Is Going Organic the Best Choice for Your Healing Journey?
Since the early 2000s, the term “organic” has become something of a buzzword in the health and wellness world — but much debate and conflicting information surrounds this topic. What does the label really mean, and are there truly health benefits to going organic or is it just another passing trend? Find out our official stance below.
The Difference Between Organic and Non-Organic Options
The first step to understanding whether going organic is the right choice for your healing journey is to understand what the term truly communicates. A certification given by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “organic” is a label that indicates how a product has been grown or processed. Depending on the type of product, there are a variety of production standards that must be met in order to obtain certification. For example, with fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, “organic” indicates food has been grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (GMOs). For livestock and poultry products, it means that animals have been raised in natural living conditions and are not fed antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts. Conventional (non-organic) products, on the other hand, do not need to meet any regulations and can be grown or produced by any means.
Why We Recommend Going Organic For Healing
As part of our Garden Food Plan at Hope4Cancer Treatment Centers, we recommend our patients opt for organic choices as often as realistically possible. These choices go hand-in-hand with our healing framework, the 7 Key Principles of Cancer Therapy, in three major ways:
1. Organic Foods Aid in Preventative Detoxification
In the context of healing, detoxification refers to not only the process of removing toxins already present in the body but also reducing our exposure to them in the first place. Most conventional products are grown in soil that has been treated with a number of synthetic products and pesticides — many of which contain chemicals that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems carcinogenic and potentially cancer-causing (1, 2). These chemicals can leave a residue on fruits and vegetables and can even be absorbed into their flesh, which is inevitably ingested by the consumer. Since organic products are grown without these harsh chemical agents, choosing organic is a preventative detoxification measure, ultimately lowering our toxic load intake. This fact is confirmed by recent pesticide excretion studies, which show that individuals who choose an organic diet have lower levels of urinary pesticide metabolites (3). The less toxic buildup we have in our bodies, the better they can operate and promote healing from the inside out.
2. Organic Foods Complement Full Spectrum Nutrition
Full spectrum nutrition, one of the 7 Key Principles, involves not only selecting a balanced assortment of foods, but also ensuring they provide optimal nutritional value. A 2010 review of multiple studies found that organic foods provide greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphates than their non-organic counterparts — all of which are needed for optimum health (4). Additionally, organic options also contain higher amounts of antioxidants, known to play an important role in cancer prevention, as they neutralize the type of cell damage associated with cancer (5).
3. Organic Foods Support the Gut Microbiome
As Hippocrates once said, “all disease begins in the gut.” The gut microbiome is a complex network of microorganisms that is responsible for aiding digestion, boosting the immune system, and processing toxins. A rich, balanced, and diverse population of microbes is necessary for maintaining health. On the other hand, a disruption of this balance can cause an increase in harmful microbes, causing them to become aggressive and pathogenic, a phenomenon linked to cancer. Recent research reveals that where and how food is cultivated can influence both the number and variety of gut microorganisms. For example, in a 2019 study comparing organic and conventionally-grown apples, organic apples harbored a “significantly more diverse, more even, and more distinct microbiota,” while conventionally-grown apples were found to carry potential food-borne pathogens (6).
Whether it be from cancer or any other chronic disease, healing is a layered journey that starts at home. Likewise, the nutritional choices we make must start at the source. Our bodies respond to everything we subject them to — meaning these choices can significantly influence the state of our health. Organic products support our health and work seamlessly within the 7 Key Principles framework by limiting toxin exposure, providing much-needed nutrients, and keeping the gut microbiome intact. When you choose organic, you actively choose to support your body’s health and healing process.
2. Evaluating Pesticides for Carcinogenic Potential. US EPA, 11 Apr. 2022.
3. Vigar, V.; Myers, S.; Oliver, C.; Arellano, J.; Robinson, S.; Leifert, C. A Systematic Review of Organic Versus Conventional Food Consumption: Is There a Measurable Benefit on Human Health? Nutrients, 2020. 12(1): p. 7.
4. Crinnion, W.J. Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients, Lower Levels of Pesticides, and May Provide Health Benefits for the Consumer. Alternative Medicine Review: A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic, 2010. 15(1): p. 4-12.
5. Singh, K., et al. Antioxidants as Precision Weapons in War Against Cancer Chemotherapy Induced Toxicity – Exploring the Armoury of Obscurity. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal : SPJ : The Official Publication of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Society, 2018. 26(2): p. 177-190.
6. Wassermann, B., Müller, H., & Berg, G. An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples? Frontiers in Microbiology, 2019. 10.