Organic Food Not Worth It? Fish Oil A Waste? What’s The Deal?

It’s pretty annoying, isnt it? All this conflicting information in the news, when all you’re trying to do is feel better, live longer, and not get some disease. And then the news tells you that what you’re doing is basically a waste of time. Well, let me clarify a couple of things (because you knew I was going to do that, didn’t you ;-) )

I’m about to have an article published at the end of October, talking about how to start dissecting research to see what’s valid and what’s not. And these two recent news items are perfect examples. Let’s start with the organic food.

Even in the article I read in the New York Times, they noted that this meta-analysis (which is normally better for results because it looks at many different studies, but if many of the studies are biased or skewed, which is estimated to be 90% of the time, then all it is is an analysis of incorrect research) only looked at nutritional value and not at the other reasons that people buy organic food:

  • much less pesticides
  • little to no antibiotics and hormones
  • wanting to support organic farming

Interestingly, they DID note that 38% of the conventional fruits and veggies had detectable pesticides, versus only 7% of the organic (you can get that simply from a neighboring crop). They noted that the organic milk had more Omega-3’s. The organic produce also had notably more phenols, which are beneficial against cancer. If these last two aren’t nutritional, then I don’t know what is.

What you’ll also notice is that none of THAT made it into the headlines!

And what about fish oil? This was another meta-analysis that came to the conclusion that taking fish oil didn’t make any difference to your health But before you ditch your Omega-3’s, there were several critical factors that didn’t get taken into account (but make a world of difference):

  • The short length of most of the trials
  • The generally poor cardiac health of the participants
  • Few studies used actual blood levels to test omega-3 status
  • Cardiac drugs (that most of the participants were on) can often mask omega-3’s benefits
  • Most trials relied on participants’ self-reported “compliance” with their assigned doses
  • The trials covered various countries and demographics, with widely varying diets.

Two studies simply estimated omega-3 intake based on reported seafood intake! And none of them took into account the dangerous cardiac effects of Omega-6 oils (like vegetable, corn, soy, etc.).

All of these factors can affect a study, and simply analyzing flawed studies gets you flawed results. Next time, don’t believe the headlines. Remember your common sense and don’t believe everything you read!