This article was read 0 times
Pollution And Your Diet
In North America, there has been a focus in the last decade or so on the unhealthy production and consumption of food. The dependence of North Americans on processed, convenient food has led to a widely discussed and studied problem with obesity, in adults as well as in children. In an effort to move North Americans away from processed and fast food, the nutritional experts have been pushing people to eat more fresh fruit, vegetables and lean meats (especially fish) in order to promote a healthier, leaner lifestyle. While fresh food is without a doubt the preference over processed and fast food, there are questions as to what chemicals in fresh foods can contribute are contributing to the ill-health of our population.
In studying the literature, there are three major concerns in the general population when it comes to pollutants in our food: dioxins, mercury, and pesticides (which encompass a number of chemicals). A quick survey of the effects of these pollutants and how you can avoid them will give you a better understanding of how to optimize your healthy diet until further studies can determine the effects of these chemicals on the body.
Dioxins enter fish through the water, settle on plants through particles in the air, and enter animals through what has settled on their food. Dioxins on plants can be removed simply by washing the plants (as they are not absorbed, but rather sit on the surface). Like most pollutants, however, dioxins are fat soluble, and accumulate in the fatty tissue in animals and fish. When humans consume an animal, their accumulated dioxins are transferred into their fatty tissue.
Since the 1980s, governmental regulations put in place led to the reduction in the amount of dioxins in the North American environment by 80%, and the amount in our food chain has also subsequently decreased. The levels of dioxins in imported foods will depend on the levels of dioxins in their native countries. Dioxins levels in fish, who live in the very environmentally sensitive ocean, will vary.
These days, the most significant source of mercury in our bodies is through the consumption of seafood. Fish absorb mercury through water that is filtered through their gills. Mercury from the water is absorbed and accumulates in the fatty tissue throughout the fish. It accumulates over their lifetimes, so the longer a fish lives, the more mercury it will have absorbed. Likewise, mercury accumulates in our systems and is stored in our fatty tissues.
The dilemma here is that nutritional experts have really been pushing fish as a part of a healthy diet. Fish are an excellent source of protein, and an essential source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be beneficial for everything from lowering bad cholesterol to preventing cancer. On the other side of the debate are the purists who say that no amount of mercury is safe and that we should be seeking our omega-3 elsewhere.
Until this issue is studied further, the best recourse is to limit your fish intake to once a week and supplement your diet with a fish oil supplement if you can. There are also some fish that are safer than others. If you can, avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, bluefish, wold striped bass, American eel, marlin, and spotted trout. Tuna steaks are also thought to be high in mercury and not recommended for children and women who are pregnant or in their childbearing years. Even canned tuna should be limited for mothers and children.
Although no fish is completely free of mercury and other pollutants, safer fish include: wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, Atlantic herring, Dungeness crab, Alaskan Black and Pacific cod, farmed striped bass, tilapia, farmed catfish, clams, mussels and Pacific oysters.
As it stands, not enough research has been done on each type of pesticide used to determine how the residuals of various chemicals used in pesticides, and the compounds that they break down into in our systems, effect human health after long-term exposure.
Alternatives such as organically grown food, which is grown without the use of chemical pesticides, and food grown using Integrated Pest Management (in which pest-resistant varieties of plants and natural pest enemies are used to increase yield and decrease dependence on chemical pesticides) can reduce your exposure to pesticides.
Some fruits and vegetables show higher levels of pesticide residue, so look for organically grown versions if you can. These include: peaches, strawberries, apples, spinach, nectarines, celery, pears, cherries, potatoes, bell peppers, raspberries, and imported grapes. Safer fruits and veggies (with lower levels of pesticide residues) include: onion, avocado, frozen sweet corn, pineapple, oranges, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, banana, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.
CLICK HERE FOR THE TOP REVIEWS BEFORE YOU BUY!