While every day is a great day to go organic, there are times when committing to a diet free of pesticides and other toxins is especially important - motherhood. From conception and well beyond, eating an organic diet may have a powerful impact on the health and well-being of mom and baby. Six months prior to conception through pregnancy, birth, and within the first two years of life marks the period of "heightened vulnerability to developmental abnormalities" according to an Organic Center report. During this time, what we eat and what products we are exposed to can have life-long impacts for our children and for ourselves.
Conventional fruits and vegetables found in your local supermarket is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides that cannot be removed by simple washing. Pesticides found on conventional produce make their way into the womb and into the blood of newborns, according to the Environmental Working Group's study Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns. The chemicals found in the blood of infants, as well as in their mothers, are linked to cancer, birth defects, developmental delays, and immune system issues. Additionally, a 1993 study in the Journal of Applied Nutrition demonstrated that organically grown fruits and vegetables have a higher nutritive content than those that are grown with traditional farming methods. Organically grown apples, wheat, sweet corn, potatoes and pears were examined over a two-year period and were shown to be 63% higher in calcium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in potassium, and 60% higher in zinc than their non-organic counterparts. The organic produce was also 29% lower in mercury.
Eating a nutrient-rich and non-toxic diet during pregnancy simply makes sense. And continuing a healthy lifestyle while nursing enriches the benefits for mom and baby. A 2007 British Journal of Nutrition study revealed that mothers who consumed organic milk and meat products positively affected the quality of their breastmilk by "markedly increasing beneficial fatty acids." Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is important for immune system development in infants, as well as having anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetic properties.
Early exposure to toxins, such as endocrine distruptors, may also have long-term health impacts. Scientists are now studying the "developmental origins of adult disease", taking into consideration prenatal and neonatal exposure to environmental toxins. Several researchers have pointed to early exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides as a trigger for misprogramming metabolism and appetite, potentially contributing to escalating rates of obesity and diabetes among children.
Limiting our exposure to pesticides and harmful toxins is a healthy choice at any age, but one of monumental importance for the next generation. Whether planning a family, expecting, breastfeeding, or trying to raise healthier kids, resolving to lead a more organic lifestyle is a wise choice.