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toxic stew

Part 2: Living In A Toxic Stew & Staying Healthy

toxic stewAmericans live in a constant state of toxicity that negatively impacts our already complicated chronic illness lives. We enter this toxic stew whenever we drink unfiltered tap water, eat non-organic, pesticide-heavy food, apply personal care products and makeup–even when handling those thermal receipts.

Our bodies don’t know what to do with the toxins, so they are warehoused in our fat.

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Many chemicals found in non-organic foods and personal care products mimic hormones. This is at the root of why it is so hard for millions of us to lose weight and makes it almost impossible if we also take prescription drugs that have weight gain as a common side effect.

This part of a multi-post series deals with eliminating as much pesticide residue as possible from our vegetables and fruits. Even organic foods may have pesticides used during the growing season. The difference is insecticides used on organic farms are found in nature and in many cases are less toxic than those used in conventional agricultural practices. (Pesticide includes herbicides used to kill weeds, fungicides to kill mold and insecticides to kill insects.)

Eat Organic Whenever Possible

Even though organics can have pesticide residue, we still should eat organic foods whenever possible. Ideally, grow your own food in pots or a garden.  Now that there are new cultivars of berries, they can be conveniently grown in a pot on the porch. Try to always eat the organic version of foods on the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen list of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed foods.

An easy way I remember what to buy organic is knowing that the fruits and vegetables hubby and I like are all full of pesticides. Take a look at the EWG’s shopping guide.

It used to be thought that fruits that are peeled, like bananas, have minimal pesticide residue under the peel. Modern testing shows that is not true. Bananas, like many of our food crops, is grown in a monoculture where there are devastating infections and insect damage from the same crop in the same place year after year. The pesticides used today penetrate well into the fruit beneath that hard peel. Don’t fall for the stories about using banana peels to increase potassium in the garden. These peels are toxic!

How To Reduce Pesticides

recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found a better alternative–a baking soda solution–to scrubbing the outside of vegetables and fruits with plain or soapy water. Gala apples that soaked in baking soda at a ratio of 1 tsp for every 2 cups of (filtered) water for 10-15 minutes had significantly reduced pesticide residue on the surface. However, no wash will remove pesticides that have moved past the peel and into the fruit.

Here’s a quick way to wash leafy greens:

  • Fill a Salad Spinner with greens, then fill with cold water
  • Add a teaspoon of baking soda for every two cups of water and mix well
  • Soak your greens for about five minutes, swish, dump, then rinse, and spin dry
  • If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can add the greens, water, and baking soda to a bowl, let them soak, drain in a colander, rinse, then pat leaves dry with a clean lint-free kitchen towel or paper towels

To wash other vegetables:

  • Fill a large bowl with water
  • Then add a teaspoon of baking soda for every two cups of water
  • Add the veggies
  • Soak for a 10-15 minutes
  • Scrub with a Vegetable Brush 
  • And finally, rinse off the veggies

Smooth skin fruits get the same treatment

Smooth skinned fruits, such as apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, and cherries, can be washed in a baking soda bath the same way as veggies.berries

Your instinct may be to soak berries in the same baking soda wash when you bring them home. However, doing this actually increases moisture and accelerates spoilage, microflora, and mold growth.  It’s best to rinse soft fruits like berries just before you eat or cook with them. 

Rinse berries under cold water in a mesh strainer, or colander, then gently patted dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels just before you intend to eat them. This means there is no practical way to remove even a quarter of the pesticide residue on berries before eating them. Always, always and, let me repeat, always buy organic berries for this reason. 

Blueberries are high in antioxidants which are tied to protective health benefits. In total, domestic blueberries in a 2012 joint EWG and CBS news report tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues, and 73 percent of the blueberries contained two or more pesticides.

Strawberries earned the fifth spot on the 2012 “Dirty Dozen” list because, on average, this traditional summer fruit contained three pesticide residues. A single strawberry sample contained 13 different types of pesticides five years ago, according to the group. In 2017, strawberries are Number One for pesticide residue. When farm workers have to wear a hazmat suit and breathing mask to apply pesticides to strawberries, there is something very wrong with our food supply!

These solutions–baking soda wash and buying organic–are not a guarantee of eliminating all chemicals to provide you with a pesticide-free snack. They are just a lot better than the alternatives.

Coming up next is a look at the health benefits of organic food.

What about you? Are you among the millions who believe companies that produce and sell our food have your health as their foremost concern?

Part 1 of Living In A Toxic Stew

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