Diabetes Diet: Give Your Immune System An Organic Boost

For people with diabetes, the biggest benefit of eating organic foods may be the boost it can give to their immune systems.

Having high blood sugar strains our immune cells, and feeds the germs that instigate infection. This puts people with diabetes at risk for infections, and makes fighting them off problematic.

One way to boost our immune system is consuming plenty of antioxidants, those substances that protect our cells from free radical damage, lower the risk for infection, and help protect us from heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Various vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant compounds) function as antioxidants.

Organics and Our Immune System

A major study published by the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014, indicates organically grown crops, and foods made from them, contain 18 to 69 percent greater concentrations of antioxidants than conventionally grown crops.

The reason for higher concentrations of antioxidants in organic food is simple. Organic crops are not sprayed with pesticides, so they have to generate their own strong, natural antioxidant defense against pests and disease. The self-generated antioxidants that keep organic plants from harm are the same antioxidants that keep our cells healthy, and support our immune system.

Besides enriching ourselves with antioxidants, eating organic food cuts down on the ingestion of pesticide residue, antibiotics, and hormones. Organic farming is also healthier for farm workers, farm animals, and wildlife. It's beneficial for crop diversity, and the preservation of our soil and water.

Eating Organic On A Budget

Though it would be ideal to always buy organic foods they tend to cost more than conventionally grown items. However, we can use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Dirty Dozen list to guide our organic produce purchases.

The Dirty Dozen list is updated yearly, and it reveals the fruits and veggies most contaminated by pesticides. By buying these items from organic growers we can reduce pesticide exposure while enjoying the antioxidant benefits of organically grown produce.

The 2017 Dirty Dozen are:

  • Strawberries, cherries, grapes
  • Nectarines, apples, peaches, pears
  • Spinach, celery, sweet bell peppers
  • Tomatoes, potatoes

If you don’t want to commit this list to memory, a printable Dirty Dozen PDF is available at the EWG website (link below).

EWG also has a 2017 Clean Fifteen list. When tested, these conventionally grown items were the cleanest—having the least amount of detectable pesticide residue.

The 2017 Clean Fifteen are:

  • Asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Eggplant, frozen sweet peas, onions, sweet corn
  • Pineapples, papaya, mango
  • Honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapefruit

There’s also a printable PDF for the Clean Fifteen at the EWG site.

Buying organic food, when we can, promotes our family’s health and supports the well being of our planet now, and for future generations. “Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in,” writes Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet.

Sources: Very Well; Mendosa; British Journal of Nutrition; Clean Plates; EWG Dirty Dozen / Clean Fifteen lists
Photo credit: CinCool

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