Does organic food improve health?

Eating well and preferably food of organic origin, that is, without so many pesticides, is an idea that is gaining more and more followers, including the scientific class, as a measure of prevention of multiple diseases related to the heart, diabetes and even cancer. Doctors Ane Escribano and Ana Castaño , both oncologists and experts in oncological and non-oncological nutrition, attend patients daily at the Brussels Clinic in Madrid, trying to establish guidelines to achieve, as far as possible, improve the lives of their patients. through correct nutrition.

“Do we Spaniards eat well?”

“We think our diet has worsened in recent years.” Since we eat less calories daily and gain more weight. Obesity becomes an increasingly prevalent disease in our population (adult and child). Studies support that moderate obesity can shorten life 3-4 years and if it is morbid it can reduce it by 10 years.

The change in the rhythm of life of an important part of the population that, when living away from their work, is forced to eat outside. This circumstance does not have to be negative, you can eat out even better, the important thing is to have a good food education.

In our society it has been observed that the intake of vegetables, fruits and legumes has decreased significantly. With an increase in the consumption of red meat, saturated fat and industrial products. Hydration is not carried out adequately, as the daily water intake is scarce when it is replaced by sugary and / or alcoholic beverages. All this together with a more sedentary way of life, translates into a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypercholesterolemia, high blood pressure and cancer.

—What is meant by eating well and healthy?

—Eating healthy means eating foods from all groups (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), in the correct amounts. A balanced diet supposes the ingestion of all the macro and micronutrients necessary for our body to function properly.

The adult Spanish population ingests an average of 2,500 calories / day, but obesity is higher today, than two decades ago (although calorie intake was higher), probably due to a more sedentary lifestyle.

—What criteria should we follow when making the purchase?

—Related to the economic crisis in our country in recent years, it has been observed that the population with less economic power has clearly worsened their dietary habits. Consuming industrial products at a much lower economic cost, prepared or pre-cooked products, snacks, sugary drinks … with a high percentage of saturated fats and unhealthy carbohydrates and with a process of production that is not recommended. Which translates into higher calories ingested and low level of nutrients. In the shopping basket, fruit, vegetables, cereals, brown rice should predominate, not forgetting legumes. As for red meat, we should lower consumption,

“How does the way we cook affect our health?”

—We must know that food loses nutrients in the cooking process. For this reason, we recommend eating vegetables and fruits raw since it is the healthiest and most nutritious form. We also ensure a large supply of dietary fiber, which translates into regular intestinal transit.

Steaming is the healthiest cooking method, since almost all nutrients are preserved intact. It is advisable to boil foods with low water content, such as cereals and grains, because they have little loss of nutrients. Always avoid reaching a cooking temperature of 100 º or higher.

We should avoid, as far as possible, eating foods cooked at high temperatures, barbecue, fried … The sofrito, made with virgin olive oil, is the one that least modifies the properties of the food.

The containers that we use to cook food are important. Teflon and aluminum pans and pots are not recommended. PVC-type plastics must not reach high temperatures.

—There is a great controversy over whether organic food is a scam or really a factor in better health and preventing certain diseases. What do you think about this?

—Although not everyone agrees, organic foods are nutritionally superior to other foods since these are grown without any additional substances. When grown naturally, they retain their flavor much better. Unlike those grown in greenhouses, soils with chemical substances that accelerate their growth.

In non-organic crops, the use of pesticides is usual to guarantee cultivation. They are difficult to eliminate, so we surely ingest part of these pesticides. Organic livestock is the one that contributes the least saturated fat since its animals have been raised with breast milk and products without additives or flours of animal origin.

Organic farming and livestock is not a luxury and although it is more expensive than conventional farming, let’s not forget that what we save on a non-organic product we end up paying on other products such as nutritional supplements, vitamin complexes …

—How do you know the average consumer that they are not cheating?

—Organic plant and livestock production, its labeling, control and marketing must comply with the standards established in this Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/931 of the commission of June 17, 2015, which modifies and corrects Regulation (EC) no. 1235/2008, which establishes the implementing provisions for Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 as regards imports of organic products from third countries.

We emphasize the labeling of an organic product that must be easily visible on the packaging and contain a reference to the control body that certifies that product. The vegetable production is carried out in soils where the treatments for the same respect their life and natural fertility, the use of a limited number of phytopharmaceutical products authorized by the Commission is allowed. The seeds and vegetative reproduction materials must be produced ecologically. The cleaning products used must have been authorized by the commission. Livestock production must ensure that the origin of the animals and their development are carried out on organic farms, their feed must be of organic origin and their cleaning and disinfection must be carried out using products authorized by the Commission.

—Do we know how pesticides in agriculture affect our health in the long term?

—Pesticides are chemical substances used by man to combat some living things considered as pests, because they can spoil fields and cultivated food.

According to the reports of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), approximately 90% of the analyzed foods contain pesticide residues but within the permitted limits. It indicates that European foods are safe, because the detected presence is not dangerous for health.

However, we must continue to demand greater control and clarity in the same face from the population since the intake of pesticides is related to the development of diseases.

Pesticides have been linked to diseases in the reproductive system (sterility, malformations, abortions), liver, brain, and immune system (higher incidence of allergic diseases and infections)

They have been linked to the possible increase in cancer incidence in people exposed for long periods to pesticides and pesticides, although until cancer is diagnosed it can take up to 30 or more years and exposure to pesticides must be continuous. The cancers that have been most associated with pesticides are brain cancer, breast cancer, and leukemias and lymphomas.

“Does eating well prevent disease?” How and to what extent?

—The answer is yes. Excess fat intake is related to a higher incidence of diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, cancer of the endometrium, colon, ovary, breast, prostate … vitamin D deficiency has also been observed to be associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer. and prostate, osteoporosis,

We must continue to recommend the well-processed Mediterranean diet of our elders.

—What is the biggest problem of infant feeding?

—A correct diet during childhood is important because the organism is growing and forming, which is why it is more vulnerable to any nutritional problem.

During childhood eating habits are established that later will be difficult to change. If these are not healthy, they will lead to obesity and health problems in adulthood.

If the nutrition in this stage of life is in the majority with little nutritious foods, foods with excess of fats and calories and sugary drinks, it will lead us to the development of deficiency states, especially micronutrients. Deficits in vitamin D, folic acid, and zinc are the most common among children in industrialized societies.

It is essential that from childhood, the importance of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is instilled as well as a daily ration of fiber and legumes. We should teach our children to eat more blue fish like sardines, tuna, anchovies, all of them rich in omega 3 beneficial for the heart, cell and brain regeneration, among others.

The high prevalence of childhood obesity in our environment, its negative influence on the child’s psychosocial development, the risk of perpetuating itself in adulthood and its dire consequences, make childhood obesity a real health problem.

The factors involved in the development of obesity in today’s society are multiple:

Fat boy idea = healthy boy

Foods excessively rich in animal fats

Sedentary life: Excessive number of hours of television, computer

Decreased physical exercise

Genetic causes

The treatment of this pathology must be carried out in the hands of a health professional.

It is important to keep in mind that feeding properly is more than just supplying our body with enough food. In an adequate diet, there is also a good selection of food, the socio-family situation, habits and customs (food, religious, etc,), education, cultural level, … to all this we must add the physiological moment or possible special situations such as preoperative, antibiotic treatments, chemotherapy treatments, radiotherapy, periods of increased physical or mental activity …, which sometimes require supplementation or modification of the usual diet, advising that it be done with the guidelines of a professional health.


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