Do Organic Vegetables Have More Nutrients?

Do organic vegetables have more nutrients

When choosing whether to buy organically grown fruits and vegetables, there are many considerations to be weighed.

On one hand, we all would prefer not to consume toxic chemicals ourselves, and many of us also consider the effects that conventional agricultural chemicals can have on the earth and on the people who grow, harvest and process our foods.

On the other hand, organic foods are often more expensive than conventionally grown foods, which has led the Environmental Working Group to compile their annual list of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’.

If you are shopping on a budget and you can’t afford to buy everything organic, the thinking goes, then at least avoid conventionally grown items on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list. Conversely, if your budget requires you to cut corners, their recommendation is to go ahead and buy conventionally grown items from the ‘Clean Fifteen’ list.

And while there is some practicality to this way of thinking – after all, we should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good – this calculation only takes into account the levels of pesticides carried forward on (and inside!) produce after harvest.

What it fails to account for is that... Yes! Organic vegetables have more nutrients than their conventional counterparts.

Now, before you dismiss this claim as a rumor, let me explain exactly why it’s true.

Why do organic vegetables have more nutrients?

One of the miracles of plants is that they can turn sunlight into sugar through the process of photosynthesis. Each leaf is like a little solar panel for a plant or tree, and the sugars they produce are its battery.

Plants and trees not only store up sugar for themselves, they also share their extra energy with the other organisms around them.

They way share is by pumping some of their extra sugar down through their roots and into the soil.

Healthy soil contains a wealth of living organisms: uncountable numbers of microscopic bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, and other tiny multicellular organisms (as well as numerous insects, nematodes and worms that are visible to the naked eye).

Let’s look at just one organism: the bacteria in the soil.

Do organic vegetables have more nutrients

Many of us instinctively feel that bacteria are harmful and should be avoided, but the soil-dwelling bacteria that surround a plant’s roots are very helpful – both to the plants and to ourselves.

These bacteria eat up the sugars that have been deposited into the soil by the plant. When soil bacteria digest plant sugars, they release acids as a metabolic byproduct of their tiny meal. Those acids chelate the minerals in the soil, transforming them into micronutrients that are bioavailable to the plants.

Then, the plants take the micronutrients back up through their roots and send them all over the plant, including sending them into the fruits and vegetables they are producing. This completes the symbiotic cycle of plants helping bacteria, and bacteria helping plants.

Do organic vegetables have more nutrients

So what happens when chemical pesticides and insecticides are applied to plants?

These chemicals are powerful killers, but they are not highly targeted, meaning they might kill a pest on a plant that would reduce a food harvest, but they also kill a lot of other living beings in the process – including killing the microbiota in the soil.

When the living soil ecosystem is disturbed, the process by which a plant can uptake nutrients from the soil is also disturbed. The total nutritional content of the fruits and vegetables that a plant can produce will decline along with the declining health of the soil.

What can we learn from organic vegetables having more nutrients?

In the words of Scientific American, “Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.” (1)

While this particular cycle of plant & bacteria symbiosis is just one snapshot of the larger and multi-faceted picture of our agricultural system, it’s certainly an interesting snapshot, because it also gives us some insight into what’s going on inside our own bodies.

When the bacteria in our guts digest their food, they also enhance the bioavailability of the nutrients we’re trying to digest. The same concept applies inside ourselves as in the soil –

We feed and care for our gut bacteria, and our gut bacteria feed and care for us.

When our gut bacteria are healthy, “they produce a variety of vitamins, synthesize all essential and nonessential amino acids, and carry out biotransformation of bile.” (2)

An unhealthy gut ecosystem leads to poorly digested foods and poor nutrient absorption, along with a cascade of numerous secondary health effects, including a weakened immune system, increased susceptibility to allergies, inflammation of the gut itself and inflammation of the body at large, and an increased risk for metabolic diseases. (3)

A weak microbiome spells double trouble for the gallbladder.

Firstly, the health of the gallbladder can be impacted directly when gut microbes fail to transform thick, sludgy, toxic, stone-forming bile into healthy, thin, water-soluble secondary bile acids.

The gallbladder can also face added pressures when a weak microbiome leads to obesity, diabetes, and other manifestations of metabolic syndrome.

All of these conditions present risk factors for gallstone disease. (4)

Do organic vegetables have more nutrients

What’s the takeaway from all this?

Firstly, when considering whether to purchase organic produce, it’s important to think of the big picture: not just choosing fruits and vegetables in terms of whether pesticides and herbicides might get into your own body, but also considering the effect those chemicals might have on current and future harvests and the nutrition in our food.

Of course, shopping on a budget is always tricky. Fresh produce of any kind will always be healthier than processed foods, and when hard choices have to be made, the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen offer you some practical guidelines. But if your budget allows for it, organic is not only the safer but also the more nutritious option.

Secondly, consider cultivating your internal microbiome the way an organic farmer cultivates the soil. If you suspect your gut bacteria are not as robust and thriving as they could be, supplementing with a probiotic is a great move – but that’s not all.

If you want to give your probiotic the best possible chance of successfully colonizing in your gut, then send them off to their new home with the proper food. The healthy microbes you want thriving in your gut can only succeed when you feed them plant fibers and polyphenols.

If you’re not already in the habit of eating a rich and varied diet of plants, then adding a prebiotic fiber into your daily regime is a good idea, and so is supplementing with polyphenols.

If you’re not already in the habit of eating a rich and varied diet of plants, then adding a prebiotic fiber into your daily regime is a good idea, and so is supplementing with polyphenols.

We’ve put together a Weight Loss Booster Kit that allows you to cover all these bases with one simple order (probiotic, fiber, and polyphenol) – and we stand by this combination for anyone seeking to improve their gut health, whether or not you’re trying to lose weight.

However, we do have a selection of products that you can mix and match, depending on your needs.

The GLP-1 Probiotic is an excellent support for those people who struggle to eat smaller meals, reduce snacking and to block out the ‘food chatter’ in their mind.

But if your primary concern is reducing inflammation and improving the quality of your bile, then our Akkermansia probiotic is a more focused choice.

When it comes to prebiotic fiber, we offer PectaSol modified citrus pectin in powder form, which you can stir into water and make a light lime flavored beverage. But if drinking fiber is not your jam, we also carry PectaSol in capsule format.

Lastly, we love combining Quercetin with either of our probiotics because of a recent study which showed that a combination of Akkermansia and Quercetin effectively reshaped the gut microbiota, decreased insulin resistance, and improved secondary bile acid metabolism (5), and another study which showed a GLP-1 analogue in combination with Quercetin had a similar effect. (6)

But we also stand behind our Fermented Beet Roots, which not only provide plant polyphenols but also work directly on thinning the bile. So we wholeheartedly recommend you to pair either probiotic you select with either one of these supplements, or take them both!

Click Here Now to Shop Supplements

 

Want Gallbladder News & Health Tips Delivered Straight To Your Inbox? Sign Up Here!

 

References:

1. Roddy Scheer and Dound Moss, “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?” Scientific American, Published 27 April 2011, Accessed 25 March 2024 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/

2. Bull, Matthew J, and Nigel T Plummer. “Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease.” Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.) vol. 13,6 (2014): 17-22. Accessed 25 March 2024 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566439/

3. ibid.

4. Méndez-Sánchez, Nahum et al. “Metabolic syndrome as a risk factor for gallstone disease.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 11,11 (2005): 1653-7. Accessed 25 March 2024: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4305948/

5. Juárez-Fernández M, Porras D, Petrov P, Román-Sagüillo S, García-Mediavilla MV, Soluyanova P, Martínez-Flórez S, González-Gallego J, Nistal E, Jover R, et al. The Synbiotic Combination of Akkermansia muciniphila and Quercetin Ameliorates Early Obesity and NAFLD through Gut Microbiota Reshaping and Bile Acid Metabolism Modulation. Antioxidants. 2021; 10(12):2001. Accessed 25 March 2024 https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/10/12/2001

6. Hanaa H. Gaballah, Soha S. Zakaria, Shorouk E. Mwafy, Nahid M. Tahoon, Abla M. Ebeid, Mechanistic insights into the effects of quercetin and/or GLP-1 analogue liraglutide on high-fat diet/streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetes in rats, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Volume 92, 2017, Pages 331-339, ISSN 0753-3322, Accessed 25 March 2024
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332217312763