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Organic foods vs pesticides for long-term health outcomes?



Despite MANY suggestive observational epidemiology and laboratory studies, there is limited experimental evidence on a LARGER SCALE regarding the effect of organic diet on human health.


And, even though I am an avid advocate of organic food and organic farming practices, I am quite happy to admit that it is challenging to find unbiased reporting!


A case in point is a newer study published in the Environmental Research journal that revealed a 60% reduction in pesticide residues measured in people who switched from a conventional to an organic diet in just one week.


➡️ However - the study didn’t test for the kinds of pesticides permitted on organic foods which obviously does skew results somewhat.


There are also those that argue that a residual confounding factor persisting through ALL organic food studies is that consumers of organic food tend to have overall healthier lifestyles... hard to combat that in a study!!


Observational studies do unequivocally show organic eating reduces the risk of being overweight or obese, and animal and human studies have implicated conventional pesticide exposure to oxidative stress, inflammation, and weight gain.


🌿 What is important to know here is that "certified organic" produce is not grown with no pesticides, just different ones.


Conventional farmers use a bunch of chemicals (both natural and synthetic).


😬 There are currently over 10,400 listed synthetic pesticides for use by conventional farmers.


Organic farmers may also choose to use a (much smaller) bunch of chemicals, both naturally derived and synthetic.


Natural insecticides, which are also available commercially, contain chemical, mineral, and biological materials and can still have toxicity effects in humans. Examples include lime sulfur, pyrethrum, neem, spinosad, rotenone, abamectin, Bacillus thuringiensis, garlic, onion, cinnamon, pepper, and essential oil products.


Overuse or overexposure of any of these natural pesticides can influence a number of issues including hepatotoxicity, renal toxicity, hematotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and oxidative stress.


💗 What I have heard from organic farmers that I have personally spoken to is that one of their environmentally thoughtful goals of their organic farming practices is to choose the least-toxic approach possible to reduce environmental impact, and to limit use of synthetic pesticides to a last resort.


This ethos is really important when you consider that all soil, including farm soil, can be regarded as both an emitter and a receiver of environmental toxins.


🌏 Soil has the ability to release toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides and environmental pollutants into crops, groundwater and air.


As a receiver, it can pull in toxin residues from air, water or spraying. This is really important to consider as more and more scientific studies show the basically unlimited synergistic behaviours between, and exponential toxic effects, of heavy metals and pesticides together.


There are two ways a mix of pesticides could be dangerous. The first is if they have synergistic effects — that is, the result of the two or more chemicals together is different (and worse) than the results of each individually. The second is cumulative, the long-term exposure of low doses over time.


I will be unpacking this even further as we deep dive in to the many, many different factors that are at play in our environment that directly impact our digestive system, and our overall health and wellness.


There is SO much to consider when looking at, and treating, the WHOLE person in front of you!

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