You’ve probably heard by now that how your food is raised or grown can have a huge effect on your physical, mental and emotional health, along with the environment.
Luckily, non-GMO, organic and grass-fed food products have become more and more popular, which means they’ll start to get more affordable, too.
From my experience, I noticed a difference once I made the full shift to organic, non-gmo, sustainable produce and organic, grass-fed meats. Not only was I feeling better because my body didn’t have to work so hard to eliminate all the extra toxins and pesticides, I could taste a difference in the food I was eating - especially when it came to meat and eggs. (I’ll explain this more below)
However, looking through the maze of food labels, claims and benefits can be confusing. Do pesticides and GMOs cause problems, especially in your gut? Is organic food really better?
Here’s what we know to be true, along with some of my personal gut-related insights.
But wait. What IS a GMO food?
As explained directly from the NonGMOProject.org (the organization behind proper Non-GMO food labeling) a GMO, or genetically modified organism is:
A plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified using recombinant DNA methods (also called gene splicing), gene modification or transgenic technology. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Genetic modification affects many of the products we consume on a daily basis.
Organizations cite studies showing organ damage, intestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility in animals that consume GMO crops. Human studies explain that genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and live in our bodies (and guts) indefinitely!
And what is the difference between Grass Fed meats and Grain Fed?
Factory meat has the wrong fatty acids, contains obesity-causing hormones, and usually has mycotoxins (very nasty biotoxins formed by mold in cattle food and meat processing).
Cattle, goat, lamb, etc are considered ruminant animals - which is defined as a mammal able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion. If your meat isn't fed the nutritious food it was born to digest, that means there are no nutrients in its meat left for you to digest.
Simple as that.
Grass fed meats leave out the hormones, antibiotics, and other chemical the agribusiness adds to grass fed meats. And leaves the nutrition.
When I Made the Shift
As I shared above, I noticed an immediate difference once I made the full shift to organic, non-gmo, sustainable produce and organic, grass-fed meats. I could feel my body actually digesting, gaining minerals and nutrients from produce and meats that were so much different than what I’d been used to.
I felt like my body wasn’t struggling to filter out all those additional toxins, antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. And not only could I see a difference in the foods I switched to, I could taste a difference in the food I was eating - especially when it came to meat and eggs. I was shocked to see the difference in color between a regular, pale yellow yolk of an egg from a standard $2.00 carton compared to the vibrant, orangy-red color that stared up from my frying pan the first time I chose organic eggs and made them.
I noticed a big difference in the quality, smell, and even color of the meats I was purchasing that were locally sourced, grass-fed, and organic, compared to the antibiotic and growth hormone meat I’d been used to. If you want a side-by-side example for yourself, hold up organic, grass-fed chicken breasts at the food store next to a standard $.99/pound hormone-rich chicken breast. Do you notice a difference in the size of the two? Why do you think that is? (For those of you wondering, the standard, hormone-rich chicken breast will be almost double the size, paler in color, and would have a different scent if you were able to sniff the two side-by-side.)
Not convinced? Here are a few more reasons:
1. Many studies from peer-reviewed journals have revealed that organic, non GMO foods have higher nutritional value.
Charles Benbrook, a sustainable agriculture expert and scientist of The Organic Center explained that nutritional decline in plant foods boils down to economic issues. He said that plant breeders can uphold and even fortify the nutrient content of their crops. However, large growers want bigger size and faster growth so they can harvest quickly. Such factors compromise nutritional quality.
Further, genetically altered seeds (GMO crops) are specifically developed to produce more than the usual at the expense of the nutritional content. For example, a corn seed is programmed to absorb more nitrogen so it will grow faster and increase production. In this case, it will naturally take less nutrients.
2. Relatively toxin-free
Again, organic livestock are raised in a way that adapts the normal processes of growth and development. In organic farms, animal welfare is high in priority, with animals having free access to outdoor areas or fields with sufficient shelter and protection. Natural bedding, fresh and clean drinking water and indoor areas are also typically provided.
Organic livestock are grass-fed in pastures free from any application of herbicides, chemicals and pesticides. The use of animal by-products, synthetic nitrogen supplements, growth hormone promoters, additives and genetically modified products are not allowed. Antibiotics can only be used under exceptional situations. Treated animals and their products shouldn’t be sold as ‘certified organic’.
Organic fruits, vegetables and grains are grown without using any synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic grains are processed under certified organic facilities that haven’t been treated with toxic chemicals. Organic grains are milled in the most natural way, often by physical methods such as stone milling. Though the method is slower, it prevents dehydration and overheating. Also, the process ensures that all parts of the whole grain – the germ, endosperm and the bran, along with the vitamins and minerals, are retained.
Organic flour can’t be bleached and the use of synthetically-made yeast is prohibited. Organic bakers don’t use yeast but only allow the bread to rise in a natural way. When making sourdough breads, fermentation process takes 18 hours to allow the beneficial lactobacilli to develop fully.
3. Organic farming is environmentally friendly.
Organic farming practices bring numerous environmental benefits.
Organic farming discourages use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. The use of chemicals results in various negative environmental problems. Pesticide use allows resistance to disease in weeds, fungi, bacteria and even plant-eating insects. Chemicals sprayed on crops contaminate the water supply, air and soil. What’s worse, these harmful chemicals remain for decades. By discouraging the use of chemicals, it builds healthy soil that are rich in minerals to grow healthy food. Natural cultivation practices are better than chemical soil management.
Organic farming not only builds healthy soil, it also helps fight serious land and soil issues such as erosion. Based on a study comparing organic wheat fields from the chemically treated, results showed that the organic field has higher level of topsoil, with only one-third of the erosion loss, than the chemically treated field.
Organic farming promotes water health and conservation. When our water supply is in danger, everyone will end up suffering. A major threat to our bodies of water is the runoff from huge commercial farms such as animal waste, toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic farming helps clean our water supplies by not contributing to that dangerous runoff. Furthermore, organic farming can help conserve water. In general, organic farmers tend to spend more time improving soil conditions and using mulch than others.
It’s important to note - that if your colon is clogged, even if your food is organic, your body will not absorb the benefits (and nutrients) of this food.
Stick to the BeatSIBO protocol to start to clear your symptoms and get things moving!