Unless you’ve been living in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” you’ve probably heard people talking about eating organic. With all of the health crazes that appear one day and blow away the next, it’s easy to disregard the latest trends.
“The cumulative effects of artificial ingredients, chemical exposure, and synthetic materials on the hormonal health of women (and men for that matter) has been far greater than most of us realize.”
But organic (or natural) eating has shown real staying power. It has moved from trend, to a full-blown movement. There’s a reason: When you learn what goes into non-organic, mass-produced food, the benefits of natural eating become clear.
The implications of non-organic food ingredients can be of particular interest to women who are approaching, or going through menopause. Let us show you why.
What Is Organic?
First things first: What does organic mean?
Organic fruits and vegetables must be grown without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and there can be no exposure to toxic sewage or irradiation. There are also restrictions on genetic engineering of the plants. Any genetic selections must not introduce allergens, viruses, toxins, or proteins that are novel to the plant.
The standards are similar for meat, and other animal products such as milk and eggs. Every organic animal product must come from animals that were raised on organic feed. Furthermore, the animals that these foods are derived from cannot be given the antibiotics or hormones that are commonly used to accelerate growth and profitability in non-organic livestock.
What Are The Benefits?
Foods that are grown and raised naturally tend to have a greater density of nutrients, compared to their non-organic counterparts. Organic milk and tomatoes have proven to be particularly more nutritious.
While increased nutrition is a factor, most of the benefits of natural eating are related to what you avoid. The pesticides in non-organic foods have been linked to the development of conditions like autism and ADHD in children. Pesticides work negatively against the nutritional value of food, and the overall health of adult consumers as well.
Antibiotics given to livestock end up in their meat, as well as milk and eggs. Overexposure to these types of antibiotics can make diseases harder to cure by creating bacteria and virus strains that are antibiotic-resistant.
Lastly, organic foods allow you to avoid the hormones found in most mass-produced animal products. Even the pesticides and chemicals commonly used on plants and vegetables can have an estrogen-like effect in the body.
Big-picture benefits of natural farming and consumption include increased sustainability, as well as more ethical treatment of the animals that make up so much of our food.
Why Is Eating Organic Particularly Important For Menopausal Women?
The cumulative effects of artificial ingredients, chemical exposure, and synthetic materials on the hormonal health of women (and men for that matter) has been far greater than most of us realize.
Constant exposure to toxins and hormones has made menopause much more difficult for modern women than it has ever been in the past. Even today, menopause is a much more mild experience for women living in less advanced cultures, who aren’t exposed to the same pesticides and hormones in their food.
Pesticides have preserved our crops from insects. Hormones and antibiotics have yielded larger, faster growing livestock. But these advancements have come at a price that can be acutely felt at menopause. The hormonal picture of modern menopausal women is far more volatile because of the exposure to hormones, and chemicals that interact with the body like hormones.
Finding relief from the symptoms of menopause is all about restoring balance to the hormones that are naturally declining during this phase of life. It can be difficult to balance hormones, when they are being so heavily impacted by outside sources, such as non-organic food.
What Steps Should I Take?
Fortunately, the demand for natural food has made healthy, clean options readily available at most grocery stores. All you have to do is select the foods (especially produce, meat, and animal products) that are labeled organic.
Every product that is labeled organic is required by the USDA to meet certain standards before it can make that claim. There are three different categories of organic labeling that actually mean different things.
“100% Organic,” means exactly that. All of the ingredients in that product are completely natural, without exception.
“Organic,” means that the product with this label is at least 95% organic.
“Made With Organic Ingredients” means that at least 70% of the ingredients in that product are organic.
Anything below the 70% threshold cannot display any organic designation on their packaging.
Organic foods still typically cost a little more than their mass-produced, mainstream counterparts. That’s unlikely to change, as growing without hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides presents challenges and expense to farmers. But as the demand for natural food continues to grow, the cost should continue to drop.
In the end, you have to weigh the value of natural food versus the cost. But as the price at the grocery store continues to draw closer to non-organic foods, and we learn more about the effects of the chemicals found in most plants and meats, the choice gets easier.
Want more nutrition info? Click here to read our article "Sugar: The Sweetest Mistake."
“Health Benefits Of Organic Food.” Organic Facts. Organic Facts. n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Lee, John R. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2004. Print.
O’Brien, Robyn. “What Does ‘Organic’ Actually Mean?” Huffpost Healthy Living. Huffington Post. 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.