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Take the 7-day organic challenge to detox

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Although many so-called “experts” insist that the conventional toxic food sold in supermarkets is safe, if you are in search of better health, the answer to what’s for dinner (and lunch and breakfast) is simple. I have written about this topic repeatedly because new research keeps cropping up in support of my position: Eat organic as much as possible if you want to be as healthy as possible.

Supporting my position: Reports from the Environmental Workers Group (EWG) and studies published in the journal Environmental Research are two of the reports that show eating organic improves a healthy lifestyle.

My food relationships

We all struggle with our health in one way or another. For me, food has always played a key role in my life; it’s important during family functions as well as in celebrations. It can add to comfort at some moments and help you grieve at others.

Yes, turning to food for comfort can be unhealthy and does little to change the issue at hand; but it nonetheless is a common comforting asset in American culture.

For me, even when I have eaten well in the broadest terms, I have not felt my best in simplest terms. I am a chronic headache sufferer since childhood. I was always warned off certain foods that are known to trigger migraines. Yet, in spite of these omissions, I still got headaches. I also suffered chronic musculoskeletal pain my entire life (perhaps a result of being born almost three months premature).

Pain in many forms has been a common experience for me.

At one point, I changed my diet entirely to vegetables and fruit. Weeks later, pain still came. It was then I took a long hard look at what I was eating and at the research on organic versus conventional foods. I switched to mostly organic and have felt more vibrant ever since.

The basic dietary concept

While there are thousands of diets out there, for me, eating fresh, whole vegetables and fruit and free-range, chemical-free animal protein is the basis of a healthy diet. Eating enough to feel satisfied, but not stuffed, and a balance of protein and complex carbohydrates to keep blood sugar stable is a good way to go. The rest is up to your individual preference.

However, what is not arbitrary is the necessity of avoiding food that has been grown in toxic surroundings while being sprayed with poisonous chemical pesticides and herbicides. These products are toxic to the body and will break down your health. And when companies tell you the chemicals are safe, they lie.

Moreover, buying “farm fresh” from a roadside stand is not an indication that the food is safe, either. Yes, it may lend to the idea of eating locally to support your neighborhood farmers. But if those farmers are spraying their crops (and most are), then your support of them is slowly damaging you.

Farmers who spray their crops with poison and sell the poisoned food to us are not worth supporting. Don’t be fooled into thinking the strawberries you buy at the roadside stand are any more healthy than those in the conventional isle at the chain food store. They may not be.

Study: organic versus conventional

According to the results of a new study published in the journal Environmental Research, eating mostly organic food for as little as one week “can reduce pesticide exposure in adults by almost 90 percent.”

The study, carried out by RMIT University in Australia, was the first ever to compare the difference in pesticide residue in adults who consume both organic and conventional food. After only seven days of eating 80 percent organic food, urine analysis found that study participants had 89 percent less organophosphate pesticide in their bodies.

According to lead investigator, Dr. Liza Oates, “Conventional food production commonly uses organophosphate pesticides, which are neurotoxins that act on the nervous system of insects — and humans — by blocking an important enzyme.”

Even at relatively low levels, which are presented as “safe” by U.S. governing bodies, have been shown as harmful to humans in many studies.

Change is slow, and admitting fault is even slower. So it is up to us as individuals to make the switch to organic until such a time as conventional food is once again safe for human consumption.

The organic switch

In a previous article I wrote about the real cost of eating organic. A study showed cost less than $2 extra per day to switch to an organic diet. But that is still $60 per month more on food than you may be spending now.

To make the switch to organic easier, and less costly, I recommend you begin by swapping out a few conventional foods before you move on to other foods.

The Environmental Workers Group (EWG) each year releases their “Dirty Dozen” list. This is a listing of the foods that are probably the highest in pesticide residues. Many of these fruits and vegetables are poisoned from the inside out. The toxins enter them through their roots; the chemicals are not just on the skin. In other words, washing an apple or peeling it does not protect you from a conventional apple’s chemical toxins.

The dirty dozen

The EWG analyzes pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Dirty Dozen Plus are the worst and should be avoided.

In other words, when deciding which foods to begin your switch from conventional to organic, start with these:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines (imported)
  9. Cucumber
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas (imported)
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Kale/collard greens

On the other hand, some fresh foods are less contaminated with pesticides and herbicides, and have very little residue after spraying — mostly because of their thick skins. The following list, called the “Clean 15,” are conventional produce that are safe to eat and do not require an organic label to be healthy.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas (frozen)
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

A new beginning

I know how hard it is to make changes. I also know it is harder when you think you have been eating well and find out for no fault of your own that you have not been after all. I had to switch grocery stores in order to find organic versions of the Dirty Dozen, and that meant a change in routine. But it was worth it. I feel better than ever, and so will you. So whether you eat plenty of produce now or not, give organic a try for at least seven days and see how you feel. It’s no longer enough just to eat vegetables and fruit to be healthy. Most of what you eat must be organic.

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