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The Benefits of Dextrose
October 10, 2022 02:16 PM
You may not have heard of dextrose before, but it's actually a very important sugar. Also known as glucose, dextrose is a simple sugar that plays a big role in cellular energy production. In fact, dextrose is the primary source of energy for most living organisms. That's why NOW Real Food® Dextrose is such a great sweetener; it's derived from non-GMO corn and is easily utilized by your body. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of dextrose.
The Role of Dextrose in Cellular Energy Production
Dextrose is essential for cellular energy production because it's able to cross the cell membrane and be quickly used by the cells for ATP synthesis. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the energy currency of the cells and is necessary for all cellular processes. Dextrose is also essential for brain function because the brain cannot store ATP. This means that the brain needs a continuous supply of dextrose in order to function properly.
The Benefits of NOW Real Food® Dextrose
NOW Real Food® Dextrose is a great choice for a sweetener because it's derived from non-GMO corn and is easily utilized by your body. It also has a number of other benefits, including:
Dextrose is an important sugar that plays a big role in cellular energy production. That's why NOW Real Food® Dextrose is such a great sweetener; it's derived from non-GMO corn and is easily utilized by your body. If you're looking for a gluten-free, Kosher sweetener with a fine texture and moderate sweetness, NOW Real Food® Dextrose is the perfect choice for you.
May 08, 2009 10:00 AM
L-Cysteine is what is known as a non-essential amino acid, meaning that it can be biosynthesized by the body and hence not an essential part of your diet. Due to its possessing a thiol side chain, it is termed a hydrophilic amino acid with an affinity for aqueous systems. Because of this it is relatively highly reactive, and is therefore an important component of a large number of enzymes and proteins.
Although, after all, it is not an essential amino acid, deficiencies can occur in the young and in the old, and also in those suffering certain metabolic diseases. Dietary sources include high-protein foods such as chicken, turkey, pork, dairy products and vegetables such as cereals, broccoli, garlic and onions.
The biochemistry of this amino acid begins with another amino acid known as serine, and also methionine. The latter is fist converted to homocysteine, which is then combined with serine to form cystathionine. This is then converted into cysteine and alpha- ketobutyrate. The thiol group is highly reactive and gives cysteine its biological properties.
L-Cysteine possesses strong antioxidant properties due to the thiol group which easily undergoes redox reactions. However, it is for its detoxification effect on the body that the amino acid is mainly taken as a supplement. It is, therefore, these properties that we shall discuss first.
Cysteine can reduce the toxic effects of alcohol, such as a hangover or the more serious liver damage. The by-product of alcohol metabolism that does most damage and is responsible for the majority of the negative after-effects of excessive alcohol consumption is acetaldehyde. L-Cysteine converts acetaldehyde into the more acceptable acetic acid, and so prevents the aldehyde from having too much of a negative effect on your health and well-being. However, the results obtained from such studies have been from animals only, and the therapeutic effects of cysteine have not yet been tested on humans.
What has been tested and is known is that L-cysteine is effective in the detoxification of heavy metals in the body. A common source of heavy metal toxicity is mercury from amalgam fillings in the teeth. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared in 1989 that dental amalgams are a hazardous substance under the Superfund law, many people still have them in their mouths.
The thiol group and L-cysteine has a high affinity for mercury and other heavy metals, as previously stated, and a supplement can be used to remove from the body any mercury leached from mercury-based tooth fillings. It can also be used to bind to copper, lead and cadmium. Lead and cadmium are particularly toxic to the human body, and even though lead is no longer used in plumbing or paints, and cadmium in toys or paints, there are still many sources of these two heavy metals available that can lead to human toxification.
An L-cysteine supplement can be used to remove these heavy metals from the body. Any proteins containing cysteine will tightly bind heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, molybdenum, cobalt and mercury, and allow them to be excreted by the body in the usual fashion. This direct involvement in heavy metal detoxification is a very useful property of this amino acid.
Another detoxification application of L-cysteine is in direct involvement in protecting cellular glutathione levels, and also the prevention of the death of liver cells by acetaminophen poisoning. The latter is of particular interest to many people since acetaminophen is better known as paracetamol, and since this is a freely available over-the-counter drug, overdoses are not unknown. The result of an overdose is the necrosis of liver cells, with eventual liver failure and death.
The treatment of choice is N-acetylcysteine. If used within 10 hours of the overdose it is extremely effective, and even from 16 to 24 hours it is better than other controls. It is believed that the acetylcysteine liberates cysteine which, when available to the liver, enables the biosynthesis of glutathione. Glutathione can then maintain the production of the fifth metabolite required for the specific detoxification of the paracetamol/acetaminophen.
L-Cysteine is also an essential component in the biosynthesis of coenzyme A, an enzyme essential for the production of energy from fats and carbohydrates. It is also a very important component of hair, from which it is commercially produced. Without an adequate intake of L-cysteine the growth of healthy hair would not be possible.
There are several supplemental uses of L-cysteine including the treatment of bronchial conditions for which the amino acid can help to liquefy and clear mucus from the airways and lungs. It is also used to protect against side effects of chemotherapy treatment of cancers and for medical treatments for excessive exposure to radiation.
However, there are certain situations in which L-cysteine should be avoided when at all possible. Diabetics should not use it, and neither should those suffering from cystinuria, whereby large quantities of amino acids, including cystine, are excreted in their urine. L-cystine, incidentally, is formed by oxidation of L-cysteine.
Paradoxically the amino acid is one of the several hundred additives made to tobacco by the cigarette companies. Although, as with the majority of tobacco additives, its purpose is unknown there are two possible reasons for its inclusion. L-Cysteine is a known expectorant, so it could be added to promote the expectoration of mucus in the lungs which is promoted by smoking, and it also increases the production off the antioxidant glutathione that is depleted in smokers.
There are several other non-medical uses for the amino acid, but it is for is its detoxification properties that it is most used as a supplement. However, because it is largely derived from human hair or duck feathers, it may not be classed as Kosher or halal in spite of many claims made to that effect, though the more expensive source of microbial fermentation from corn sugar can be.
The substance is recognized as safe by the FDA, and must be labeled as L-cysteine when it is present in a preparation intended for its therapeutic effects. Keep in mind however, that it should be avoided by diabetics.
New Dynamic Health Laboratories
August 10, 2006 02:39 PM
A line of dietary supplement liquids featuring some of the most exciting nutritional products available in today’s market place. Dynamic Health has been supplying the industry with the highest quality natural liquid health products for more than a decade. Dynamic Health is a New York State Corporation established in 1994. it is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all product satisfy FDA labeling requirements. All Dynamic Health products are certified Kosher and some are certified organic.
Following are just a few of the 40+ Dynamic Health items available from VitaNet:
Goji Juice blend. The delicate berries of the Goji plant have been treasured for centuries by the Himalayan people. Formerly a Tibetan secret, goji juice was used in ancient recipes as a delicious elixir. Goji is rich in minerals, amino acids, antioxidant vitamins, polysaccharides and phytonutrients compounds.
Mangosteen Juice Blend. For centuries, the people of Southeast Asia have treasured the Mangosteen fruit for its many life-sustaining benefits. Recent scientific inquiry has revealed the extraordinary benefits of the Mangosteen and its rich supply of powerful antioxidants called xanthones.
Acai Juice. Acai palm tree flourish in the lush rainforests that are fed by the Amazon river. The dark purple Acai berries contain up to 33 times the antioxidant content of red wine grapes. These amazing berries have traditionally been used to increase energy, stamina, vitality, and to promote overall healthy living.
Organic Noni Menopause formula. Designed especially for premenopausal, peri-menopausal, and post-menopausal women, this unique formula provides 12,000 mg of certified organic Tahitian Noni per 1 oz serving! In addition, the formula is enriched with soy isoflavones, dandelion, pomegranate juice, chaste tree berry, red clover, black cohosh and calcium.
The Free Radical Theory
December 14, 2005 12:11 PM
The popular theory has been the subject of a great deal of research. Developed by Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Nebraska in 1956, the free radical theory proposes that unstable molecules known as free radicals are responsible for inflicting extensive cellular damage, which causes cell death and dysfunction and eventually, disease. The most common type of free radicals are oxygen derived, and free radical damage is often referred to as oxidation.
Environmental sources of free radicals include radiation (I.E., sun exposure, X-rays), ozone and nitrous oxide, heavy metals (i.e., mercury, cadmium, lead), smoke, alcohol, saturated fat, and other chemicals and pollutants. The body itself generates free radicals in performing essential bodily functions including energy production and immune activities. Fortunately, the body also has the ability to create antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals and prevent extensive cellular damage. When free radicals are not neutralized by antioxidants, they inflict large-scale cellular damage which can cascade and lead to age-related degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and age –relaged macular degeneration. For example, free radical damage to joint cells may cause the cartilage to become rough or break down, and can lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Antioxidants are needed to comb at free radicals and prevent this cellular damage. “Oxidative stress can lead to DNA mutations, cell death, and disease, all of which contribute to aging,” said Gerald R. Cysewski, president and chief executive officer (CEO) at Cyanotech corp. “Antioxidants are produced naturally by the body to combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. Increasing the amount of antioxidants in one’s system by consumption of supplements can provide further protection from the damaging effects of free radicals.”
Because the body is continually assaulted by free radicals, antioxidant supplementation is often necessary. “by taking certain nutrients that our bodies stop producing over time, supplements help us to maintain a youthful look and health, which in turn enhances the quality of life,” Alkayali said. “Furthermore, supplements can help decrease oxidative stress that may otherwise accompany age-related illness and disease.”
Many Substances are known antioxidants including certain enzymes, vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals, and include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Carotenoids, Selenium, superoxide dismutase, melatonin, quercetin, catechins, and zinc.
Consuming a diet high in plant sources of powerful antioxidants is an important step to deter ageing, because nutrients from foods are often highly bioavailable and can act synergistically to increase their health benefits. Garlic contains several antioxidant phytochemicals and minerals including allicin, beta-carotene, quercetin, selenium and zinc, and may have a protective effect against stomach and colorectal cancers.
Catechins are potent antioxidants flavonoids, with the best known source being green tea; they include gallocatechin (GC), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin (EC) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These antioxidants are being studied for their powerful abilities to combat free radical damage. In particular, EGCG has been researched for its reported protection against certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.
Green Foods such as seaweed, sea vegetables, young grain grasses and shoots, broccoli, cabbage and other green leafy vegetables pack a nutritional punch due to their concentratged amounts of antioxidant carotenoids, vitamins and the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD is produced by the body and neutralizes free radicals known as superoxide radicals, which cause damaging fat oxidation. GliSODin is a patented form of SOD derived from cantaloupe and bound to a wheat protein for superior bioavailability. “GliSODin promotes the body’s production of its own endogenous antioxidants, including SOD, catalase and glutathione peroxidase, in virtually every cell,” said Eric Anderson, brand manager at P.L. Thomas. “This activation of the cellular antioxidant defenses across the whole body creates a state of alertness against any shock of oxidative stress, including sun rays, to which our body may be exposed.”
Pomegranates contain two powerful antioxidants—ellagic acid, derived from fruit’s seeds, and punicaligans, found in the juice. “Research has shown that the juice from the pomegranate, rich in polyphenols, reduces oxidative stress by helping to produce enzymes to fight free radicals,” Alkayali said. NeoCell Corp. manufactures of ellagic-acid based Pomegranate Power, while P.L. Thomas supplies POM40p, a Kosher-free pomegranate juice extract standardized to 40-precent punicocides, polyphenols belong to the punicalagin family.
Consumer demand is on the rise for products that address degenerative health conditions, including supplements that support function of the bones, joints, eyes. According to a June 2005 report by the freedonia group, “Bone and joint care products will continue to dominate the health maintenance segment, spurred by a growing customer base and a plethora of new and improved products expected to soon enter the marketplace.” The report also projected rapid gains for vision care. “Demand for vision care products will be propelled by aging baby boomers who are becoming aware of debilitating eye conditions and seeking both preventive measures and ameliorative treatments.” Dietary Supplements can help prevent and ease symptoms of age-related diseases affecting the joints, bones and eyes, including osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
June 30, 2005 09:20 AM
Depression By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt Depression is a widespread health imbalance that effects many people at some point in their lives, and may be caused by a multifaceted list of factors. Depression can be triggered by personal tragedy, loss of a loved one, or changes in life situations (even if they are positive!). Some of the less recognized causes of depression may involve diet, including over-consumption of sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical flavorings and preservatives, insufficient nutrition and foods that causes an allergic or sensitivity reaction in an individual. Lack of exercise and not enough sunlight, (i.e. Seasonal Affective Disorder), may be implicated as well. It is essential that those suffering from severe depression seek professional care. Since depression can arise from many different sources and operate on multiple levels, it is helpful to remember that “true healing” requires one to explore and address the root cause(s), not just attempt to cover up the symptom. Proper nutrition is essential. B vitamins can be helpful, such as Nature’s Answer’s B-Stress with Herbs, along with other nutrients such as the amino acids, GABA (particularly for anxiety), Tyrosine and Phenylalanine. Regular exercise, and a nice relaxing bath in lavender oil and sea salt are also enjoyable aids for lifting one’s spirits.
Herbs can be useful in relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Nature’s Answer offers many high-quality, single herb and combination formulas (liquid or capsule) that feature ingredients well-known for balancing emotional mood. Relora®* features a patented propriety blend of two herbs, Magnolia (standardized to 1.5% honokiol (3.75mg)) and Phellodendron (standardized to 0.1% berberine (0.25mg)) which, when combined according to a particular method, may help reduce the negative effects of stress, a factor that leads to depression as well as “stress overeating”. When the body is under stress, it causes the release of specific “stress hormones” that influence mood and emotional well-being. Relora® is unique because its active plant constituents work on the body’s natural chemistry to re-establish a normal equilibrium of stress hormones, while enhancing feelings of relaxation and cheerful outlook.
Another powerful, “all-in-one” proprietary herbal blend formula from Nature’s Answer® is Mood Balance 2™ (alcohol free liquid, vegetarian capsule). Mood Balance 2™ contains key ingredients well-recognized for their beneficial actions on emotional health, including St. John’s Wort, California Spikenard, Gotu Kola, Skullcap and Eleuthero root**. This combination of ingredients can help “lift the spirits”. (Note that these herbs are also available from Nature’s Answer® as single herb formulas in concentrated liquid herbal extracts and/or vegetarian capsules; Kosher).
Key ingredients in Mood Balance 2™include:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), used for a range of nerve disorders and said to “chase away evil spirits.” Since 1996, it has become one of the most popular herbs in the US due to its use as a mild to moderate antidepressant. A number of current studies confirm its effectiveness, including a review in the British Medical Journal of 23 clinical trials, which reported that it worked nearly as well as the leading pharmaceuticals with far fewer side effects. Although more research is needed, it appears that the activity of St. John’s Wort is due to a variety of naturally occurring components, including Hypericin and Hyperforin. Nature’s Answer’s exclusive formula, Super St. John’s Wort (vegetarian capsule), is standardized to both 3.0% hyperforin and 0.3% hypericin. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a nerve tonic and to treat emotional upset, insomnia, stress, anxiety and memory problems. It is currently used along with meditation and yoga due to its abilities to both calm and energize nerves. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) has the double action of relaxing nervous tension while building the central nervous system. As a mild bitter it will also help stimulate digestion and help the liver. Eleuthero root** (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is an “adaptogen” that helps to balance the entire system. It gives strength and fortitude, especially when dealing with stress; so often a factor in depression.
References for Educational Purposes:
Ocean Treasures - For centuries, people have flocked to the sea....
June 13, 2005 10:11 AM
Ocean Treasures by Chrystle Fiedler Energy Times, January 3, 2004
For centuries, people have flocked to the sea to take advantage of its healing and restorative powers.
"The ocean is alive with energy and abundant sea life," says Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Virginia and author of Hello Beautiful (MQ Publications). "It's an abundant source. Sea products are rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, all of which are known for their deeply cleansing and antibiotic properties. When we think of the sea, we think of health, invigoration, the feeling of being alive and yet peacefully calm."
"To the ancient Greeks, the image of Aphrodite rising out of the sea was beautiful because of the nutrients that the sea plants had given her," says Linda Page, ND, in Healthy Healing (Healthy Healing Publications). Today, sea plants still provide beauty benefits. "They have a complete spectrum of chelated minerals, which makes them easier to absorb, that add lustre and shine to your hair and eyes and improve skin texture and tone."
Thalassotherapy (seawater treatment) includes using salts, mud, foliage, sand and water from the sea to stimulate, hydrate and nourish the skin, making it smoother, firmer and more resilient.
"Using sea products in treatments is both restorative and detoxifying," says Galvez. "Now with modern technology, you don't have to live anywhere near the sea to take advantage of the wonderful health and wellness benefits. Your sea retreat source can be as close as your health food store."
Seaweed's Beauty Benefits
"Pollution, stress, fatigue and bad eating habits all affect the body," says Anne Mok, LaC, a certified Chinese herbalist and co-owner of Cornerstone Healing in Brooklyn, New York. This leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can result in broken capillaries, loss of firmness, skin lesions, dry scaliness and more.
The good news, Mok says, is since seaweed is packed with easy-to-absorb proteins, vitamins, minerals and lipids, it can protect against environmental pollution and ward off aging by nourishing and moisturizing the skin. "The seawater in seaweed is similar to human plasma, so it's an ideal way to get the nutritive benefits from the sea, vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals zinc, selenium and magnesium we need through the process of osmosis. Seaweed cleanses, tones and soothes the skin and regenerates body tissues, offering a new vitality and helping to maintain a youthful appearance. It also improves circulation, which has a positive effect on local fatty overloads and helps maintain the tone of the tissue." No wonder seaweed is used to firm the skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite!
Seaweed captures all the richness from the sea. "There is no genetic manipulation, fertilizer or pesticides, just the sea, light and the tides," says Mok. "[S]eaweed is ten times richer in trace elements than land plants."
Beauty aids from the sea include:
* Kelp (laminaria), a large leafy brown algae, grows along cold climate coastlines and can bring a healthy glow to skin. "Kelp powder has exfoliating properties that make it a great addition to a facial mask," Galvez adds. "It increases blood circulation and stimulates lymph production to eliminate toxins. It's also a mineral-rich body scrub for removing surface impurities."
* Crushed algae is often used in seaweed masks.
* Carrageenan, a gel extracted from Irish sea moss, is commonly used as a cosmetic thickening agent. "It's a great moisturizer that holds nutrients and water in," says Mok.
* Bladderwrack (fucus), a brown seaweed, is often used in cellulite-reducing creams to eliminate excess fluid from the skin.
A Seaweed Beauty Routine
Incorporating the benefits of seaweed into your beauty routine is easy. You can "purchase dehydrated seaweed at a natural food store to make your bath a mini-ocean," says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home (Henry Holt & Co). "Fill the tub to the point that you're covered when you lie down," says Dr. Page. "The idea is to make your body sweat, to open your pores, release toxins and take in the sea nutrient benefits by osmosis. Boost the effect with a few drops of aromatherapy bath oils like rosemary and lavender. It'll help hold the heat in and improve your cleansing program." Rinse off and "you'll feel your skin tighten, due to the high iodine content of the seaweed," says Cox. "Your skin should also feel softer and firmer."
Seaweed and algae body wraps are ideal ways to beautify the skin, rid your body of toxins and boost well-being and health. "It starts a program of detoxification very rapidly," says Dr. Page, who has also written Detoxification: All You Need to Know (Healthy Healing Publications). "It's amazing how it encourages weight loss and cellulite reduction." "Seaweed wraps are the most effective cellulite treatments," says Mok. "Seaweed and seaweed mud, especially, stimulate the cells to improve cellular activity and increase the efficiency of lymphatic fluid, which helps break down toxic deposits that can result in cellulite.
"It's excellent conditioning for the skin and leaves it soft and glowing," says Claudia Spagnolo, spa director for the DeFranco Spagnolo Salon and Day Spa in Great Neck, New York.
Revitalize With Sea Salts
Sea salts contain minerals-such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, iron, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine-that have a delightfully rejuvenating and revitalizing effect on skin.
"Sea salts enhance the youthful healthy glow of the skin," says Spagnolo. "It creates a deep pore cleansing from shoulder to toe, removing rough, dry skin, helping to purify and slough off dead skin cells. It's great for an all-over exfoliation, and leaves the skin smooth and refreshed."
"Sea salt has wonderful drawing properties, promoting the removal of toxins from the skin," says Galvez, author of Ooh La La Effortless Beauty (MQ Publications). "It's high in mineral content and nourishes the body."
Sea salt also "guards against moisture loss, so it's ideal for dry skin and helps prevent aging," says Mok. In addition, it can be used to treat acne, eczema and psoriasis. Often done before a massage in spas, a "salt glow," which uses a vigorous scrub of coarse sea salts mixed with essential oils, rejuvenates and revitalizes the skin. Sea salt is also readily available at health food stores so you can do the same at home.
Mineral-rich Dead Sea salts pack a salinity of 32%. "When bathing with Dead Sea salt you don't even need to use soap because the minerals remove redundant fat and dirt," says Mok. Dead Sea minerals are often used in shampoos, conditioners and shower gels. "Galvez adds, "Dead Sea mud mineral and vitamin content is very close to that of humans, and therefore treatments using the mud penetrate deeply."
Ah! Home Spa
It's easy to turn your bathroom into an oasis of calm and create a private spa to call your own.
For a sea cure bath, mix together half a pound of sea salt and a pound of baking soda, add to a warm water bath and soak until the water has cooled, says Mok. "It's excellent for soothing itchy and dry skin and helps detoxify by pulling out toxic waste from the pores." Aromatherapy oils, like lavender, make your soak in the tub even more relaxing and luxurious. "It's a great way to de-stress after a long day at work."
A seaweed wrap can release water retention and leave legs looking their sleekest, notes Mok. "Just soak legs in a bath of warm water and Epsom salts for 5 minutes, then pat dry. Apply a seaweed mask and wrap legs with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Relax for 15 minutes. Remove towel and plastic wrap and rinse."
You can also try a sea salt rub by mixing two cups of Kosher salt with one cup of olive oil until it forms a thick paste. (Be careful: the oil is slippery.) "While in the tub or shower, massage it into your skin using long strokes toward the heart, starting with your feet," says Galvez. Rinse off with warm water, use a soft washcloth to remove any residue, pat dry and apply moisturizer. "Your skin will be silky smooth and wonderfully hydrated." To create a spa environment at home, details make all the difference. "Think of your favorite beach get-a-way and go with an ocean theme," says Cox. "Include something for each of the senses." For example, put on a CD that has nature sounds. To capture the color of the water, use sea-colored towels. For scent, light candles that produce the scents of flowering plants (such as plumeria or citrus). Add "ocean" fragrance beads. When taking a bath, "use shells to scoop out sea salts or dehydrated sea weed and put them around the tub as decoration," says Cox. Smooth on a moisturizer with a sea-scented lotion when you finish your spa treatment.
When you make an at-home sea spa experience a regular part of your routine, you reap a bounty of beauty and health benefits. "In just 20 minutes you can have a mini-vacation," says Galvez. "It's cleansing and relaxing."
Then you will be ready to dive back into reality with renewed zest.
June 12, 2005 01:59 PM
Certified Foods by Glenda Olsen Energy Times, July 13, 2003
What's in your food, and where does it come from? To most American consumers, that question may seem unimportant. But the answers might surprise you. Your food's origin and processing can make a big difference in its nutritional value, for better and for worse. Increasingly, concern over the quality of food and its influence on health are persuading shoppers to take a greater interest in their food. The result: More visits to natural food stores and more sales of organic food.
Once upon a time, food used to be just food. Crops were grown on family farms, and animals were raised in barnyards. But today, corporations have conquered food production in a big way. Agribusiness is just that-a big business in which animals and plants are treated like assembly-line items and raised on factory farms.
While the term "organic" gets tossed around endlessly in the media, the term is often misconstrued. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), "Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones."
In addition, organic farmers generally do not use pesticides, sewage sludge or synthetic fertilizers. This type of food is also produced without genetically modified organisms and is not subject to radiation used to zap the bugs on food. Today, USDA-approved certifying agents inspect the farms where organic food is raised to ensure organic standards are followed. In addition, the companies that process food and handle organic food have to be USDA-certified. Meeting these standards allows companies to use the USDA's organic label on foods that are at least 95% organic in origin. Labels for foods that contain between 70% and 95% organic content can use the words "Made With Organic Ingredients," but cannot use the seal.
While the debate over the nutritional benefits of organic food has raged for decades, recent research is beginning to turn up evidence that organically grown fruits and vegetables may contain extra helpings of vitamins and other nutrients. A study at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, found that organically grown oranges contain more vitamin C than conventional supermarket oranges (Great Lakes Regional Meeting, Amer Chem Soc, 6/02).
Theo Clark, PhD, the Truman State professor who investigated the organic oranges, says that when he and his students began their research, "We were expecting twice as much vitamin C in the conventional oranges" because they are larger than organic oranges. To his surprise, chemical isolation combined with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy revealed that the organically grown oranges contained up to 30% more vitamin C than the conventionally grown fruits-even though they were only about half the size. "We speculate that with conventional oranges, (farmers) use nitrogen fertilizers that cause an uptake of more water, so it sort of dilutes the orange. You get a great big orange but it is full of water and doesn't have as much nutritional value," Dr. Clark says. "However, we can only speculate. Other factors such as maturity, climate, processing factors, packaging and storage conditions require consideration."
If you want to avoid pesticide residues in your food, research shows that going organic can make it much less likely that you or your family consumes these unwanted chemicals. Research, for instance, into the diets of children (Enviro Hlth Persp 3/03) shows that dining on organic fruits and vegetables, and organic juice, can lower kids' intake of pesticides.
These scientists took a look at the organophosphorus (OP) pesticide breakdown products in the blood of kids ages two to five who ate conventional supermarket produce and compared it with the OP found in organic kids.
The children on the organic diet had less OP in their blood than the other kids. As a matter of fact, the children on the conventional diet had six times the dimethyl metabolites, dimethyl being a pesticide suspected of affecting nerve function and growth. "Consumption of organic produce appears to provide a relatively simple way for parents to reduce their children's exposure to OP pesticides," note the researchers. "Organic foods have been growing in popularity over the last several years," says Jim Burkhart, PhD, science editor for the journal that published the study. "These scientists studied one potential area of difference from the use of organic foods, and the findings are compelling."
On the way to tonight's dinner, researchers have created genetically modified organisms (GMO), plants and animals that have been transgenically engineered. In the food world, that means organisms containing genes inserted from another species. Chances are if you eat food purchased at the typical supermarket, those comestibles contain GMO ingredients. In the United States, food companies are not required to label for GMO content.
A growing number of American consumers are upset about not being told about the GMO products in their food. But industry scientists, worried that informed consumers may someday turn their back on GMO foods, consider consumer ignorance to be an acceptable state of affairs.
For instance, the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is fighting regulations that would require GMO labeling. According to ASPB President Daniel Bush, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana, "The language...(in these types of regulations) is based on a system of beliefs of what is 'natural,' rather than a scientifically defined set of criteria focused on content and nutritional value. This is a radical departure from food labeling up to now, which is designed to maximize useful information for consumers concerning what is in the food they are buying."
Dr. Bush continues, "There are, of course, examples of voluntary labeling standards in the food industry that reflect how foods are processed, such as organic foods. The voluntary organic labeling standards were sought by the organic food industry. Kosher foods are also labeled as having been produced in accordance with specific beliefs. However, mandatory labeling of targeted production methods has never before been required and we believe would obscure rather than clarify important issues of food safety."
In other words, Dr. Bush opposes GMO labeling because he feels it would unnecessarily stigmatize GMO food items. Others are not so sanguine about the safety of GMO foods.
The arguments against GMO foods include:
These types of risks have motivated industry groups to urge more regulation of GMO crops. The Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association, plus seven other food groups, are worried that GMO plants grown to produce pharmaceutical drugs could contaminate the food supply and destroy consumer trust in food.
Mary Sophos, a vice president of GMA, warns, "To minimize the possible risks, a clear system of regulatory enforcement and liability needs to be in place. Until then, no permits for new field trials or for commercialization should be issued because there is no room for trial and error."
These food industry groups have voiced their concerns to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA. Last year, the USDA forced ProdiGene Inc., a biotech firm, to dispose of 500,000 bushels of soybeans contaminated with a drug meant to treat diabetes. What are the chances of more GMO accidents? No one knows. But if you buy and eat organic, you minimize your risk and maximize your chances of dining on safer food.