Michelle Schoffro Cook October 11, 2015
If you’re like most people you’re probably concerned about the quantity and types of toxic chemicals you’re coming into contact with regularly. And, for good reason: we’ve never in human history been bombarded with so many synthetic chemicals. The Industrial Revolution may have brought us many modern conveniences, but they have come at the price of chemical pollution. Some of the worst types of chemicals we face come in the form of pesticides. Even international authorities like the World Health Organization (WHO) has publicly stated that chemicals like glyphosate found in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup is a probable carcinogen.
While there’s no sure-fire way to eliminate all of these pesticide residues from our blood and tissues once we’ve been exposed to them, exciting new research indicates that we are not as helpless as we might think. A new study in the medical journal Environmental Health Perspectives showed that eating an organic diet helps to remove pesticides from the body. In other words, not only does eating an organic diet reduce a person’s intake of pesticides, it can help remove pesticides already inside a person’s body.
Scientists at the School of Public Health, at the University of California, Berkeley; the School of Public Health, University of Maryland; and the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, assessed the effects of an organic dietary intervention on young children in low income urban and agricultural communities in California. They assessed the children for 23 different chemical compounds that reflect exposures to various types of pesticides used in homes and for agricultural purposes. They found that eating an organic diet was significantly associated with reduced concentrations of compounds formed when the body attempts to eliminate pesticides.
So, why did they get these results? Well, the obvious first answer is that organic produce contains fewer pesticides, meaning that the body has less of a toxic burden in eliminating them, so there are fewer of the compounds formed when the body interacts with pesticides. These compounds are known as metabolites because they are byproducts of our body’s best efforts to metabolize these substances. But there are other reasons why the children who ate an organic diet would eliminate fewer pesticide residues in their urine: many toxic substances bind to fiber found in the diet, causing these toxins to be eliminated in the stool through bowel movements.
Additionally, the body uses nutrients in the process of metabolizing harmful substances. For example, sulfur compounds found in garlic and onions are used in a pathway in the liver known as sulfur conjugation, which is used to break down many chemicals in the blood before they can cause damage. And that’s just one of the body’s key pathways to address the toxic substances we encounter. There are many others such as amino acid conjugation, which requires the building blocks of proteins, known as amino acids, and more specifically taurine, glycine and glutamine.
Organic foods are rich in the nutrients that may help eliminate toxic pesticide residues to which we are all exposed through our food, air and water, thereby creating a possible second rationale for the results achieved by the scientists in this study.
Those are just two of the many reasons to eat organic food, not to mention it just tastes better. But, it’s great when great-tasting and nutritious food helps heal our bodies, too.