Organic diets fly

Medical and scientific research is a delicate balancing act. For ethical reasons you just can’t intervene, or withhold resources, in human populations. While we also have obligations to nurture and support all species, it is also true that creatures like fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) allow us to do valuable research. As an example, a recent study on fruit flies has indicated that eating organic food can increase lifespan, improve fertility and generally improve health.

Fruit flies offer many benefits in terms of research. Due to their short lifespan, it is possible to evolve and study many generations of fruit flies in a relatively short time period. They also have much simpler systems, which are easier to study and manipulate, yet they still replicate aspects of more complex biological systems, even those of humans. There are also a number of technical advantages and you can study a large numbers of flies fairly inexpensively. Additionally, many of the genes present in fruit flies are present in humans. These genes often serve similar functions in fruit flies and humans, for instance fruit flies produce molecules similar to insulin. All of these qualities allow researchers to study human models of disease and health using fruit flies.

So, in this new study, fruit flies were fed extracts from food obtained from a supermarket. Some of them were fed only organic food extracts while others were fed non-organic foods. The extracts were from potatoes, soy beans, raisins and bananas.

The results showed that the flies fed organic extracts lived longer, had higher fertility and, over a lifetime, had more children. In general, they were healthier.

One interesting aspect of the study was that organic raisins did not offer these benefits and, in some cases, had negative effects. Overall, however, organic diets resulted in the flies doing much better on health tests. So, if you want better health and a longer life, it would seem prudent to go organic where you can, unless you want to fly in the face of science.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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