Organic foods are an important part of any health-conscious diet. Eating organic foods helps to minimize your exposure to undesirable chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics and can help to prevent the risk of developing diseases that can result from exposure to toxins. In fact, the best time to go organic is before diseases of inflammation such as arthritis occur. But if you suffer from arthritis or chronic joint pain, choosing organic is even more important to help minimize inflammation and pain.
Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, such as human-made pesticides and fertilizers, and does not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). USDA Organic is the only federally regulated organic label on the shelf. Organic certification means that farmers and businesses have met strict standards for the growing, processing, and handling of their products. Demand for organic food is on the rise, reflected in a significant 11% growth in the organic food trade in the United States, the world’s largest organic market.1
It’s important to recognize the difference between foods labeled as containing natural ingredients versus organic. Foods labeled as containing natural ingredients may be highly processed, and if they pertain to meat, it does not discriminate how those animals are fed. Also, any manufacturer can use this label, whereas the USDA-certified organic label is restricted to certified growers and producers. It has very strict standards on farming methods, organically fed livestock, and prohibits the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, or GMOs.
Here are the top five reasons to make sure you’re eating organic:
1. Avoid Harmful Chemicals: Organic foods are farmed without using harsh pesticides and herbicides which can be absorbed by plants and land in our bodies when we eat them. This can cause inflammation in the body, leading to increased joint pain. While there are a number of chemical environmental chemicals that are toxic in the environment, not all are found primarily in foods.
Exposure to foods that have been contaminated with chemical endocrine disruptors such as food contact with materials such as bisphenol A, chemicals in products such as diethyl phthalate (DEP) or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), synthetic estrogens such as 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE), and pesticides such as cypermethrin (CP), vinclozolin (VCZ), and atrazine (ATR) are associated with joint diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), suggesting that they interfere with bone metabolism.2
A diet high in fructose can drastically increase the risk of RA. Young adults who consume high fructose drinks more than 5 times per week have a three times greater risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis.3 While high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has replaced natural sugar in many foods because it is very cheap to produce, it can still be found in some organically labeled foods. However, most HFCS is made from GMO corn, and GMOs are prohibited in USDA-certified organic foods. Foods labeled as containing natural ingredients, however, may contain HFCS. Stores such as Whole Foods, have banned foods containing HFCS and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
2. More Nutrient-Dense: Studies have shown that organically grown produce has a higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than conventionally grown food – all essential components for healing joints naturally! This is important to reduce oxidative stress that can lead to chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, atherosclerosis, vascular diseases, and metabolic syndromes. The most commonly observed essential vitamin and mineral deficiencies in patients with RA, are folic acid, Vitamin deficiencies, particularly vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B 6, vitamin B 12, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium have been observed in rheumatoid arthritis patients, reinforcing the need for eating foods high in antioxidants such as selenium and vitamin E to potentially decrease free-radical damage to joint linings.4
3. Improved Quality of Life: Eating organic foods can help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to an improved quality of life for those with chronic joint pain and arthritis. Inflammation is often caused by highly processed foods, high in sugar, wheat, and trans-fats. Arthritis can greatly impact day-to-day function, thereby reducing the quality of life. Replacing highly processed foods with organic foods can be challenging, as many processed foods are designed to be addictive. Slowly converting your diet to one using organic versus processed foods can make a significant difference in how you feel.
4. Avoiding Allergens: Since organic foods don’t contain artificial ingredients or preservatives, they are less likely to trigger food allergies or sensitivities that can contribute to inflammation. Many individuals are unaware that they may have food sensitivities contributing to continued inflammation and pain. While individuals may have food sensitivities even to organic foods, this may be due to the effects of chemicals or additives that create a leaky gut and allow for foods to leak out of the stomach and into the circulation, causing the body to react to foods and increasing the risk for developing food sensitivities. Many food sensitivity tests also include testing of some chemicals in addition to specific foods.
5. Supporting Environmentally-Friendly Farming Practices: By eating organic, you’re supporting farmers who use ecologically sound methods that both protect our environment and ensure high-quality produce is grown! It also can be easy to grow your own foods. Growing microgreens is particularly easy and nutritious and takes very little time.
Organic farming practices are beneficial for everyone – but if you suffer from chronic joint pain and/or arthritis, it’s especially important to make sure you’re eating organic produce. With these five reasons in mind, incorporating more organic foods into your diet can be an easy and delicious way to start feeling better!
Click this link for information on finding local organic farmers.
1. Arce-Amezquita PM, Beltrán-Morales FA, Manríquez-Rivera GA, Cota-Almanza ME, Quian-Torres A, Peralta-Olachea RG. Nutritional value of conventional, wild and organically produced fruits and vegetables available in Baja California Sur markets. Terra Latinoamericana. 2019;37(4):401-406. doi:10.28940/terra.v37i4.524
2. D’Amico R, Gugliandolo E, Cordaro M, et al. Toxic Effects of Endocrine Disruptor Exposure on Collagen-Induced Arthritis. Biomolecules. 2022;12(4):564. doi:10.3390/biom12040564
3. DeChristopher LR, Uribarri J, Tucker KL. Intake of high-fructose corn syrup sweetened soft drinks, fruit drinks and apple juice is associated with prevalent arthritis in US adults, aged 20–30 years. Nutr Diabetes. 2016;6(3):e199-e199. doi:10.1038/nutd.2016.7
4. Juturu V, Kremer J. Dietary Approaches and Alternative Therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2010;6(4). doi:10.2174/157340110793663662
I am a Master’s prepared RN, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Board-Certified Functional Wellness Coach, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I help people fix their chronic inflammation & pain with in-home lab testing, client assessments, personalized natural healing protocols, and online coaching to help them move from pain to peace so that they feel better, move better, and live better.