By now you may have seen the Environmental Health Perspectives study that shows people who eat more organic foods exhibit lower OP pesticide levels than people who do not. Since we all know that organic produce doesn’t use those harsh chemical pesticides that conventional produce relies upon, this conclusion may seem a little bit obvious.
But there are a couple of things that make this study super interesting. Here’s how it went down. Cynthia Curl, assistant professor in Boise State University’s School of Allied Health Sciences, headed up the study with about 4.5k participants, who reported their organic produce intake on a scale of “rarely or never” to “often or always.” The researchers were able to accurately estimate people’s long-term OP pesticide exposure by comparing their self-reported organic eating habits with the produce’s OP residue levels from a national database.
Why is this study interesting?
Before this study, research about people’s dietary pesticide exposure was generally conducted by measuring DAP (dialkyl phosphates) metabolites in participants’ urine samples. These pesticide biomarkers tell scientists about peoples’ OP exposure, but collecting the data can be expensive, time-consuming, and invasive for participants. Now that this study has shown promise for measuring pesticide exposure using surveys, it offers potential for a lot more research to be done on the subject more efficiently and cost-effectively.
What exactly did the study show?
The biggest takeaway from the study was the major difference in pesticide levels between people who ate organic and people who didn’t. But what’s really cool is that the decrease in pesticide exposure of the “rarely or never” eat organic category to the “sometimes” eat organic category was about 25% (163 nmol DAP/g creatine vs. 121 nmol DAP/g creatine). Researcher Cynthia Curl explained, “Studies show that consumption of an organic diet–consisting of food grown without the use of most conventional pesticides, including OPs –can lead to a substantial and immediate reduction in OP exposure.”
How does this affect me?
Going organic can seem like a totally daunting task. Completely eliminating conventional produce from your diet may not be in the books for you right now; but as this study showed, small improvements in your lifestyle can lead to big improvements in your health. Pesticides in your system can contribute to a lot of illnesses, and may even be partially to blame for the uptick in ADHD diagnoses. If you focus on kicking out the major conventional offenders like The Dirty Dozen and eliminate other bad stuff like the conventional pesticides that you spray around your house and yard, you’ll be heading in the right direction for a detoxed body. So, head to your local grocery store (or preferably farmers market!) to pick up some of that healthy organic produce, and don’t forget to stock up on pest control before spring begins!