Eating for Health Isn't Extreme; It's Essential

We live in a toxic environment. Even the good ole’ fresh country air isn’t what it use to be. Not long ago I was riding my bike in a nearby rural county, and a crop dusting plane flew overhead and began spraying a cornfield in the distance. I turned around to avoid the residue, but then the plane circled and came my way to spray another field.  

I grew up on a farm, and one of the highlights of summer was creating makeshift rafts to float in flooded soybean fields after a heavy rainfall; giving no thought to the poisonous, chemical run-off from the fields that would’ve been in the water. 

Even suburban housing additions are full of toxins as chemicals are applied to well-manicured lawns. And, of course, cities have their own set of poisons floating around in the air; not to mention the toxic foods that many of us may have eaten since childhood. Our bodies have been, and will continue to be inundated with toxins in one way or other; unless one has the privilege of living on a pristine island in Utopia.

And that’s one of the many reasons why it’s essential for all of us to fully embrace the nutritarian diet-style.    

Every bite of food that we put into our mouth counts.

Although certain chemicals can damage the body, repair can most likely happen if we are healthy and not continually exposed to them.  Therefore, it's crucial that we eat right and minimize our exposure to toxins and chemicals. 

But it takes a firm and radical commitment.      

“It takes more than moderate changes to wipe out the cellular damage that happens earlier in life.”   Dr. Fuhrman

We must turn a deaf ear to the naysayers that incorrectly and ignorantly believe that eating for health is extreme. And we must consume nutrients that build up our immune system, cleanse chemicals and toxins, and protect against disease.   

Following Dr Fuhrman’s nutritional protocol 100% to prevent the growth of cancer cells and disease is not extreme; it’s essential.

Here’s to optimal health to all!

 

Related post:  The 90 Percent Rule

 

Image credits: Crop dusting, flickr by chaunceydavid818; Pollution, flickr by ribamica

 

 

 

Pesticides commonly found on berries and other fruits may contribute to ADHD

A study in Pediatrics made a connection between exposure to organophosphates – pesticides used on berries and other fruit and vegetable crops – and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.1

Organophosphates kill agricultural pests by acting as neurotoxins in insects.  Excessive exposure to organophosphates in humans are now  known to have toxic effects. Children are thought to be most vulnerable because the developing brain is especially susceptible to neurotoxic substances. Organophosphate exposure during fetal development and the first 2-3 years of life has previously been linked to detrimental effects on neurodevelopment in young children, including behavioral problems and deficits in memory and motor skills.1,2 High levels of organophosphate metabolites have also been found in children with leukemia.3

Since dysfunctional acetylcholine signaling is thought to be involved in ADHD, and organophosphates act by disrupting acetylcholine signaling, scientists decided to investigate a possible link between organophosphate exposure and ADHD. The researchers pulled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2000-2004) on urinary metabolites of organophosphates in children 8-15 years of age. 

Their findings showed that children with higher than median excretion of dimethyl thiophosphate, the most common of the organophosphate metabolites, had double the risk of ADHD compared to children with limits below detection. This result is alarming, because it suggests that levels of organophosphate exposure common among U.S. children are capable of promoting ADHD – not just the highest levels of exposure.1

How are children exposed to organophosphates?

Since organophosphates are commonly sprayed on many agricultural products (including corn, apples, pears, grapes, berries, and peaches), diet is the major source of organophosphate exposure in children.  Insecticides used in and around the home are also potential sources, but diet is thought to be predominant. Forty different organophosphate pesticides are currently in use in the U.S., and based on 2001 estimates 73 million pounds of organophosphates are used per year.1

In 2008, the USDA conducted tests that found malathion (one of the 40 organophosphate pesticides) residues in 28% of frozen blueberries, 25% of strawberries, and 19% of celery.1 The Environmental Working Group has found that commercial baby food is the predominant source of organophosphate exposure in infants 6-12 months of age. For young children, the most common culprits are apples, peaches, applesauce, popcorn, grapes, corn chips, and apple juice.4

What can you do to limit exposure?

A study that switched children from conventional to organic foods found a dramatic decrease in urinary metabolites of organophosphates.5  You can reduce your (and your children’s) exposure to organophosphates and other potentially harmful pesticides by buying organic produce whenever possible, especially when buying foods that are most heavily laden with pesticides – celery, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, and grapes  rank among these high-pesticide crops. 

Read more about choosing produce wisely to minimize your family’s exposure to pesticides.

 

References:

1. Bouchard MF, Bellinger DC, Wright RO, et al. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides. Pediatrics 2010;125:e1270–e1277

2. Harari R, Julvez J, Murata K, et al. Neurobehavioral Deficits and Increased Blood Pressure in School-Age Children Prenatally Exposed to Pesticides. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Jurewicz J, Hanke W. Prenatal and childhood exposure to pesticides and neurobehavioral development: review of epidemiological studies. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2008;21(2):121-32.

3. Fallon Nevada: FAQs: Organophosphates. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/clusters/Fallon/organophosfaq.htm

4. Environmental Working Group. Overexposed: Organophosphate Insecticides in Children’s Food. http://www.ewg.org/book/export/html/7877

5. Lu C, Toepel K, Irish R, et al. Organic diets significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):260-3.

 

 

Which foods should we buy organic?

 

Safety

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causes. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma and cancers of the stomach and prostate.1 

The question remains, however, does the low level of pesticides remaining on our food present much of a risk? Some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and increased disease protection. The health benefits of eating phytochemical rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose. Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than to not eat them at all, but it is also wise to minimize our pesticide exposure. 

Environmental concerns

When we buy organic, we minimize our pesticide exposure, and we are also minimizing the amount of these pesticides that our environment is exposed to. Organic farming is clearly the more environmentally-friendly choice. According to the USDA, organic farming “integrat[es] cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Although organic cropland acreage in the U.S. has increased five-fold since 1995, organic cropland still accounts for only 0.57% of total cropland. Supporting organic agriculture will increase the demand for organic produce and decrease the percentage of farmland (and farm workers) exposed to potentially harmful agricultural chemicals.

Nutritional benefits

Organic produce usually has more nutrients – especially minerals and antioxidant nutrients – than conventional produce.  Organic apples, plums, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and corn have all been shown to have higher antioxidant capacities than their conventional counterparts. Organic strawberries were even found to have more anti-cancer activity than conventional strawberries! Scientists have theorized that when the plants are grown without pesticides, they are forced to deal with the stress of insects, which causes them to produce more antioxidant compounds, which are beneficial to humans.4,5 

The Environmental Working Group provides lists of produce called the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (highest in pesticides) and the ‘Clean 15’ (lowest in pesticides). These are their most recent lists.3   

 

Highest in pesticides – buy organic if possible:

 1. Celery

 2. Peaches

 3. Strawberries

 4. Apples

 5. Blueberries

 6. Nectarines

 7. Bell Peppers

 8. Spinach

 9. Kale

10. Cherries

11. Potatoes

12. Grapes (imported)

Peaches have the most pesticide residue of all fruits – 97% of conventional peaches test positive for pesticides, and as many as 53 different pesticides can be found on peaches. The most pesticide-laden vegetables are celery and bell peppers. Sixty-four different pesticides were found on bell peppers. Imported produce is also more likely to contain higher levels of pesticides.2,3 Choosing to buy these fruits and vegetables organically grown will help to protect us against the possible risks of pesticide exposure. If you do buy the conventional versions of these foods, it is best to wash them with soap and remove the skin before eating them.

 

Lowest in pesticides – buy either organic or conventional:

 1. Onion

 2. Avocado

 3. Sweet corn

 4. Pineapple

 5. Mango

 6. Sweet peas

 7. Asparagus

 8. Kiwi

 9. Cabbage

10. Eggplant

11. Cantaloupe

12. Watermelon

13. Grapefruit

14. Sweet potato

15. Honeydew melon

 

Buying organic is a wise choice – organic foods taste better, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.

 

References:

1. Sanderson WT et al Environ Res. 1997;74 (2): 133-144. 

Zahm SH, Blair A. Am J Ind Med 1993;24(6): 753-766.

Brown TP et al. Environ Health Perspect 114:156–164 (2006).

2. Reynolds JD. J Land Use Environ Law, 1997;13(1). 

Whitford F et al. Purdue Univ Coop Ext Serv p22, 1/17/05

3. http://www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php , http://www.foodnews.org/methodology.php, http://www.foodnews.org/sneak/EWG-shoppers-guide.pdf

4. .Grinder-Pederson L et al. J Agric Food Chem 2003; 51(19): 5671-5676.

Lairon D. Agron. Sustain. Dev.30 (2010) 33-41

5. Olsson ME et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Feb 22;54(4):1248-55.

Study Says Organic Food Not More Nutritious Than Regular Food -- UDPATE --

People buy organic for a lot of reasons. No pesticides or no chemicals—that’s a biggie—and some say it tastes better, especially organic fruits and vegetables.

Other people insist it’s more nutritious than traditional produce. Is it really? I’d like to think so, but a new study says it isn’t.

The research, appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and based on a review of data from the last 50 years, only found a very small number of nutritional differences between organic food and non-organics. Key highlights:

  • From a total of over 52,000 articles, there were 162 (137 on crops and 25 on livestock products) that met the researchers' first level of inclusion criteria but only 55 of these were of satisfactory quality and went into the analysis.
  • Conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher content of nitrogen.
  • Organically produced crops had a significantly higher content of phosphorus and higher titratable acidity.
  • There was no evidence of a difference among the remaining 8 crop nutrient categories.
  • Analysis of the few quality studies on livestock products showed no evidence of differences in nutrient content between those that were organically and those that were conventionally produced.

However, researchers say it’s difficult to provide a definite answer until longer studies have been completed. In the meantime, stick with organic food, at the very least it’s safer. Pesticides and chemicals certainly don’t help. Eek! 

UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman had some thoughts on this:

Lower nitrogen residue in the organic food is another important reason to eat organic that this study documented. The over-use of nitrogen fertilizers is polluting our oceans, removing ozone and damaging the ecosystem, plus excessive nitrogen compounds in the non-organic food is also not healthy.

Via Medical News Today.

Image credit: adwriter

Pollution is Shrinking Man, Parts...

Males of all species, from fish to mammals, are being feminized and not by reruns of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. According to a new report by the environmental charity CHEMTrust, a variety of common chemicals and pesticides are shrinking male genitals and causing abnormalities in the animal kingdom, like hermaphrodite polar bears and male fish developing eggs in their testes.

Scientists worry this could jump to humans too! Heavily polluted communities in Canada, Russia and Italy are already giving birth to twice as many girls than boys. And in the U.S. and Japan, research indicates 250,000 babies who would have been boys were born as girls instead. Female hormones from contraceptive pills reentering water supplies could be one reason why; The Independent reports.

Via TreeHugger.