A Melbourne university is studying the health effects of an organic diet through a online survey.
RMIT’s Organic Health and Wellness Surveyaims to identify whether people who eat organic food feel healthier as a result.
RMIT School of Health Sciences (Wellness Group) PhD researcher Liza Oates said information from the online survey would be crucial to ensuring that future research was relevant to Australian organic consumers.
“Much of the current research on organic food focuses on differences in specific nutrients but it’s difficult to confirm whether these differences are big enough to have a positive effect on human health overall,” Ms Oates said.
“About 25 per cent of people who took part in our Australian survey last year said that health-related issues – including allergic conditions, fatigue and concerns about general health and cancer prevention – influenced their decision to consume organic foods,” she said.
“And recent studies in the Netherlands showed 75 per cent of organic consumers reported health benefits after moving to an organic diet, including improvements in energy, psychological wellbeing, resistance to and recovery from illness, and gastrointestinal complaints.
“We want to know whether Australians who go organic have similar experiences.”
Ms Oates, who coordinates the Food as Medicine course in RMIT’s Master of Wellness program, said many of the health effects reported by organic consumers were likely to be explained by what was not found in organic food.
“The absence of chemicals like pesticides and additives may be just as important as any additional nutrients,” she said.
“Studies have found that higher levels of certain pesticides correlate with lower IQ and increased prevalence of ADHD in children, while eating organic food almost completely eliminates these chemicals.
“Our study aims to identify health effects that may warrant further research and will assist consumers in deciding whether organic food provides value for money.”