18,000 ways your health is under attack
Is That Trip Through the Produce Aisle Eating Away Your Memories?
How many different pesticides do you think are in use today? More than 18,000. All licensed by the U.S. government.
It’s not just the number of pesticides in use that you should worry about. It’s the amount. Each and every year, industrial farms and other agricultural interests use more than 2 billion pounds.
That’s almost seven pounds for every individual in the country.
Whenever you go to the grocery store to buy produce—healthy, vitamin-rich, good-for-you produce—you increase your risk of exposure to pesticides … toxic chemicals that could eat away at your memories and cognitive function later in your life.
It’s so frustrating when even the foods that are good for you have been sabotaged. But, don’t worry… I share some suggestions at the end of this article that will keep you eating the foods you need for good health without compromising your brain or breaking your budget.
But first, let’s take a closer look at the problem.
Studies Link Pesticide Exposure to Alzheimer’s Risk
All the toxic chemicals that get sprayed onto crops every year eventually make their way into the soil. They leach into the water. Of course they’re in our food supply. And they take a bigger toll on your health than government bureaucrats let on.
Early studies show a link between pesticides and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Already, 5.3 million Americans live with this frightening disease. A half million new patients are diagnosed each year. And that number is growing. By 2050, scientists project that a million new cases will develop each and every year.
That’s a significant portion of the population struggling with basic mental capacity, requiring vigilant care and monitoring, either from loved ones or paid healthcare professionals … and often both. (Don’t get me started on the potential ramifications of Obamacare in this whole mess—that’s an article all to itself!)
It’s really no surprise that pesticides may harm the brain. Many pesticides work by attacking the nervous system of the pests they target. Over time and with enough exposure, they may attack your nervous system, too.
In one study, researchers found that people exposed to pesticides in the course of their jobs have a 53 percent greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study controlled for genetic disposition as well as a number of other factors.
Given the thousands of different pesticides that are used in the U.S. today, it’s difficult to know which specific toxins raise Alzheimer’s risk. That’s the next question that scientists hope to answer.
In the meantime, you can take steps to reduce your own exposure to pesticides and potentially lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
4 Easy Ways to Cut Out Brain-Damaging Pesticides
It’s impossible to completely eliminate your exposure to pesticides. They get into the soil and water. They even evaporate into the air.
But there is a lot you can do that will cut down on how much of these chemicals get into your system. And that may limit many of the health risks associated with them.
These four steps are an easy way to start:
- Thoroughly rinse all fruits and vegetables before you eat them. If the produce is tough enough, scrub it. If it’s possible to peel it, that will also help reduce the amount of pesticide you’re getting.
- Buy organic, but do it smart. I love organic foods … except the price tag. I don’t buy everything organic because it’s just too expensive. Instead, I purchase organic when I know that conventionally grown options have high levels of pesticide residue.
According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, you can reduce your pesticide exposure by 80 percent just by switching to organic for these 12 foods
- Cherry tomatoes
- Imported nectarines (if you can’t afford organic, buy local instead)
- Leafy Greens
If you can’t afford to purchase the organic versions, look for foods that will work as alternates … like using pears instead of apples or yellow squash instead of zucchini. If that won’t work, make sure you spend a little extra time when cleaning these fruits and vegetables.
- Drink filtered water. Produce is the most obvious source of pesticide exposure. But pesticides work their way into the drinking water, too. Water treatment facilities regularly test for some pesticides, but many go unmonitored. Using a water filter on your tap water can remove most pesticides, further lowering your exposure.
- Give your body a chance to detox daily. The best way to do this is to take a long break from eating each day. The simplest way to do that is to refrain from snacking after dinner. Between dinner and breakfast the next day, drink plenty of water and herbal tea, but don’t eat anything. This practice gives your body a chance to remove toxins—like pesticides—from your system.
The widespread use of pesticides can do real harm to your body… particularly to your brain and nervous system. But don’t let that scare you away from eating your fruits and vegetables. Just follow the precautions laid out here, and you can enjoy a healthy, produce-rich diet without forking out a bunch of extra money and without worry about the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.