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5 Minutes

HOW TO: avoid Pesticides (not just about organic…)

This article looks at the impact of pesticides and herbicides on our bodies. Particularly related to its impact on our ability to conceive and have healthy children. We look at three easy ways that can help you reduce your exposure. Regardless of your time/budget constraints.

Just because something is allowed and used prolifically does NOT mean it is necessarily ‘ok’.

Our knowledge is constantly evolving. We have seen many cases over time where ‘approved materials’ have subsequently been pulled. After we learn more about their long term effects. Cigarettes (once prescribed for coughs!), DDT, leaded petrol, asbestos (in baby powder!) are just a few examples….

It does take time however. Even more time when the companies selling these products are very powerful both financially and in terms of lobby.

However, the very first cracks are beginning to show for Pesticides and Herbicides. We have just recently had the second ruling against Glyphosate aka Roundup – one of the most prolifically used herbicides in the world. A jury in the US has ruled once again that it has caused cancer. Check out more here.

It does not stop there….

Click here for MUCH more on the some of the evidence-based reseach around additional impacts for you/a developing baby.

The trouble is, the amount of pesticides and herbicide we use globally has risen dramatically over the last forty/fifty years. In part as our population has grown and as industrial farming techniques evolve to try and fit around the need for lots of food at the lowest price. We have gone from on average using 0.49kg/h to around 2kg/h. That is a lot more washing around our ecosystem.

The trouble is, there is a growing body of respected research (which obviously the agricultural chemical companies do not want us to see) from the likes of Stephanie Seneff at MIT linking pesticides and herbicides to:

  • Endocrine disruption ie hormone imbalance – see the feminised frog study for more on that

  • Gut dysbiosis ie. throwing the balance of the bacteria in your gut off (key for immunity/mental health and many more aspects of our general health). Click here for more.

  • Oxidative Stress and chronic inflammation – the root of a lot of modern day chronic illness which is on the rise. Including neurodevelopmental and autoimmune conditions. Click here for more.

Conception, pregnancy and the early years of a child’s life is the time of most rapid development and greatest vulnerability. It is the time you especially want to avoid too much exposure. The argument that the amount we’re exposed to is tiny does not hold. Particularly when the total percentage/hectare use of pesticides and herbicide has gone from 0.49kg in the 60s to 2kg/h more recently. Nor when you consider these ‘tiny amounts’ come at least three times a day every day.

So what can you do about it?

Three things to consider:

ONE: the most obvious one is to buy organic produce whenever you can. However, this can have its own pitfalls to watch for. Make sure the labelling is robust – look for the Soil Association certification in the UK or USDA certified organic if you’re in the US. Every country will have a body designated to ensure that the correct standards are met (which are actually very strict at least in the UK). People are technically not allowed to call a product ‘organic’ if it is not. Unfortunately, the higher price will entice people to at least try! The obvious downside is that it is not perfect (unfortunately no ‘solution’ is). It is undoubtedly more expensive plus you cant necessarily find everything you want. A good solution to get where you can however.

TWO: ‘pick your poison’. The Environmental Working Group is a fantastic resource that everyone should check out. Absolutely my go-to. Every year they publish the ‘Clean Fifteen’ and ‘Dirty Dozen which is a list compiled based on analysis of produce samples tested by the USDA of the foods most or least effected by pesticides. Did you know that one sample of strawberries contained as many as 20 different types of pesticides?! Spinach was another major offender – showing twice the pesticide residue by weight than any other fruit/veg. Yuck, clearly to be avoided unless you can buy organically. Avocado on the other hand – with its hard shell – is ok to buy from a non organic source.

Click here for dirty dozen which you should avoid if organic is not available

Click here for clean fifteen where you can be more relaxed

THREE: our good old friend Activated Charcoal. This is what is used in the emergency room if you have been poisoned as it rapidly and effectively draws in toxins. Now, the common pushback here is that it can disrupt the gut bacteria. It is powerful stuff. This is why it is better to wash your produce and then rinse it thoroughly before consuming. We do not recommend ingesting it. Does it also strip nutrients? Without knowing the detail it is likely that some of the good stuff gets lost also. Frankly however, I would rather that than the toxins from pesticides and with a few less nutrients. It is an individual choice of course and alas no option (at the moment) is a perfect solution. Good to know your options though!

How to use it? Very simple – rinse off your produce and add to a bowl. Add filtered water and a teaspoon of charcoal (a little can go quite a long way!) and let it soak for 5-10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Simple as that.

New technology is emerging to tackle this issue. Vertical Farming being the most obvious. However, it is still early days so we wait with interest to see what better solutions technology can bring.


This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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