Uncovering the Hidden Health Risks of Toxic Pesticides: What You Need to Know

Keep your family safe by learning how to reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides and the long-term health risks associated with them.

Health Risks of Toxic Pesticides

Every one of us has a toxic load in our bodies, and here's how to protect yourself.

For many years, I resided near a major city park. Signs would appear warning visitors of recent herbicide applications, much like dandelions blooming in the lawn.

This was a well-loved park where you could always find a swarm of youngsters and babies, dogs and their owners, and people of all types playing and relaxing in the grass—even after it had been sprayed with herbicides.

I assumed I'd be free of unwanted pesticide exposure once I moved to a rural mountain community. I was upset to find out that the local power provider sprayed herbicide beneath the huge network of powerlines each spring, giving me a higher risk of exposure to pesticides.

A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation found that over 90% of people living in California have detectable levels of pesticides in their bodies. These pesticides come from many sources, including food, water, and air.

While the health effects of these pesticides are still being studied, there is evidence that they can cause health problems, including cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological problems.

The fact is that no matter where you reside, whether in a city or rural area, you are constantly exposed to a range of pesticides via your diet, drinking water, and breathing air.

Pay Particular Attention to the Liver

Our livers, which are frontline defenses against pollutants like pesticides, ensure that these poisons are effectively and efficiently metabolized and eliminated from our bodies. However, for them to do their job well, our livers must be healthy.

First, avoid processed foods and oils (which will also lower your pesticide burden). Then, focus on consuming a high amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Finally, be mindful of your alcohol intake. Consider using these supplements to help your liver function properly.

Milk thistle is an herb found in a variety of ginseng products. It contains several chemicals that are already known to aid liver function. Milk thistle protects liver cells from oxidative and inflammatory damage, reduces fat accumulation in the liver, and promotes liver regeneration, allowing the organ to create new cells.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a precursor to the body's most powerful antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione plays a vital part in phase II detoxification, where it binds to hazardous chemicals to assist them to be eliminated from the body (glyphosate specifically depletes glutathione in the body. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which boosts glutathione levels, is one of the chemical components of glutathione.

Sulforaphane, a component found in particularly high amounts in broccoli sprouts, supports phase II detoxification. It also improves glutathione synthesis.

Quercetin has been found to have a liver-protecting effect in animal studies; it lowers both inflammation and oxidative damage. The impact of quercetin on the livers of rats exposed to a commonly used fungicide was examined in one study.

A fungicide was given to the test animals, and their livers were examined for liver enzymes (a sign of organ damage) and antioxidants, including glutathione and vitamin C. When quercetin was combined with the fungicide, however, the researchers found that “there was a significant protective effect on the liver”

Berberine is a natural product that has been shown to improve liver function by increasing the activity of enzymes that detoxify harmful compounds. Consider purchasing a water filter, air purifier, organic diet, and liver support supplements to assist your liver with its vital detox processes.

Replace your chemical-based cleaning solutions with natural ones (same goes for personal care products), and avoid utilizing chemical pesticides in your house and garden. Pesticides are unavoidable, but there are a variety of techniques we can use to decrease the toxic burden on our bodies.

Why Should Detox Matter?

Every year, approximately one billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United States. This includes herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides (just for agricultural usage). It does not include those used in public areas like parks or personal homes.1

Pesticides are present in the environment and we all have a burden in our bodies. According to one research, "More than 90% of the US population has detectable levels of pesticide biomarkers in their urine and blood."

Pesticide residues have been found in breast milk and umbilical cords, implying that pesticides are transferred from mother to child. So, why should this be a concern?

Pesticides have been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, autism, and attention deficit disorder, low birth weight in babies and neurodevelopment delays in children, asthma, hormonal dysregulation, which can lead to infertility and other reproductive issues; type-2 diabetes; and gut dysbiosis.

The gut-brain axis is a connection between the stomach, brain, and intestines. Certain types of bacteria in the body can cause an imbalance in beneficial and pathogenic bacteria that may harm the central nervous system via the gut-brain axis.  In other words, we are constantly being exposed to pesticides and they are linked to a wide range of health problems. We need to take steps to protect ourselves.

It All Starts With the Diets

Although we are exposed to pesticides in a variety of ways, the greatest source of exposure is the diet for most of us, making it the most simple and successful method to reduce our exposure.

Switching to a diet consisting of mostly organic foods has been shown in multiple studies to rapidly and drastically reduce pesticide residues in the body. In one research study that focused on young children, pesticide levels dropped to “unnoticeable levels straight after the introduction of organic diets and remained undetectable until the conventional diets were reintroduced.”

Another study studied the effects of an organic diet on pesticide residue levels in adults and discovered that eating an organic diet for at least one week reduced pesticide residues by up to 80 percent.

Finally, a 2019 study published in The Journal of Food Science found significant reductions in neonicotinoid pesticides, pyrethroid insecticides, and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) herbicides in urine samples after only three days of consuming organic food.

What distinguishes each of these research is the speed with which pesticide residues were reduced. If you're just getting started with organic farming, start with fresh fruits and vegetables — the US Pesticide Monitoring Program states that "fruits and veggies have a far greater proportion of detectable pesticides" than any other foods.

Another thing to consider is that glyphosate is frequently used as a pre-harvest drying agent on oats, legumes, and wheat. Because the pesticide is applied just before harvest, foods produced with these crops, such as granola, oatmeal, cereal, and hummus, can have greater concentrations of herbicides than are acceptable.

Organic standards forbid the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent, so by choosing organic you can be sure that these foods will not have any detectable levels of the herbicide.

How Can You Reduce Toxic Exposure?

There are many ways you can reduce your exposure to pesticides:

• Buy organic produce as much as possible. The USDA has a National Organic Program that certifies foods as organic. There are several organizations, such as the Environmental Working Group, that publish lists of the "Dirty Dozen" most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables and the "Clean Fifteen" least contaminated.

• Wash your produce well. Even if you are eating conventionally grown produce, you can reduce your pesticide exposure by washing it well.

• Avoid eating or drinking foods that are likely to be contaminated with pesticides, such as processed foods, fast foods, and those with a long shelf life.

• Filter your tap water. If you are not able to buy spring water or filtered water, consider using a home water filter.

• Avoid using pesticides in your home and garden. There are safe, non-toxic ways to control pests.

• Reduce your exposure to environmental pollutants. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and get adequate sleep to help reduce your overall toxic burden.

Pesticides in the House: Toxins in Plain Sight

Although you may not hesitate to keep a can of bug spray under the kitchen sink or a bottle of Roundup in the garage, regular pesticide use inside and around the home may result in long-term exposure for everyone living there, as well as potentially serious health problems down the road.

The study presented above looked at the connection between home pesticide use and Parkinson's disease (PD). According to the research, frequent usage of any home pesticide raised the probability of PD by 47 percent, whereas regular usage of pesticides including organophosphorus-based insecticides resulted in a 71 percent higher risk.

These dangers were not linked to the pesticides obtained elsewhere or at work. The case that glyphosate-based herbicides, like Roundup, cause cancer is growing stronger every day.

A 2018 meta-analysis investigated the glyphosate-exposure link and discovered that individuals with more time spent in agriculture were at a 41% increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

Household pesticides are widely used, with some research estimating that up to 90 percent of households use them. It's time to get rid of the chemical pesticides once and for all! Take steps to reduce your exposure to pesticides, and you'll be doing something good for your health and the environment.