So you’ve started to eat a healthy diet, but now you feel like crap. An upset stomach after eating a bunch of “healthy food” is a common symptom and is likely due to the drastic change in the amount of preservatives and pesticide residues you suddenly started eating. Most people are unaware of the amount of pesticides applied to crops, and the effects those chemicals can have on your digestive system. Sometimes the effects are immediate (like stomach pain, acid reflux, or irritable bowel syndrome), making it easier to self-diagnose. Chronic diseases can have an underlying cause stemming from these chemical residues that are difficult to pinpoint, and often result in serious problems like chronic inflammatory disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, compromised immune system, and more. Make sure to seek medical advice if you believe you are experiencing serious conditions.
One of the common causes of food intolerances is because of the pesticide use in our food supply. The use of pesticides in food production is to minimize crop waste due to insects and rot, and applied while processing foods to preserve freshness and extend shelf-life. After eating foods covered in these pesticides, the chemicals disrupt the gut microbiome necessary to break down food to absorb enough nutrients. When the normal flora of the gut bacteria is disrupted, people will often experience abdominal pain, stomach acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, stomach flu symptoms, or a change in bowel movements.
Chlorothalonil is one of the most used fungicide, and is commonly found in radishes, kale, celery, winter squash (like pumpkin), cilantro, peas, okra, cherries, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, apricots, cucumbers, basil, and carrots. In a recent study, the side effects chlorothalonil exposure increased the incidence of renal hyperplasia (enlargement) and tumors in male mice. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified chlorothalonil as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Even low-level exposure within the US EPA’s legal limits increases renal cancer risk.
Methoxyfenozide is an insecticide marketed under the trade name Intrepid 2F. Exposure to methoxyfenozide comes from residues on the following foods (in order from highest residue levels of 91% to lowest residue levels of 58%): apples, grapes, cottonseed (used for oil for salad dressings, vegetable oil for cooking, and margarine), rice grain and straw grain (used in cereals). Mustard, radish, and wheat products have been able to absorb methoxyfenozide applied the previous year from the ground, due to crop rotation. In long‐term toxicity and carcinogenicity studies with rats, the target organs of toxicity were the liver, thyroid and the haemopoietic system (where blood cells are formed). The long‐term toxicity study in rats and the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) potential was considered to be acceptable despite low survival rates. The most common cancers related to methoxyfenozide exposure include thyroid cancer, and liver cancer.
Fludioxonil is a fungicide developed by Sygenta in 1993, and is applied to the following foods (residue levels in order from most to least): kale, pears, nectarines, peaches, potato flour, tangerine, raspberries, papaya, potatoes, cherries, grapes, strawberries, apricots, clementines, lemons, plums, celery, ginseng, oranges, blackberries, blueberries, sweet peppers, apples, lettuce, raisins, lime, cereals, animal feed, and dog food. Chronic exposure to fludioxonil affects reproductive organs, liver, kidneys, and biliary systems. In one study, the effects of fludioxonil on disregulated hormones the prostates of male rates, long after exposure to fludioxonil stopped. Exposure to fludioxonil early in life may cause persistent health effects later in life, especially on reproductive tissues like testis, prostate, and low testosterone levels. Fludioxonil can also affect breast cancer cells, and induce genotoxicity which causes chromosomal or DNA damage. Pregnant women, young women, young men, and children (boys and girls) should avoid fludioxonil as much as possible.
Chlorpyrifos is a commonly used pesticide. Yes, the same chlorpyrifos that the U.S. EPA just banned. From the 1970’s – 1994, farmers in the United States relied on chlorpyrifos. In recent years, starting in 1995, farmers started mixing benomyl with chlorpyrifos for leaf spot prevention (due to the upcoming limit reduction by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996). Chlorpyrifos exposure (especially during pregnancy and in childhood) has been linked to lower IQ levels, ADHD, impaired verbal learning, and higher impulsivity. It is estimated that the cost from the IQ losses due to chlorpyrifos exposure during pregnancy is $45 billion ANNUALLY! Recent studies have also shown that exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause diabetes, high cholesterol, alterations in gut microbia, chronic inflammation in the bowel, and obesity. Now that chlorpyrifos is banned from us in the United States, it is expected that dodine, mancozeb, and thiophanate-methyl will be the replacements.
How to avoid herbicides, fungicides, and pesticide exposure:
- Grow your own food: Gardening has been proven to have a significant positive impact on overall health. Studies have shown that people who garden have experienced reductions in depression, anxiety, stress, and BMI (weight loss). They also experienced an increase in physical activity, cognitive function, and quality of life. The lifestyle changes that occur while gardening often accompany overall healthy dietary changes as well, and gardeners often accidentally follow a keto or paleo diet. Check out this article for more information on 23 Pesticide Covered Foods That Are Easy to Grow at Home.
- Buy organic: Eating organic foods does not eliminate chemicals from your diet, however many studies show that it does reduce the amount of harmful chemicals ingested. There are pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides approved for organic certification, however, they are labeled by the EPA to have a reduced risk or minimal risk to human health. Organic foods are also allowed to have lower “high risk” residues, because of overspray and drift from neighboring fields.
- Avoid GMOs: Genetically modified organisms are seed crops modified to allow survival for herbicidal sprays. While non-GMO foods may have less herbicides like RoundUp, pesticides and fungicides can still be applied to crops. Herbicides can also be applied to non-GMO crops for processing purposes, as RoundUp is often applied to sugar cane just before harvest to help dry the crop out (reducing farming costs).