- Diet & Weight Loss
How Organic Foods Can Help You Lose Weight
Many people are aware that chemical pesticides and herbicides used on crops are bad for human health and the environment, but relatively few people are aware that they can also make you gain weight.
Many chemical pesticides and herbicides are known or suspected xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are a type of endocrine disruptor, a man-made substance that interferes with the body's hormone balance. Xenoestrogens interfere with hormone balance by mimicking the behavior of the hormone estrogen in the body. Estrogen is a very important hormone that is vital to good health, especially for women. However, if estrogen levels get too high, either naturally or because of the effects of xenoestrogens, it can cause many health problems, from menstrual cramps and migraines to infertility and breast cancer. Excessive levels of estrogen are known as estrogen dominance.
How Xenoestrogens Make You Gain Weight
Another common side effect of estrogen dominance is weight gain.
This is because of the interaction between estrogen and another major
hormone called insulin. Insulin is used by the body to convert
glucose, a type of sugar created when the body digests food, into
energy. The body can become resistant to the effects of insulin over
time due to any of several factors. When insulin resistance
develops, the body can no longer convert glucose to energy and instead
begins to store it as fat. If left untreated, insulin resistance can
lead to obesity, diabetes, and many other serious health problems.
Estrogen is known to increase the body's resistance to insulin. When estrogen levels are normal, the effect is negligible. However, when there are excessive levels of estrogen in the body, estrogen dominance can be a major factor in the development of insulin resistance.
Unfortunately, once the body become estrogen dominant and insulin resistant, it often becomes trapped in a vicious cycle. Estrogen is produced by fat cells, so excessive estrogen causes the body to become more insulin resistant and create more fat cells. The fat cells produce more estrogen, causing the body to become more estrogen dominant, which results in more insulin resistance, which leads to more weight gain, and so on.
How Organic Foods Can Help
Organic foods can help break the cycle by reducing the levels of xenoestrogens in your body, decreasing estrogen dominance.
Chemical residues on foods might not seem like much, but over time, they do add up. Studies have found that the average American consumes about one pound of pesticides and other chemical residues every year from food.
The effect of this exposure over time is still poorly understood. However, it is known that many chemicals break down very slowly. One of the most notorious xenoestrogens of all time, DDT, was banned decades ago in the United States, yet detectable levels of the pesticide are still found in the breast tissue of many women. Women who have detectable levels of the pesticide in their breast tissue are five times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who don't - often 20 or 30 years after their initial exposure to the chemical.
Switching to organic food reduces the chemical load in your body and begins to restore your body's natural hormone balance. Although switching to organics may not help you lose weight if it is the only step you take, by reducing your body's level of insulin resistance it can help you lose weight more easily when combined with other diet and lifestyle changes.
The Most Important Fruits and Vegetables To Buy Organic
If you can't afford to go completely organic, you can still reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens by buying these fruits and vegetables, which typically have the highest chemical residues, organic:
- green beans
- sweet peppers
Other Important Foods To Buy Organic
The other most important foods to buy organic are meat and dairy products.
Growth hormones fed to conventionally raised animals to make them reach slaughter-weight more quickly are another major source of xenoestrogens in food.
Conventional dairy is triple trouble. Non-organic dairy products combine naturally occurring female hormones found in milk with the growth hormones given to the cows to make them produce more milk. Chemical residues from non-organic feed are also stored in fatty tissue in cows just as they are in humans, so milk can become contaminated by chemical residues stored in the udder.
Organically raised animals are fed organic feed and never given growth hormones. Organic standards also seek to ensure a more humane and natural lifestyle for the animals, in addition to the health benefits for consumers.