Stop Eating Pesticides: Why Your Produce Choice Matters
When you eat your fruits or prep your veggies for your dinner salad, you should be able to do so without much thought of how your food might be poison to you.
Eating plenty and a variety of fruits and vegetables is a crucial component of good health, according to nutritional science, but sometimes produce comes with harmful levels of pesticides that can seriously affect your health.
More than 80 percent of Americans already fall short of the recommended amounts: at least 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits per day for most adults. So, the solution isn’t to eat less, but to eat smart. This means choosing produce and eating fruits and vegetables that are grown with fewer and safer pesticides.
Don’t Panic, It’s Organic!
This points to buying organic produce. Organic standards permit some pesticides, but they can be used only after non-chemical methods like crop rotation have failed. Even then, pesticides that could be harmful to people or the environment can’t be used.
However, organic can cost more so it is not much of an option. Low-income families can barely afford regular fruits and vegetable, what more with organic. Still, almost half of the non-organic fruits and vegetables rated by Consumer Reports pose little risk.
How Do Pesticides Affect Your Health?
According to Devon Payne-Sturges, DrPH, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park, “Pesticides are chemicals that are specifically designed to kill living organisms”.
The Environmental Protection Agency says agricultural pesticide exposure is tied to asthma, bronchitis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, and prostate and lung cancers.
A 2019 study in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that people highly exposed to pyrethroid pesticides were three times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease during the 14-year study than those with less exposure. Children that were exposed to organophosphate pesticides were more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, according to a 2010 study in the Journal Pediatrics. In 2016, an analysis in Scientific Reports discovered the link between pesticides and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Pesticides can also disrupt the endocrine system, which is made up of hormones, according to studies, which affect the glands that produce them, and the body receptors that respond to them. This has been thought to contribute to some cancers and other health problems. And because this system is delicate, even small amounts of endocrine disruptors could have outsized effects, says Michael Hansen, Ph.D., CR’s senior scientist.
Reduce your overall health impact from pesticides and choose produce that has little to no exposure to pesticides. Remember, we are what we eat, and our behavior along with our health gets affected by the stuff that we put inside our body.
Editor’s note on the studies regarding Pesticides and their Health Risks:
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