Ode to the Organics!
Throughout the years, people have slowly become aware of the importance of eating organic foods. There has been a surge of organic produce and organic products hitting the shelves at our favorite stores, which makes it so much easier to eat organic. THANK GOODNESS!! My husband and I eat a minimum of 90% of the our food as organic foods, as well as most of the products that will go in and on our bodies. It’s not just hype and it’s not just “trendy” to eat organic and choose organic products, there have been serious consequences that we are seeing due to the use of pesticides and herbicides. You see, since the discovery of the mother of pesticides, DDT, in 1939, in which DDT is no longer legal, many more pesticides have been developed and heavily used since the 1960s (known as the Green Revolution) (Aicha, 2011). Unfortunately, these chemicals are altering the way our bodies function, particularly to reproduction, and as women with PCOS, this is seriously something that we don’t need.
What are herbicides & pesticides?
Pesticides and herbicides are lab-created compounds that are used primarily to “kill unwanted organisms incrops, public areas, homes and gardens, and parasites in medicine” (Aicha, 2011). Pesticides “destroy, suppress or alter the lifecycle of unwanted pests” such as insects (EPA, 2016). There are 3 particular crops that tend to have the heaviest amount of herbicides and pesticides used on them, and that is cotton (think tampons!!), corn and soy. Herbicides destroy, suppress or alter the lifecycle of unwanted plants such as weeds. The idea is that the less diseases that crops have, the higher yields of the crop will be produced and sold. More monies! The less work a gardner, landscaper or regular home-owner or home-renter has to put into keeping their yards tidy, the better. Sounds reasonable (and a bit lazy and selfish), but unfortunately, when humans try to “outsmart” nature, nature will ALWAYS win…hence the serious consequences to pesticides and herbicides.
Pesticides & herbicides interfere with our hormones
Among all of the EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) that exist in this world, you’ve learned that plasticizers such as BPA are classified as EDCs, and many pesticides and herbicides are also classified as EDCs. Pesticides and herbicides can be found everywhere and many tend to have a very long half life. What this indicates is once used, pesticides and herbicides can be held in our soil, our air and our water for years and years…yes, that long…
Have you heard of the herbicide RoundUp by Monsanto? It has been widely used in over 130 countries and has the ability to kill over 100 different varieties weeds. This particular herbicide (still sold!!) has a compound called glyphosphate and glyphosphate has been very-well documented to have, without a doubt, EA (Rangkadilok et al, 2010) . There have been copious studies that show that pesticides as well as herbicides greatly interfere with our hormones, and just as in plastics, have EA (estrogenic activity) that mimic estrogen in our bodies. They also have been shown to mimic testosterone and interfere with thyroid hormone production (NIEHS, 2016). This is obviously a HUGE issue not only for men and women in general, but women with PCOS that already have an issue with excess estrogen, excess testosterone and some may even have challenges with their thyroid. Excessive exposure to pesticides have been continuously been documented to interfere dramatically with wildlife’s ability to successfully procreate, particularly birds, have been shown to have serious consequences to human reproduction as well, and the large increase of cancers, allergies and neurological disorders have been possibly linked to pesticide usage in our world (Aicha, 2011).
Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen
If you struggle with converting to a primarily organic diet (most likely primarily price-point), try your best to follow the “Dirty Dozen” rule and the “Clean Fifteen” rule. Although I do prefer to eat organic for our bodies and for the environment, I understand that it can get a little pricey. The “Dirty Dozen” rule consists of a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that have been known to contain an excessive amount of pesticides and herbicides. The “Clean Fifteen” rule consists of a list of 15 fruits and vegetables that have been known to have less pesticides and herbicides on them.
- domestic blueberries
- sweet bell peppers
- spinach, kale and collard greens
- imported grapes
Clean Fifteen (in non-organic form/conventional)
- sweet corn
- sweet peas
- kiwi fruit
- sweet potatoes
- sweet onions
(Pou, 2010). What I like to think of, if the skin on a non-organic fruit or vegetable is very thin , it most likely will have an excessive amount of pesticides and herbicides leaking into the flesh. If the skin on the non-organic fruit or vegetable is thick, it’s not as likely to have as much pesticides and herbicides leaked into the flesh. Always wash your fruits and vegetables, even if organic, though, to prevent any additional exposure to additional pathogens. In conjunction to this, don’t forget about putting in a little extra money for 100% organic cotton tampons (these go inside of our bodies…we can’t stress the importance of this), and if you do eat corn or soy, choose organic varieties as well.
Take home message-Knowledge IS Power
Eating properly and making the right dietary choices is such a crucial step for the management of PCOS. It can be a bit overwhelming, but over time, and with the support of our Health Coaches, it will become a part of your lifestyle. The evidence is plain and clear pointing toward the necessity for making the transition to organic foods and organic products. It will make a large difference in the overall amount of estrogen and testosterone being registered in your body, and this will help you get your PCOS in balance!
Aicha, B., Aziz, I., Aghleb, B., Benoit, R., Olivier, T., & Wissem, M. (2011). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A Review, 8(6). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138025
National Institute of Environmental Health Services. (2016). Endocrine Disruptors. Retrieved from http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine
Pou, J. (2010). Arizona PBS. The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 of Produce. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616
Rangkadilok, N., Satayavivad, J., Surivo, T., Thiantanawat, A., & Thongprakaisang, S. (2013). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Glyphosphate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors, 59. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23756170