Pesticides – the hidden threat to human health
Children deal with unpleasant thoughts or images with a ‘see no evil ‘attitude. Monsters under the bed won’t get them if they cover their eyes. Then, we grow up. Still, when we see or hear unpleasant things via mass media, we may have the tendency to change the channel and the unpleasant thought is gone.
However, the realities remain. Most of us have not thought about DDT and other toxic pesticides for decades; after all, isn’t DDT dead and gone? Was it not banished to dark where vanquished monsters reside? If you shop for organic and non-GMO food products, you may consider worrying about DDT and its cousins as archaic as fearing the boogey man. However, in our previous blog we detailed the fact that DDT is still very much with us: in our food supplies, even in our body fat. DDT is also one of those infamous ‘xenoestrogens’, hormone-mimicking substances that can affect the sexuality of both genders and humans’ ability to reproduce.
Many of us are aware of the problems caused by toxic metals, but would not necessarily associate these metals with pesticides. However, these toxic metals can be used as a pesticides. Arsenic residues can be found in rice, vegetables, fruit, wine and beer. But arsenic is not limited to pesticide use alone. The FDA stated the following regarding 3-Nitro® (roxarsone), a previously approved drug for treating chickens:
“…a less toxic form of arsenic and the form present in 3-Nitro® (roxarsone)…could transform into inorganic arsenic…FDA scientists found that the levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro® were increased relative to levels in the livers of the untreated control chickens.”
The owner of the drug, Zoetis, Inc., voluntarily withdrew the drug application for Nitro-3® and announced that it would also discontinue producing Histotat (nitarsone), the last remaining arsenic animal drug on the market, by the fall of 20152.
The above are just a sampling of how pesticides and toxic metals can affect us. While world governments argue solutions, is there anything on a practical level that we can do to reduce our bodies’ load of toxic substances? One study conducted in 2004 revealed that seaweeds can remove toxicity from the soil by 80% in a timeframe of 6 weeks1.
Seaweeds have long been known to have ‘chelating’ effects, or in other words, the ability to bind and remove toxic substances from the body naturally. Unfortunately, if you live in the Western world, you are not very likely to ingest large amounts of seaweed in the diet unless you were culturally conditioned to do so. While visiting Korea some time back, I endeavored to eat the same meals as my hosts. Little squares of seaweed were always on the buffet-like spread on their table. Then, one would take a little sheet of seaweed and grab (or in my case, fumble with) rice or other foods, wrap them in the seaweed, and eat the little package. The routine never varied, whether the meal was breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There are other natural chelators in the nutrition world: cilantro loves to bind with mercury, aluminum and lead, and pectin from citrus and apples also bind metals. Is that why an apple a day keeps the doctor away? We would be well-served to explore the possibilities within the natural world for preventing or removing the toxic substances that enter our body every day.
1 Kantachote, D; Naidu, R; Williams, B; McClure, N; Megharaj, M; Singleton, I (2004). "Bioremediation of DDT-contaminated soil: enhancement by seaweed addition". Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology 79 (6): 632–8. doi:10.1002/jctb.1032.