soils health over time. In the long run, a healthier environment leads to the ability to maintain a physically healthier body. Choosing an organic diet has a cyclical effect, meaning a healthier food environment creates a physically healthier human being and choosing to eat organic foods promotes soil health.
Organic farming is in the infancy stages and farmers have pioneered organic food research, conducted the studies and shouldered the expenses. A few universities have enlisted organic research teams to assist in the advancement of this agriculture. Buying organic products will help support this cause to fund their quest to develop and improve innovations to protect the environment.
Why Buy Organic Foods?
Organic produce carries significantly fewer chemical and pesticides residues and buying organic products limits this exposure. Some buy organic products to decrease the consumption of food additives. As organic food regulations forbid or severely restrict the use of processing aids, food additives, and fortifying agents commonly used in nonorganic foods. This practice includes the exclusion of artificial sweeteners, colorings and flavorings, preservatives, and monosodium glutamate. Others buy organic food because of concerns over the environment. These types of farming practices reduce pollution, improve soil quality and conserve water. Some simply choose organic produce because they prefer how the foods taste.
A Few Safe Food Practice Tips
- Thoroughly Wash Vegetables and Fruits. Washing with water helps to take away the traces of pesticides and chemicals, and removes the bacteria and dirt from the surface of fruits and vegetables. Some chemical pesticides residue may not be removed even by washing therefore people can peel fruits and vegetables, especially if grown under conventional methods.
- Buy Fruits and Vegetables in Season. Buy produce at the local farmers market and ask the people at the supermarket when they receive fresh shipments.
- Grow an Organic Garden and Create your own Compose. You will have no doubt of food quality or safety.
- Carefully Understand and Read Food Labels. If a product says it is organic, it does not necessarily mean it is a healthier alternative. Organic products can be high in calories, fat and sugar content.
- Choose Many Different Types of Foods from Many Different Sources. This activity reduces the chances of exposure to one pesticide, and allows people to receive a better combination of nutrients.
Making a commitment to changing food habits is a start towards physically improving health. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good fats, there are the ethical questions related to food safety, nutrition, and land sustainability. I believe we should consider how foods are grown or raised, when we think about making healthier food choices. There are many benefits to organic foods that cannot be matched by eating a conventional diet. Eating organic foods is a rational, logical choice which considers the benefits of the physical body and the health of our land. It is a decision that helps save the planet along with promoting physical health. This is a diet well worth investigating and implementing in our lifestyle.
Live Healthy and Well,
Dr. Cheryl MacDonald, RN., Psy’D.
Health Psychology of San Diego
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