A study from the University of Washington School of Public Health and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives is among the first to accurately predict a person’s pesticide exposure based on facts about their usual diet. The research has found once again that eating organic foods will lower intake of toxic pesticides sprayed on our food supply.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables used to be enough to ensure great health, but for those who choose not to consume organic, they may be startled to find out just how many pesticides and herbicide they are ingesting with that Vitamin C and fiber.
The Washington study found that among individuals eating similar amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower levels of organophosphate (OP) pesticide exposures than those who were eating conventionally-grown (pesticide laden) produce.
Lead author, Dr. Cynthia Curl, who conducted her research while a PhD student at the School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences said:
“For most Americans, diet is the primary source of OP pesticide exposure. The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference in the levels of pesticides in our bodies.”
Curl and her colleagues analyzed the dietary exposure to pesticides (namely organophosphates) of nearly 4,500 people from six U.S. cities. The study included data from the “Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis,” a large, multi-institutional project funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that is investigating factors that influence the onset of cardiovascular disease.
Organophosphates (OP) are one of the most widely used types of pesticides in the Big Ag model.
The researchers predicted each participant’s exposure to OP pesticides based on the amount and type of produce each participant typically ate and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measurements of pesticide residue levels on those foods. They then measured pesticide metabolite levels measured in urine samples from a subset of 720 people.
“If we can predict pesticide exposure using dietary questionnaire data, then we may be able to understand the potential health effects of dietary exposure to pesticides without having to collect biological samples from people. That will allow research on organic food to be both less expensive and less invasive.”
The study is complimented by previous research finding that participants who ate an 80% organic diet had 89% less pesticide residue in their urine compared to eating conventionally grown produce.
Lower levels of dialkylphosphates (DAPs), a non-selective organophosphate metabolite, was found after only a week long change in diet in this most recent study. Participants who ate a conventional diet (full of pesticide-riddled, GMO foods) had high levels of DAPs, and those who consumed organic food enjoyed a much lower level of this one marker for toxicity.
If there is ever a time to self-test an organic diet, now is the time.