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Pesticides = Poor Health
It has been shown that the toxins in our food greatly increase our overall toxic burden to a point where they become a major contributing factor in human disease. In fact, some experts have equated our modern food supply with a slow poisoning.
Pesticide use has steadily increased in modern times. After World War II, chemical warfare companies switched over to agriculture and began using their chemicals as herbicides and pesticides on our crops.
Studies have shown long term exposure to these chemicals has resulted in infertility, birth defects, endocrine disruption, neurological disorders and cancer. Particularly worrisome, is the toxic effect on the reproductive systems of women wanting to get pregnant, pregnant women and on young children.
Why are we eating pesticides?
A major problem is that 80% of genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops are actually designed for use with these chemicals. They go hand-in-hand. Chemical companies own GE seed companies. An estimated 7.7 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year.
Making better choices
These chemicals are sold to us under the guise of increasing yields and lowering costs but research shows otherwise. Less toxic techniques such as IPM (integrated pest management), crop rotation and installing pest traps have shown an increase in crop yields and a decrease in pesticide use.
Consumer Report suggests that certain foods should always be organic. These include: peaches, strawberries, bell peppers, tangerines, cranberries, carrots, green beans, hot peppers, nectarines and sweet potatoes. Also, animals fed pesticide laden foods, will bio-accumulate these toxins so that foods that come from an animal should also be from pesticide free sources. For more on buying organic, please see tip on choosing organic foods.
What’s wrong with coffee?
If you depend on coffee to get you going in the morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up, you could be suffering from adrenal dysregulation. Caffeine too late in the afternoon can disturb sleep which affects brain health, weight management and our body’s detox and repair. Coffee is also a diuretic and can be dehydrating, especially if you drink coffee instead of drinking water. Caffeine can also raise stress hormone levels like cortisol which make us store fat (particularly in our mid section). Caffeine can also interfere with thyroid medication if taken at the same time.
Benefits of coffee
On the other hand, …recent studies have found that caffeine containing beverage such as tea and coffee have certain health promoting benefits. Coffee is North Americans #1 source of antioxidants. This isn’t because coffee is the most highly antioxidant food, but because of the sheer amount of coffee we drink. Some of the health benefits found include: reduced stroke risk, lower rates of heart disease, lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, lower risk of heart rhythm problems, increased blood flow to blood vessels, lower risk of premature death, lower risk of Parkinson disease, lower risk of heart disease.
One man’s food is another man’s poison
Some experts even tell us caffeine’s effects on the body are not the same for everyone. We all have the gene CYP1A2 which helps break down toxins. This gene comes in two types, 1A and 1F. If we have the 1A version of the gene, coffee reduces our risk of heart attack. But if we have the 1F version, coffee increases our risk of heart attack.
To receive the benefits from drinking coffee and to minimize the negative side affects experts warn to choose our coffee wisely.
In order to receive health benefits from coffee the quality of the coffee must be considered. According to Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Coffee, most studies which show that coffee is unhealthy, do not control for the production process behind the coffee. Different processing methods introduce radically different amounts of potent toxins into the coffee.
Asprey asserts, good coffee = good performance. Bad coffee = bad health.
“Clean” coffee needs to have minimal contamination from mycotoxins (mold toxins). Coffee is also one of the most heavily sprayed crops. Most conventional coffee is contaminated with pesticides. Ground coffee is also prone to rancidity. Adding dairy to our coffee can interfere with some of the beneficial effects. Sugar in our coffee only adds to the likelihood of developing insulin resistance. White, chlorine bleached coffee filters can leach into our coffee.
Some attributes of a good quality coffee are that it is: tested for mycotoxins, organic, fair-trade, freshly ground (not pre-ground), and dark roast.
Limit coffee intake
Besides the quality of the coffee, Asprey goes on to say:
High amounts of caffeine can cause problems such as decreased insulin sensitivity, impaired brain function, jitters, nervousness, stomach discomfort, and decreased exercise performance. As with any drug, you can overdose. Moderate amounts of coffee will do nothing but good for most people.
Experts suggest limiting our coffee intake to 1 or 2 cups in the morning and switching to green tea in the afternoon. Coffee should be strictly avoided for pregnant women. As with coffee, the quality of green tea that we choose should be carefully considered. Many green teas from China are contaminated with lead. Japanese green tea is a better choice. Tea also readily absorbs fluoride from the soil it is grown in which can be a problem for those with thyroid dysregulation.
And as mentioned before, when we need that morning cup of coffee to get us going, we may be dealing with much bigger issues. Limiting coffee, restoring our adrenals and getting our hormones in balance should be the first line of business.
Only crazy people buy organic, right?
When I first saw a person filling their cart with overpriced, organic produce at the health food store, I thought they were crazy. Years later, that crazy person and I became friends and I became the crazy person filling my cart with organic produce. So what changed in my understanding between then and now that made me want to spend my hard earned money on organics?
Reasons to choose organic
Why, when studies have shown that organic and conventional foods have similar levels of of nutrients, would I be willing to dish out the extra dough? The reasons are many. Below is a brief look at some of the reasons to choose organic over conventionally produced foods:
- studies have shown that organic produce contains considerably more antioxidants
- organically grown foods better maintain the integrity of the soil and the diversity of microorganisms. These microorganism maintain the soils healthy ecosystem and make nutrients in the soil bio-available to the plants, making healthy more diseases resistant plants. The plants then pass the nutrients on to us when we eat them. Conventional practices destroy this ecosystem.
- Pesticides are used in the production of conventional fruit, vegetables, wheat, corn, grain products and livestock feed.
- Pesticides bio-accumulate up the food chain in animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish.
- Pesticides have toxic effects on the body linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues and damage to unborn children.
- Pesticides are antibiotic in nature and disrupt our gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and physical and mental ailments.
- Conventional agricultural practices can cause toxic run off from fields, contaminating water ways and wildlife.
- According to the Environmental Working Group, conventional produce most heavily laden with pesticides include: strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, celery, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. But it is the potato that boasts most pesticides by weight than any other produce.
- Illegal pesticide residues are three times as likely to be found in imported produce. Notice where your produce is coming from.
Do we always need to choose organic?
Other options are available to us other than just having to buy everything certified organic. Some of these options include:
- harvest wild edibles
- grow your own garden
- buy from a local farmers’ market where produce may not be officially organic but comes from a local “pesticide free” or “no spray” farm.
- wash all your produce thoroughly in a sink of water and hydrogen peroxide to pull pesticides and pathogens off the surface. (Note this is only a surface treatment.)
- Peel produce to reduce surface contamination (although much of a fruit or vegetables nutrients and antioxidants are in the peel).
- Vary your intake of different produce and sources.
- When buying conventionally produced fruits an vegetables, stick to the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen including: avocados, [non-GMO] sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, [non-GMO papayas], kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. Of these, avocados were the cleanest.
Tags: antioxidants, Certified Organic, Clean Fifteen, Conventional Agriculture, Dirty Dozen, Ecosystem, Environment, Environmental Working Group, Farmers' Markets, Fruit, Gardening, Local, Microbiome, Organic, Pesticide Free, Pesticides, Soil Microorganisms, Vegetables, Wild Edibles