When it comes to your kids’ health, is it really always better with organic? Recent published reports share conflicting results, making it increasingly difficult for parents to feed their kids. New studies both from Stanford University and the University of Florida try to examine current research that approaches two different aspects of organic- its nutritional content compared with conventional food and the possible health effects of chemicals found in conventional farming.
Typically, organic food and food grown with synthetic chemicals are comparable in traditional nutrient profiles (though that’s not the case with organic milk, which carries greater amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids). Organic food is superior when it comes to antioxidant-rich phytonutrients, though. Still, researchers are wanting to find out more about just how these plant compounds may help keep us safe from things like cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
However, both the Stanford study (which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine) and the University of Florida research (published in the journal Pediatrics) discovered that organic systems help protect us against the dangers of hard-to-kill, antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA. The reason for this is that organic bans these drugs in animal products, while conventional farming practices permit farmers to frequently feed these dangerous drugs to healthy animals. The bacteria start to figure out these drugs and eventually outsmart them, with many of them being extremely important for human health.
The way in which pesticides impact our children, however, is a more complex one. “In our research, we’ve observed relationships between early prenatal exposures and poor developmental outcomes in children up to 7 years old,” says Asa Bradman, PhD, associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health at University of California, Berkeley.
Many other research reports have found an association between low-level exposures and a greater risk of childhood ailments such as ADHD, autism, low IQ- and even cancer. Still, these represent observational studies, Bradman explains, implying scientists are evaluating results in the population and then seeing what happens. Though they provide hints, they don’t act as scientifically-verifiable proof- which is a major reason these studies are oftentimes confusing. Studies that would provide proper evidence would be unethical, because they would have to involve purposely exposing children to toxic chemicals like scientists are permitted to do to rats, mice, and other laboratory animal subjects.
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