Earth Day: Healthier Eating = Healthier Planet

By Dr. Ian Wahl

How do you think most Americans will celebrate Earth Day 2019? Talking up climate change? Cleaning up trash? Planting seeds or seedlings? Composting? Recycling? Bicycling or walking (instead of driving) to their local Earth Day Festival? Nice thoughts. But most Americans will be celebrating Earth Day just like it was any other weekday—eating processed and GMO foods, forgetting to recycle their plastic bags, and walking past the trash along the sidewalks.

On a day we are supposed to be celebrating the natural beauty of our planet and dedicating ourselves to keeping it healthy, the majority of Americans will spend their time and money ignoring their own health much less the health of the planet. Does that mean those of us who believe in the promise of Earth Day are wasting our time and efforts? Not at all—if we keep our perspective and not fall into nearsightedness.

I treat many people with food allergies and eczema triggered by foods. So, let’s look at eating healthy as one way to celebrate Earth Day. Have you heard of the Stanford University meta-study on Organic vs GMO foods? A meta-study is a statistical analysis combining data from multiple studies. Stanford University sifted through hundreds of studies and found certified Organic food to be nutritionally identical to GMO food.
That’s right. The scientists at one of the most celebrated and liberal universities in the world published that Frankenfood is just as nutritious as Organic food. Unfortunately, the Stanford meta-study “answered” questions that no one was asking. One question ignored is to ask if there is a difference in the bioavailability of those nutrients in Organic vs GMO foods. Besides, most people buy organic fruits and vegetables because they want to avoid pesticides/herbicides/GMOs and they buy organic dairy, eggs and meats because they want to avoid hormones/antibiotics/GMOs…and because organic food just tastes better.

Interestingly, the Stanford group said that they accepted no funding to do the meta-study so that their results wouldn’t be biased. However, they didn’t look at the funding of the studies whose results they were analyzing. An unbiased study of potentially biased results would be… what, exactly? Biased is the word I’m thinking. (Study Abstract: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685)

By the way, the study actually confirms that organic food is healthier for you and the planet than conventionally grown or GMO food. As the study itself concludes:
• Exposure to chemical pesticides was significantly lower in organic foods (roughly 30% less than conventional foods).
• Exposure to “superbugs” in meat (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) was also significantly lower in organic foods (roughly a 33% risk difference).
• The study conclusion states that “Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” Further evidence-based science indicates healthier personal choices makes for a healthier planet.
I like having food choices. I certainly don’t eat healthy all the time. I have been known to occasionally partake of Popeye’s Fried Chicken or Peanut Butter Cups. But a generation from now we will probably be wondering how anyone could really believe that there is no personal or environmental health difference between genetically-modified, pesticide-laden, hormone-bloated foods and certified organic foods. It’s easy to blame our politicians for ignoring the health of our planet. But if we don’t care enough about our own health, much less that of our planet, what makes us think Mother Nature will continue sustaining us? There is a reason we are experiencing an unprecedented increase in auto-immune diseases as well as allergies, sensitivities, and food intolerances right now. Our planet and our personal health are intimately tied.

Let’s celebrate Earth Day 2019 as a turning point in our individual lives—the day we decided our personal health and our planet’s health aren’t separate. We need to continue explaining how human activity affects climate change and what to do about it; continue shopping for healthier alternatives to eat; continue planting tree seeds and seedlings, composting, recycling, and cleaning up trash someone else left drifting in the wind. Our actions teach others more than our words. Mother Nature needs us to take care of her or she will not be able to take care of us. We merely need to change our perspective—because we are the answer, not just the problem.

Ian Wahl is the founder and medical director of St. Louis Allergy Relief Center, a holistic allergy and asthma clinic in Chesterfield, MO. For more information see www.StLouisAllergyRelief.com or call 314-384-9304 to reserve your spot at our next monthly Tuesday evening introductory lecture on how to relieve seasonal and chronic sinus, skin, stimuli, and food allergies.