The Importance of Organic Foods During Pregnancy

The health expert spokesperson for Better Health Store dishes on why organic food is best for mom and her unborn baby, plus offers advice on what to consider when buying organic.

Whether you’re trying to conceive or just found out you’re pregnant, it’s never too early to make changes to your diet to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients needed to support the growth and development of your unborn child.

That’s why it’s so important to eat organic foods that are nutrient-rich and free of pesticides, antibiotics and additives, says Dr. Corey, health expert spokesperson for Better Health Store and a board certified Naturopathic Doctor at Thrive On Life in Brighton.

Organic food, unlike conventional or commercially grown food, is farmed by a certain set of standards, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Organic farming is free of fertilizers, growth regulators, livestock feeds, pesticides, additives and bio-engineered genes (GMOs) — unlike conventional or commercial farming, which includes the use of pesticides and herbicides and even depletes the soil of vital minerals essential to the growth and development of your unborn child.

“It’s literally minerals and amino acids that lay the foundation of our physical body, and if we’re not getting the minerals in the food, we’re not getting the minerals that baby needs at certain times of development,” Dr. Corey says.

Still, many opt for conventional foods because they are cheaper and oftentimes have a longer shelf life. When it comes to making the switch to organic foods, here are some things to consider.

Tips for buying organic

Not all organic seals are treated equally, so when it comes to buying organic food, do your homework. The USDA organic seal is the most popular, but there are others, which have different standards. Google these and educate yourself on what each seal means.

Also, remember that natural products are not the same thing as organic. The label “natural” really has no standard — anyone can put “natural” on a product, whereas certain standards must be met in order to be labeled “organic.”

If you can’t afford to purchase solely organic foods, Dr. Corey says there are some foods in particular you should try to buy organic.

The dirty dozen — which includes strawberries, spinach, kale, collard greens and mustard greens, nectarines, apples, grapes, cherries, peaches, pears, any of the bell peppers or hot peppers, celery and tomatoes — should be organic. They are prone to sprays and things can settle on their skin, so it’s safer to eat the organic versions. If you can’t buy these organic, Dr. Corey suggests omitting these foods from your diet and looking for alternatives.

When it comes to fruits and veggies with coatings on them already — think bananas or avocados — they are a little bit safer because of the peels, but Dr. Corey says to remember they’re grown in nutrient-deficient soils, so if you can purchase the organic versions that’s always best.

Meat eaters should opt for grass-fed or free-range meat. Why? Animals that are raised through organic farming are not force-fed genetically modified corn like those on conventional farms.

“What happens is those toxins settle within their tissues, which is what we eat, and also they become higher in omega-6s as opposed to omega-3s, which is pro-inflammatory,” she says.

Animals raised through organic farming practices are eating their native diets and spending time out in the sunlight, and it makes a huge difference. Take chickens, for example. Chickens raised through organic farming produce orange egg yolks versus pale yellow egg yolks. That’s because chickens are outside and eating their proper diets, so they are getting vitamins D and A, which of course impacts their eggs.

“If you’re going to go this way, don’t buy a month ahead,” she suggests. “Try to buy weekly at the store, find a farmers market moving into the summertime or find things you can freeze.”

While freezing can degrade a little bit of the nutrient profile, it’s still much better than buying commercial foods, she notes.

If you’re going to visit a local farmers market for some more affordable options, ask your local farmer the following questions about their farming practices:

Are herbicides or pesticides sprayed on crops? You’ll want to hear “no.”

What are the animals fed and do they have access to the outdoors? Most animals like to eat grass and that should be the main part of their diet. You don’t want the farmer to tell you “corn or soy” as the animals’ diets.

Is there any type of crop rotation? The farmer should say “yes.”

Oftentimes local farmers are practicing organic farming but haven’t been able to afford to receive the organic seal, so they really are a great option for those hoping to save some cash on organic foods.

Content brought to you by the Better Health Store. For more information, visit the Better Health Store website.

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