Many people wonder whether or not eating organic foods is necessary. The biggest drawback to eating organic is the cost. On average, the cost of buying organic is on average 20% higher. So it leaves us wondering, how bad can consuming non-organic foods be? Do the benefits of eating organic foods outweigh the cost? In short, yes! Especially if you have an autoimmune disease.
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease. Our body attacks its own healthy tissue when gluten is consumed. So what does this have to do with eating organic? EVERYTHING! Eating organic foods is essential to our recovery and healing our digestive system.
Organic Vs. Non-Organic – Are Non-Organic Foods that Bad?
The foods grown in conventional farming methods are riddled with toxins and chemicals. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), synthetic pesticides and herbicides, and antibiotics and growth hormones have become common practice and widespread in today’s conventional farming. According to TIME,
“the commonly used herbicide Roundup has been classified as a “probable human carcinogen,” and the insecticide chlorpyrifos has been associated with developmental delays in infants. Studies have also suggested that pesticide residues—at levels commonly found in the urine of kids in the U.S.—may contribute to ADHD prevalence; they’ve also been linked to reduced sperm quality in men.” Time.com
Foods grown organically use fewer synthetic pesticides and artificial fertilizers. The British Journal of Nutrition found that foods grown organically were less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticides, and were “also 48% less likely to test positive for cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the liver and kidneys”. Time.com Organic foods are also produced without antibiotics or synthetic hormones, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
“In 2010, Scientists who had been studying possible links between environmental toxins and cancer concluded that Americans should eat organic produce grown without pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals. Their report stated that the U.S. Government had grossly underestimated the number of cancers caused by environmental toxins.”
So How Do the Toxins of Conventional Farming Practices Affect those with Autoimmune?
According to Dr. Amy Meyers, a leader in Functional Medicine as well as a New York Times Bestselling author of The Autoimmune Solution and The Thyroid Connection, “reducing your toxic burden is one of the four key pillars of preventing and reversing autoimmune disease” (Amy Myers M.D.). She believes the
“cumulative impact of daily exposure to these toxins increases your risk of developing an autoimmune disease, and can cause your condition to progress if you’ve already been diagnosed.”
Meyers has three main reasons to consume organic foods:
1) Pesticides Have Been Directly Linked to Autoimmune Disease
2) Non-Organic Meat Contains Growth Hormones & Antibiotics
3) Organic Produce is More Nutritious
Pesticides and Toxins Increase Stress on Already Burdened Liver
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is responsible for producing chemicals necessary for the body to stay healthy. It stores vitamins, sugars, fats, and other nutrients we get from food. But, more importantly, it cleans up and breaks down the harmful substances and toxins, as well as removes waste from our blood.
According to Dr. Michael Antoniou at King’s College London, who performed a study concerning the relationship between the impairment of liver function and consumption of Roundup and herbicides.
“The findings of our study are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease – namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” Nature.com
This is concerning because there is already a strong correlation between celiac disease and compromised liver function. In an article written by Jane Anderson for Verywell.com, she talks about one study finding that “42% of newly diagnosed celiac patients had mildly elevated liver enzymes” (https://www.verywell.com/celiac-disease-and-liver-diseases-562618). When the liver does not function properly, healing our digestive system and body from the damage of celiac disease becomes a much greater challenge.
Ruba Assam, MD wrote about Liver Abnormalities in Celiac Disease for The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, listed the range of liver impairment in celiac disease to include the following:
- Mild inflammation of the liver parenchyma reversible on a gluten-free diet (celiac hepatitis)
- Chronic inflammatory liver injury that may lead to fibrosis or cirrhosis irreversible on gluten-free diet
- Severe liver failure potentially reversible on a gluten-free diet
- Fatty liver disease
- Regenerative nodular hyperplasia
- Cryptogenic cirrhosis
When you have celiac disease, especially if it is long standing, the likelihood of you liver being compromised is increased. To consume non-organic foods will only further amplify the burden on the liver, as well as increase the probability of suffering from liver impairment.
Organic Food Proven to be More Nutritious, But by How Much?
In Dr. Josh Axe’s book Eat Dirt, he believes organic foods are better for your body and that their nutrient levels speak for themselves. Axe writes of a study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition, where organically and conventionally (non-organic) grown apples, pears, potatoes, wheat, and sweat corn were compared and analyzed for their mineral content of a 2 year period. At the end of the 2 year period, the organically grown foods were found to be:
- 63% Higher in Calcium
- 73% Higher in Iron
- 118% Higher in Magnesium
- 178% Higher in Molybdenum
- 91% Higher in Phosphorus
- 125% Higher in Potassium
- 60% Higher in Zinc
Chris Kresser writes in his book called The Paleo Cureof another comparison, between grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef. Kresser states that “Grass-fed beef is also much higher in key micronutrients than grain-fed beef.” He lists the nutrient advantages of eating grass-fed beef as being:
- 7 Times more Beta-Carotene
- 3 Times more Vitamin E
- Higher levels of Glutathione
- Twice as much Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- 30% More Calcium
- 5% More Magnesium
Tips for Eating Organic
Eating organic foods will not only offer more nutrients and fewer chemicals, but they will also help nourish your body and aid in your recovery from celiac disease. There is an often referred to dichotomy of:
“Pay the Farmer Now, Or the Pharmacy Later”
While this rings true for so many, the cost of buying organic foods can still be significant. So here are some helpful tips to get you started.
- Start with buying organic foods that are part of the “Dirty Dozen”