By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
As an anti-aging physician, I have frequently scratched my head wondering exactly why people continue to debate whether organic food is truly healthier than its conventional counterpart. After all, is there really any question whether food produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, preventative antibiotics, artificial hormones, and GMOs is actually better for you than food that is?
Then I came across an article which helped me understand why people are so divided on the issue. In a nutshell, the article illuminated the “health halo” around organic food – that is, the tendency for people to see a food as healthy simply because it bears the organic label, regardless of what type of food it is… I have to agree –relying only on the organic standard is shooting in the dark when it comes to choosing healthy foods.
Organic vs High Vibration Foods
I am a big proponent of good quality, organic, high vibration foods. When given the choice, and if the budget allows, you should always choose organic vs conventional.
The general public has caught on, which is great. The more we support organic farming, the more mainstream and affordable it becomes for everyone, and the better our planet fares in the long run.
But here’s where the perception of organic gets a little murky…
The organic movement has created more of a demand for organic versions of everything. These days, it’s not unusual to see organic versions of boxed macaroni and cheese, packaged cookies, chips, cereal, ice cream, and more.
Research shows consumers are responding. In fact, more than half of shoppers say they are purchasing more organic foods than ever before, often because they believe the organic label means the food is healthier for them.
Sadly though, “organic” is not necessarily synonymous with “healthy.” Slapping an organic sticker on a bag of cookies or box of candy does not mean they miraculously become the nutritional equivalent of spinach or kale. That being said, it does mean that those cookies or candies are made with cleaner ingredients, but those ingredients can still take your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
Let’s take a closer look at when it’s worth buying organic, and when you should think twice about some organic foods.
When Is Organic Truly Better?
When it comes to produce, dairy, and meat, organic will almost always be the healthier option.
Organic crops tend to have higher levels of health-promoting antioxidants—including phenolic acids, flavones, flavonols, and anthocyanins—than their conventional counterparts. Many of these beneficial compounds have been shown to reduce risk of health issues such as heart disease, neurodegenerative problems, and some cancers.
Organic produce is also grown without the use of genetic engineering and synthetic pesticides*, and tends to be lower in cadmium, a toxic metal.
Moreover, organic dairy and meat contain greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid—and just as importantly, no artificial hormones or antibiotics. Studies have concluded that, “prevalent use of antibiotics in conventional animal production as a key driver of antibiotic resistance in society.”
For all of these reasons, avoiding conventionally grown food and choosing organic produce and free-range, pasture-raised, grass-fed animal products is better.
Let me take it a step further. Organic is not only healthier but also more alive. By that, I mean that nutrient-dense, organically-grown food has a higher vibrational energy. High vibrational foods are foods in their purest form—as close as possible to their natural state, and cultivated and produced healthfully and conscientiously.
Take, for example, organic strawberries. When picked when perfectly ripe from an organically maintained field, these berries have a high vibrational energy because they’re grown without chemicals and allowed to ripen by synthesizing sunlight. Compare them to conventional strawberries grown on a farm thousands of miles away. Sprayed endlessly with pesticides*, picked before peak ripeness, stored in freezing cold shipping containers, and hauled across the country to your local grocery store, these berries provide fewer phytonutrients and have lower vibrational energy.
Even lower on the vibrational chain? Processed junk food. Which brings me to my next point…
When Organic Is Mostly Hype
Organic junk food is still junk food. Cookies or chips made with organic ingredients still have little nutritional value, lower vibrational energy, and eventually impact your health in negative ways.
Organic vs conventional processed junk foods tend to be equally high in sugar and low in fiber and protein. Organic foods may avoid the use of high fructose corn syrup, but replacements (brown rice syrup, organic cane sugar, etc.) are just as high glycemic index and create a similar blood sugar spike.
Over several years, a steady diet of organic junk food will have some of the same detrimental effects as a diet of conventional junk food: Weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health issues. The one big difference is that organic junk food won’t also carry pesticide residues and other junky chemical additives, which means they have a somewhat higher vibration than conventionally produced junk food. However, the processing and sugar keeps these organic foods from being truly healthy.
That’s why I encourage everyone to eat a diet that’s not only organic, but rich in whole, high vibration foods, including:
- Organically grown, preferably local and seasonal fruits, vegetables and legumes—whole and raw is best
- Healthy oils like extra virgin olive, avocado, and coconut oil
- Fermented foods /beverages like sauerkraut / kim chi, kefir, yogurt, and Kombucha
- Nuts, seeds, and nutritious whole grains such as amaranth, oats, brown rice, quinoa, spelt, or buckwheat
- Meats and poultry from free range farms, and eggs from pasture-raised hens
- Wild-caught, small migratory fish
- Herbs, spices, and herbal teas
Keep in mind, not all processed foods are bad for you. After all, extra virgin olive oil is a very minimally processed food. So is tomato sauce. Minimally processed organic foods can absolutely be a part of a healthy diet, as long as the ingredients are well sourced and kept to a minimum. Generally speaking, the shorter the list of ingredients, the better it is for you. The longer the list of ingredients, the greater the likelihood that it’s been highly processed and contains sugars and additives—and therefore is less healthy and has a lower vibrational energy.
Be sure to check the ingredient labels. (To learn more about nutrition labels, click here.)
Remember, when we consume healthy, high vibration foods, we enhance our own energy in a positive way, right down to the cellular level. And when our cells are healthy, they can efficiently metabolize nutrients and meet our body’s energy needs and other demands.
Unfortunately, as much as I know most people would love their bag of organic chips or cookies to be healthy, there’s truly nothing that helps your body thrive like organic, whole high vibration foods.
*Note – I use the word, “pesticide,” here as a general term to describe all non-organic chemical applications to crops to prevent pests, weeds and insects, and intend it to encompass more specific substances like herbicides (like glyphosate) and insecticides.
- Berkeley Wellness. The Organic Health Halo. Last accessed July 5, 2019.
- Packaged Facts. Organic and Clean Label Food Consumer in the U.S. – Food Consumer Insights. Last accessed June 11, 2019.
- Barański M, et al. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):794-811. Last accessed June 12, 2019.
- Axel Mie, et al. Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. Environ Health. 2017;16:111. Last accessed June 14, 2019.
© 2019 Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.