Avoiding Pesticides: Dirty Dozen Clean 15

At the highly successful Functional Medicine Conference last year, Dr Joseph Pizzorno, a leading doctor of Natural Medicine, spoke about the effects of POPS on our health.

The definition of POPs is: organic compounds resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. They bio-accumulate in human and animal tissue and bio-magnify in food chains. They consist of pesticides, solvents, industrial chemicals, plastics and fragrances etc.

Chemical Characteristics of POPs:

they have high lipid solubility (ability to pass through phospholipid membranes and bio-accumulate in fatty tissues)
their high molecular masses mean they are very toxic
collectively they have a dose dependent association with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, insulin resistant and diabetes, obesity, endocrine disruption (thyroid and sex hormones), cancer and neurodegenerative disease, parkinson's, prenatal effects and premature aging.

Exposure occurs through several routes but diet is estimated to be greater than 90% in children; 80% in adults.

Prenatal effects:

Higher levels of POPs associated with poorer cognitive scores (memory, processing speed, comprehension, and perceptual reasoning)
average deficit in IQ of 7 comparing highest to lowest quintile
25% of pregnant women in U.S. have levels exceeding the median in this study 

(Research: Bouchard MF et al, Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides and IQ in 7 -year old Children. Environ Health Perspect 2011 Apr 21. (Epub ahead of print)

A 2nd study showed that children with higher levels of POPs had up to 2x increased risk for ADHD, and the levels associated with risk were commonly found in the U.S. population among children.

(Research: Bouchard MF et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. Pediatrics 2010 Jun; 125(6):e1270-7)

So how can we reduce our exposure to POPs?

The first thing we can do is reduce our exposure by choosing organic fruits and vegetables and 'clean' cosmetics free of chemicals as well as natural cleaning products.

To help you, here is a list of the Worst Non-Organic Fruits and Vegetables i.e. those heavily laden with pesticides and therefore best to chose organic, and another list of those fruits and vegetables which are deemed as safe.  For further information visit: www.ewg.org  

Dirty Dozen

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Sweet Bell Peppers

4. Peaches

5. Strawberries

6. Nectarines

7. Grapes

8. Spinach

9. Luttuce

10. Cucumbers

11. Blueberries

12. Potatoes

(also green beans and kale)

Clean 15

1. Onions

2. Sweet Corn

3. Pineapples

4. Avocado

5. Cabbage

6. Sweet Peas

7. Asparagus

8. Mangoes

9. Eggplant

10. Kiwi Fruit

11. Canteloupe

12. Sweet Potatoes

13. Grapefruit

14. Watermelon

15. Mushrooms

Aim to choose from the lists above and you can prevent and possibly reverse the damage caused by these pesticides.  It always helps to combine elimination of dirty dozen with a 2-week detoxification programme including healthy foods and juices with targeted liver and colon supplementation. I'll be introducing a new detox programme in a few weeks. Let me know if you have any comments or questions, many thanks for reading, Kathleen