Doctors often tell us that to avoid getting sick we need to eat more fruit and veggies.
But the first study to examine the effects of pesticide exposure in the population at large -- testing kids across the United States -- has revealed that children exposed to above-average levels of a type of pesticide found on commercially grown fruit and vegetables are more likely to have ADHD than kids with less exposure.
The answer isn't to eat less fruit and veggies, of course -- it's to remove toxic pesticides from the food chain and our environment!
Exposure to the pesticides, known as organophosphates, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems in children in the past, but previous studies have focused on communities of farm workers and other high-risk populations. This study is the first to examine the effects of exposure in the population at large. Organophosphates are 'designed' to have toxic effects on the nervous system, says the lead author of the study, Maryse Bouchard, Ph.D., a researcher in the department of environmental and occupational health at the University of Montreal. "That's how they kill pests."
The pesticides act on a set of brain chemicals closely related to those involved in ADHD, Bouchard explains. "It seems plausible that exposure to organophosphates could be associated with ADHD-like symptoms."
So next time you buy fruit and veggies for your family, you can feel good about choosing organic over pesticide-sprayed. Better yet, if you can go to a local Farmers Market that offers sustainably grown food, you can enjoy the extra nutrients from truly fresh produce. Best of all, start to grow at least some of your own food; organic gardening has been shown to be healthy not only because of the good, fresh, local food you can enjoy, but also provides outdoor exercise, relaxes us and raises our mood while benefiting the environment.
This kind of ecotherapy is just what the enlightened doctors orders!