By Jamell Andrews
When you find out you’re expecting, your priorities shift instantly and from that moment on, your love for your baby takes center stage. This is the time when many women begin thinking more about their health and the things that they can do to ensure that their baby is healthy as can be. For many expectant moms, this includes making the change to a healthier and even organic diet.
The Difference between Organic and Conventionally Farmed Foods
Organic foods are those that are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals, genetic engineering, or radiation. Rather than using pesticides to protect crops or chemicals to help them grow; organic farming uses natural options, like compost and manure to fertilize crops and enhance growth, and certain insects and birds, or traps to help reduce fungus, disease, and pests. Organic meats, poultry, and dairy come from animals that are raised on organic feed in a natural environment without being given hormones or antibiotics.
The Benefits of Organic Foods for You and Your Baby
Along with doing your part for the environment because organic growing practices conserve water, reduce pollution, and preserve soil quality, the most obvious benefit to opting for an organic diet, especially as an expectant mom, is that you expose yourself and your baby to fewer potentially harmful chemicals.
Though the jury is still out on whether or not organic foods are any more nutritious than non-organic, there is mounting evidence that the pesticides and additives used in conventionally-farmed foods carry health risks.
Pesticides have been linked to:
- Various cancers
- Brain and nervous system toxicity
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Several studies, which were referenced in the Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2016 guide on pesticides in produce, found that pesticide toxicity in children, including those exposed prenatally, resulted in an increased risk of:
- lower IQ levels
- nervous system depression
- impaired perceptual reasoning
- learning difficulties
- memory issues
- attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives in March 2016 studied the effects of an organic diet during pregnancy on certain birth defects in male infants. The study found that mothers who consumed organic foods even just sometimes during pregnancy were less likely to give birth to a boy with hypospadias, a congenital condition in which the opening of the urethra is located on the underside of the penis.
An entirely organic diet may not be affordable for everyone, but opting for organic foods whenever possible is still worth considering for your health and your baby’s.