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Organic Food: Dear Mr. President, Go Organic!

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What is amazing is that I wasn't the one to tell him this, nor was the first lady (although she quite likely already has). It was the President's Cancer Panel, working under the auspices of the National Cancer Institution. But, they were not just telling him to eat organic foods, they are recommending all of us "to choose, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers." This is not the Coalition for Alternative to Pesticides talking, but the President's Cancer Panel! (Be still my beating heart!)

Why are they saying this? And why are they sounding like they have been reading my book (Clean, Green and Lean)? Because they have actually been reviewing the same research that I have been studying for the last few decades. Multiple published studies have revealed the relationship of small daily doses of environmental toxins to health. In this case, the panel was looking directly at cancer risk.

There have been articles published over the last few decades showing that people who are exposed to certain pesticides, industrial chemicals and common air pollutants have higher rates of cancer. Dr. Devra Lee Davis published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994 where she revealed that the boomer generation had twice the rates of cancer as their parents had, and that these cancers were NOT related to smoking but to other environmental toxins.

The President's Cancer Panel showed particular concern around pesticide and other chemical toxin exposure in children (and rightly so). They talked about parents and child-care providers being more active in reducing a child's exposure to toxic compounds. They also recommended that prior to becoming parents, that both the mother and father-to-be reduce their toxin exposures (and I would recommend that they lower their load as well). When it comes to pesticides this is very important, since organophosphate pesticide exposure (the most commonly used pesticide type today) has been strongly associated with childhood brain tumors in children. The occurrence of these brain cancers is far higher in children whose parents use these pesticides in their home or garden. One of these pesticides, diazinon, is the most commonly used pesticide for roses and other ornamental garden plants.

Our defense against these toxins includes enzymes in our bodies that clear such pesticides from our bloodstream, but we don't all produce the same amount of enzymes. We all have many genetic differences, but about 50 percent of us have different genetic coding leading to lower levels of the enzymes that break down organophosphate pesticides in the bloodstream. When children with this genetic difference are exposed to these pesticides, the toxins stay in their bloodstream much longer and their rates of childhood brain tumors go even higher.

The easiest way for us to avoid exposure to these organophosphate pesticides (which came out of nerve-gas warfare in the 1930's), is to stop eating the top 12 most toxic fruits and vegetables. These are (in order beginning with the most toxic): Peaches, Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Lettuce, Imported Grapes, Carrots and Pears. See anything on that list that you regularly eat? For most of us, this list contains many of our most frequently eaten foods. So, if this includes you, then the first recommendation would be to spend a little extra for organic varieties of these foods. For those foods that can be peeled, this will reduce the pesticide load by about 95 percent! Your other option is to make an acid wash (more info on this is in the book: Clean, Green and Lean ) by mixing distilled vinegar with water in a bucket (about 10 percent vinegar), soak these fruits and veggies for a bit, and then scrub with a vegetable brush. Of course, that won't work well for strawberries or lettuce, so those you should just look for organic sources of.

As I wrote in my book Clean, Green and Lean, there are many very simple steps to reduce our daily exposure to all of the toxic chemicals that fill our environment. We don't need to be victims of our environment. We can reclaim our health! By taking active steps, we can prevent a number of health problems that are becoming more commonplace. Often these illnesses are seen as inevitable, sometimes they may even be prevalent in your family. But, by reducing your toxic load and living a healthier lifestyle you may very well avoid these problems. Do you really think it is a coincidence that the rates of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and autism have skyrocketed in the last 20 years as our world has become so polluted?

I will cover more about the President's Cancer Panel in subsequent blogs.

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