Whole Foods Don’t Always Mean Healthy Foods
Like many wellness experts, I often recommend that my clients just eat real food instead of focusing on one particular diet. By this I mean food that you might see at a farm and doesn’t need packaging. However, even the seemingly healthiest of foods come with risk. Especially noteworthy are pesticides and heavy metals in food. Below is a quick guide.
Pesticides in Food
Pesticides are abundant in the food supply. And especially relevant are organophosphates (like in RoundUp). These are the most broadly used class of pesticides, designed to destroy the nervous system of the target pests. Therefore, they can have a profound impact on humans at very low levels, resulting in:
- Chronic fatigue
- Reduced IQ
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral problems
- Increase ask of Alzheimer’s Disease
They are found in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and dairy products. Organic meats are required to be free of antibiotics and added growth hormones as well, so they’re a great choice. Check out the links below to Environmental Working Group’s guides. They will help you determine the most important produce to purchase organic, and which are the safest to purchase conventionally.
Heavy Metals in Food
Methylmercury is formed when elemental mercury is broken down in the environment. It’s typically what’s measured in foods, and is far more toxic than regular mercury. Methylmercury accumulates in seafood (and humans), and magniﬁes up the food chain. Therefore older, more predatory ﬁsh like shark, swordﬁsh, and tuna have much higher levels.
Methylmercury has been attributed to:
- Reproductive problems
- Breast cancer
- Birth defects
- Developmental issues
- Liver damage
- Immune suppression
- Endocrine disruption
You can avoid methylmercury by purchasing wild caught seafood, eating species of ﬁsh that are lower on the food chain (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines), and limiting tuna consumption. There are two helpful databases for determining the safety of certain seafood. You can use whichever tools feels easier to navigate:
The thought of pesticides and heavy metals in food you’re eating might feel discouraging. But you can ensure that you’re eating the best foods with just a little research. Try starting with one thing and gradually building. Go to your local fish counter and just look around.