- Patient Education
Another Good Reason to Eat Organic
Environmental influences are suspected to play a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Certain environmental toxins known as “neurotoxicants,” including heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides are known to be harmful to the brain. According to the Society of Toxicology in the paper, The Role of Environmental Exposures in Neurodegeneration and Neurodegenerative Diseases, “Major mechanisms are shared between virtually all neurodegenerative diseases. Blood-brain barrier disruption, protein aggregation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction are major shared pathogenic processes. Neurotoxicants may either initiate or potentiate such processes, ultimately leading to neurodegeneration.”
How can you minimize your risk from neurotoxicants?
Think about your personal exposures. Depending on your job or your environment, you may have more or fewer exposures than an average person. A common route of exposure is through food and water. Filtering your drinking water, choosing organic meats and dairy products, and following the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guidelines for avoiding the fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides is a great place to start.
The EWG publishes a handy guide every year, outlining the “Dirty Dozen”—12 foods most contaminated with pesticides (the ones you should make an effort to buy organic) as well as the “Clean 15”—foods with hardly any pesticide residue.
The most recent Dirty Dozen and Clean 15:
Dirty Dozen: Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and peppers.
Clean 15: Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower, and broccoli.
What else can you do?
1. Don’t smoke. If you do, seek help to quit.
2. Increase your education about exposure to organic solvents and other toxic chemicals. Some of the typical hazards include paint, dry-cleaning, industrial printing, laboratory chemicals, textile dye and glue, and agricultural chemicals.
3. People with occupational exposures have higher risk of health effects than people with casual exposures. Take precautions to reduce exposure, use personal protective equipment, and ventilate a workspace well to minimize risk.
4. Drink filtered water.
5. See Dr. Bates, the IMSMP’s naturopathic doctor, for personalized recommendations and to learn more and to develop an individualized strategy to minimize the harm to your health from environmental toxins.