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Does Eating Organic Make for a Healthier Pregnancy?

We’ve all seen them – the women that go from a steady diet of cheeseburgers and ice cream and what seems like dozens of lattes a day, to being pregnant and now suddenly spouting words about the critical nature of organics and showing you Swiss chard from their CSA and sharing their secrets about what to do with organic beet greens. Does this sound like your friend?

Yep.

More and more people are learning about the importance of eating an organic diet, and find no better time to go ahead with it than pregnancy! As it is, many women are scrutinizing and altering their diet during those precious nine months. You’re giving up deli meats and unpasteurized cheese, questioning the server at your favorite sushi restaurant and looking longingly at people drinking large coffee specialty drinks. 

You’re now focusing on eating as healthy as you possibly can – for yourself, and for your baby-to-be. While you're at it, why not go organic? Here are seven reasons why eating organic makes for a healthier pregnancy:

8 Better Safe than Sorry

We don’t know all the potential dangers that eating “conventional” (aka non-organic) foods can lead to. Conventional foods can contain pesticide remnants; artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and colors; can contain growth hormones, and can be genetically modified. Because we don’t know all of the risks associated with their consumption, many opt for the safer choice limiting their exposure to many unwanted elements during these nine critical months.

As my good friend said during her pregnancy, “C’mon. If I can give up wine for nine months, I can opt for organic foods for nine – and let me tell you, organic foods are a much easier choice!” Best of all – the benefits of eating organic foods are immediate upon switching! A study found that children who changed their diet to an organic diet reduced the pesticide remainders found in their urine to almost undetectable within just five days.

There are a lot of things we don’t really know about pregnancy, and a lot of the things we avoid are only recommendations – so if you’ve already done things like adding a prenatal vitamin and began eating healthier, an organic diet is one more step in the quest for a healthy baby.

7 Avoid the “Dirty Dozen”

Not all foods have as many pesticides as is often claimed. You might want to look at your diet and then be sure to buy organic versions of whatever foods you eat the most that have the highest amount of pesticides aka “the Dirty Dozen.” The foods that are highest in pesticides include apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas, and potatoes.

Because all these foods have the highest pesticide residue, opting for organics will lower the amount of pesticides that you ingest. If you can’t afford to purchase all of these foods organically, choose organic whenever possible for the 'Dirty Dozen', or eat smaller quantities of all of these fruits and vegetables.

It's plain, 'Yuck!'

Besides the obvious 'yuck' when thinking of eating pesticides, they can be dangerous to our health and development. For instance, organophosphate pesticide which is often used on apples is linked to lots of problems, including decreased intelligence in children, increased attention problems in children, and increased hormone problems in adults.

6 Where’s the Beef?

Opting for organics in your meat consumption might be a good option for many reasons. One study found a link between women who ate “conventional” (aka not organic) meat and lower sperm counts in their sons as adults. These men were also found to be three times more likely to have consulted a fertility specialist.

Grass-fed and organically raised cows are also leaner and healthier overall – so if you’re looking for meat that has five times more omega-3 fatty acids, opt for organic meat. Most women try to eat as healthy as possible during pregnancy so organic meat is an obvious choice for them.

Importance of the Omega-3s

Why are omega-3s important? One study found that infants whose mothers ate diets high in omega-3s had higher attention spans! Bring on the omega-3 fatty acids! By opting for organic beef, you’re actually preparing your sons for healthier lives as adults – and for helping with future generations of your own family!

If you think organic red meat costs too much, try reducing your red meat intake (and upping your other forms of protein, like organic soy, organic chicken, and organic eggs). 

5 Say NO to Antibiotics – in Your Food

While most of us know that antibiotics play an important role in managing our health, do you really want them in your food?

Wait, why are antibiotics in food?

Antibiotics are routinely given to animals on farms in order to prevent infection and illnesses. It’s estimated that around 70% of antibiotics made in the United States are given to animals for “nontherapeutic purposes”. Sex hormones and growth hormones are given to cows to artificially increase how much milk and meat the cows produce – without requiring any extra feed from the farmers.

The Risk Involved

There’s not enough research right now on the long-term effects of eating animals that have been given antibiotics. There is a risk that over time, the animals will become immune to antibiotics they are routinely fed. Then, if people eat improperly cooked meat and become ill with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they will find that antibiotics will not be able to cure an infection. Yes, unfortunately, the long-term use of antibiotics given to animals can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Sounds scary? It’s a bit. Basically, the fewer antibiotics given to animals, the less you’ll ingest. Stay on the safe side, and opt for organic meats.

4 Skip the Additives – Added Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better!

The verdict is still out on whether or not additives have been linked to ADHD, as has been claimed by a few studies. The FDA believes there is a link between those who are already prone to ADHD only and further studies will have to be performed to confirm the final verdict.

But if you’re still worried, opt for organic food. This means you will consume foods that are 'natural' - artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives will not be present in whatever you end up buying. With all that out of your food, you are bound to have a healthier diet!

It's Best to Stay Safe

Instead of risking your own well-being together with that of your developing baby, it is best for you to go organic in terms of what you eat. Yes, it may be costly, but the benefits you will gain by eating organic food definitely make it worth it. 

3 Organic is Better for You

Seriously. Many studies have found that organic food is higher in nutrients than conventional foods – higher in vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium, iron, chromium, and magnesium.

Organic foods are also free of neurotoxins, which are toxins that damage both brain and nerve cells. Neurotoxics are present in some pesticides that are sprayed on crops to kill insects. Eating organic means not eating neurotoxins. People at times hesitate to eat organic foods because 18% of all genetically modified seeds (and in turn, the foods that grow from them) are made to produce their own pesticides. Some studies have found that the seeds might even continue producing these pesticides after they are in your body.

Other Benefits of Organic Foods

Organic foods might be linked to lower cancer risks as well. The EPA classifies 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides as potentially cancer causing – things that could potentially be contained in conventional foods as trace elements.

2 It’s Better for the World

Eating organic is not only better for you and your baby, but for the environment and the entire world at large too. When you choose organic food, it means saying “NO” to a whole chemical-centered system of agriculture. It means saying yes to fewer pesticides. The EPA estimates that pesticides pollute the primary drinking water source for half of the American population. Half. Buying organic means less pesticides, which means less pollution.

Pesticides can pollute not just the water, but the air as well. They damage soil quality (and thus, the quality of the foods you eat), and also have grave impacts for insect species, soil microorganisms, plant root and plant immune systems. When farmworkers tend to organic farms, they don’t have to handle pesticides. Farmworkers who are exposed to pesticides on conventional farms are more likely to experience various health problems, including higher rates of Parkinson’s disease as compared to the general population.

1 A Cleaner World

Don’t you want to leave a healthier, cleaner world for your children? Eating organic food means fewer pesticides used to damage the earth - eating organic means better food for you and the world!

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