November 24, 2016 · Written by Foodtolive Team
Pesticides in Food: What Are They and How to Avoid Them
Pesticides are toxic chemicals that are used to kill organic substances like fungi, insects, weeds, etc. Aside from agriculture, they are used in other parts of people’s everyday life, including anti-bug sprays used in schools and homes, and anti-fungi substances used in parks. Yet, pesticides in food are particularly dangerous, as they get to our bodies most often, and even a minimum exposure can cause serious health issues.
Farmers use these chemicals to secure their harvest, as different types of fungi and bugs can harm plants dramatically. But even though the main purpose of pesticides is to clean the environment from potentially harmful organisms, very often they become even more dangerous than the things they kill.
Dangers of Pesticides in Food for Human Health
The consumption of pesticides may cause different health issues, from mild poisoning, nausea, and headache, to reproductive function disorder, cancer, and endocrine system dysfunction. Besides, it makes acute issues including irritation, fatigue, etc. much worse or even lethal.
Pesticides and Cancer
Regular exposure to pesticides can cause different types of cancer. The most widely spread cases include brain, prostate, liver, breast, and testicular cancers, as well as non-Hodgkins lymphoma and leukemia. National Cancer Institute researchers have found that American farmers are vulnerable to different types of cancer, which may be connected to their pesticides exposure. The results were surprising, as farmers are considered one of the healthiest groups of people.
Pesticides and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
Ways to Reduce the Amount of Pesticides in Your Meals
Season-based dieting means eating foods that are in season. Nature gives us certain foods that are the most suitable for the season. Still, many people go to grocery stores and buy summer foods in winter, not thinking about the amount of pesticides in food they buy. Eating only seasonal foods will minimize your consumption of harmful chemicals, waxes, and substitutions that compromise the nutritional value of food, and will provide your body with freshness and vital elements without pesticides.
Eating in Winter
Winter requires us to eat heavier foods with immune-boosting qualities. A whole food diet would be the best, including grains, vegetables, and fruits. During this season you can find fresh kale, collard greens, carrots, winter squash, sweet or simple potatoes, leeks, and Brussel sprouts. Garlic and onions are also available fresh in winter, and they will work as a great immune system booster.
As for fruits, choose dates, tangerine, pear, and pomegranates. Sometimes oranges are also available, and along with tangerines they will provide your body with vitamin C to strengthen its resistance to diseases.
Eating in Spring
There are many spring fruits to choose from, but learn about fruit harvests in your area to know more. The most popular are strawberries, rhubarb, and lemons. Combine your healthy salads with healthy fresh herbs like mint and fennel, for better taste and nutritional value.
Eating in Summer
Summer is when people are the most active, and in a boiling heat you want to feel lighter and eat something that would cool you down. From vegetables, choose watery ones like fresh cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Fruits are abundant in summer, which means you will get the best nutrition from them. Choose fresh cherries, nectarines, watermelon, lychee, limes, and different kinds of berries. Make smoothies from them, add ice for more cooling effect, and avoid heavier foods.
Eating in Autumn
Autumn is the time of harvest, so there are plenty of dieting choices. Heavier foods like grains, seeds, and nuts will be the best protein base for your fall diet.
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Add root vegetables like carrot and potatoes, as well as squash like acorn or pumpkin. Also eat some fall fruits, such as apples, grapes, quinces, etc. These fruits are the most nutritious during this season.
Choosing Organic Foods
Organic products have to be raised without any usage of GMOs, pesticides, or any other harmful chemicals. This will contribute to your season-based diet, as different organic foods are available during certain seasons. Following our tips, you won’t have to overpay too much for organic products.
Avoiding Products with the Highest Chemicals Content
By learning more about products you buy you will know what foods to avoid in your diet. There are official lists of the cleanest products and those with the highest chemical content, so make sure to eat the right ones.
Washing Food Before Consuming
Even though many foods contain harmful substances inside, it’s possible to clean at least those pesticides that are on the skin of a fruit or a vegetable. Wash them thoroughly before consuming, but don’t use many detergents, as they will only contribute to your poisoning. There are special fruit and vegetable cleaners you can use for this purpose, washing foods with a soft brush and rinsing with warm water.
To Sum Up
Even though the main purpose of pesticides is to secure people’s food from pests, many of these chemicals are extremely harmful to people and make our environment only worse. It’s hardly possible to eliminate the exposure to them, but it’s possible to minimize their effect on human health. Following season-based dieting, washing fruits and vegetables, and buying organic products will contribute a lot into your non-chemical healthy life.