Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Food And Pesticides: The Dirty Dozen

Fruits and VegetablesThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit focused on public health. We know that the long-term consequences of eating chemicals from pesticides used on our foods is damaging to our health.

The EWG analyzed data from the FDA and found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the “Dirty Dozen” are eating 10 pesticides a day. We want people to eat more fruits and vegetables, but NOT to ingest more chemicals. Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. So what’s the answer? Rinse completely and buy the “Dirty Dozen” foods organic whenever possible. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Organic Food: Is It Better For You?

In 1952 Martin Gardner, who just passed away this week at the age of 95, wrote about organic farming in his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. He characterized it as a food fad without scientific justification. Now, 58 years later, the science has not changed much at all.

A recent review of the literature of the last 50 years shows that there is no evidence for health benefits from eating an organic diet. The only exception to this was evidence for a lower risk of eczema in children eating organic dairy products. But with so many potential correlations to look for, this can just be noise in the data.

Another important conclusion of this systematic review is the paucity of good research into organic food –- they identified only 12 relevant trials. So while there is a lack of evidence for health benefits from eating an organic diet, we do not have enough high-quality studies to say this question has been definitively answered. It is surprising, given the fact that organic food was controversial in the 1950s, that so little good research has been done over the last half-century. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Organic Food Not More Nutritious – But May Have Different Pesticide Exposure


I have been bombarded with questions about this new study released yesterday about organic food being no healthier than conventionally grown produce. The study is in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Organics have been growing in the marketplace at a very steady rate of about 20% for years. Are they worth the higher price tag?

This particular study was a review of scientific papers published in the past 50 years on nutritional quality of organic foods. They found that there was no statistically significant difference between organic and conventional produced foods in terms of nutritional value.

Many people were disappointed in this news, but remember that they just studied nutritional value. They did not address in this study the difference between pesticide and fertilizer residue, environmental impact, hormone levels, etc. When you make the decision of organic vs. conventional, there are many issues to consider.

If you want help making this decision, check out this link to the 12 “dirtiest” foods that tend to have the most pesticide residue and the 12 “cleanest” foods that have very little. Spend your organic dollars on the dirtiest and save your money on the cleanest.

The Organic Center has a different take on the study recently released and believes organic food does have higher nutritional quality, especially when talking about antioxidants. Read their response here. You can also link to their study from 2008 that found organic food with higher nutritional quality.

This post, Organic Food Not More Nutritious – But May Have Different Pesticide Exposure, was originally published on Healthine.com by Brian Westphal.

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »