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Organic milk reduces eczema

A newly published scientific study shows that infants who eat organic dairy products, and whose mothers also consumed organic dairy products when they were pregnant, are 36% less likely to suffer from eczema than children who consume conventional dairy products.

Whilst there is a significant body of evidence showing that organic food contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients than non-organic foods, this is the first example of a definite specific health impact of organic food consumption being published in a peer reviewed journal.

Currently one-third of the children in Western societies show symptoms of allergies including eczema, hayfever and asthma.

Whilst the study confirms organic dairy consumption protects against the development of eczema, the scientists could only hypothesise why organic dairy foods deliver this protection. Their hypothesis follows the established facts of increased levels of the beneficial conjugated linoleic acid isomers (CLA) found in milk from organically managed cows. A separate recent study confirms that higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids are not only found in cows’ milk but also in the breast milk of women consuming organic milk. This therefore underpins the hypothesis that the higher levels of CLAs in the breast milk of organic milk drinking mothers are a key mechanism in reducing eczema, as well as the organic dairy diet of the infants themselves.

CLA’s are currently receiving much attention in nutritional research, as experimental evidence suggests these fatty acids might have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic and immune-modulating effects, as well as a favorable influence on the proportion of fat tissue to muscle mass in the body.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director said:
“The first peer reviewed scientific paper showing a significant health benefit from eating organic food is a major landmark. But the scientists’ findings of over a third fewer cases of eczema among children fits in with the experience of many people who eat organic food. Given the strong evidence that organic has more beneficial nutrients, and the absence of harmful additives, common sense suggests that organic food is better for your health. It’s good to see this starting to be confirmed by scientific research. These studies add to the body of evidence showing that the UK Food Standards Agency’s stance on organic food is out of date.”

The research was carried out by the Louis Bolk Institute and the Department of Epidemiology, Care and Public Health Research Institute (Caphri), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands in association with a number of other medical schools:; Respiratory Epidemiology and Public Health Group, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK; Department of Epidemiology, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, the Netherlands, Department of Medical Microbiology, University Hospital of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands; Department of Experimental Immunology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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