The Food We Eat:
A Tug of War Between Tasty Treats and Hidden Threats
In a world where processed foods beckon us with their convenience and fresh produce promises health and vitality, it is easy to forget that our plates sometimes carry more than just nutrients and flavors. Beneath the delicious facade of our favorite snacks lies a hidden battleground: the fight against toxic chemicals. From pesticides in our produce, antibiotics in our chicken and turkey, to food coloring in our cereals – the list of toxic chemicals is vast. Research shows that many of the synthetic food additives and preservatives contribute to higher risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, liver and heart disease, and immune system imbalance, to name just a few.
Take processed foods for instance. These pose significant threats to our health as I have already written in my book Diet Slave No More! back in 2016. Processed foods are chock full of chemicals to improve their smell, color, taste, and crunchy mouth feel. And to make things even more complicated, we also must watch out for the containers which these foods are stored in. These containers can release toxic chemicals such as BPA, vinyl chloride, or styrene into the food itself.
Now, let us switch gears to the fresher side of our plates – fruits and vegetables. These colorful gems are often touted as nature’s health boosters, but there is a catch. The pesticides used in agriculture to protect these crops are mostly toxic. I often get asked if buying organic food is therapeutic or just a fad. As a Functional doctor, my answer is: organic is safer for your health. Consider this: while there are more than 900 synthetic pesticides allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in conventional farming, only 25 of those are allowed for use in organic farming. Most of these latter 25 are less toxic chemicals such as calcium hypochlorite, boric acid, and hydrogen peroxide, but even these behoove us to wash even our organic produce thoroughly before use.
Then, there is also the issue of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) – these were created in the labs to be prettier, to yield bigger crops, to be able to withstand extreme temperatures and other growing conditions. Veggies, which are most affected by the GMO process are: corn, soybeans, tomatoes, and potatoes. While the direct effect of GMO on our health is still being researched, there have been links with allergies, asthma, and immune dysregulation in mice studies. In addition, GMO foods are associated with a wide variety of toxic pesticides such as Glyphosate (trade name Roundup), the most widely applied herbicide in both the United States and abroad. Unfortunately, Glyphosate is officially classified as Class 2B (a “probable human carcinogen”). GMO has also been associated with antibiotic resistance and hormone disrupting activity in humans and more studies are underway to test these links.
But fret not; it is not all doom and gloom. There is a growing trend toward organic farming, where fewer synthetic pesticides are used. Foods labeled “USDA Organic” are not allowed to have been genetically engineered so they are automatically non-GMO. Another great trend is an improved availability of non-GMO foods. Foods labeled “Non-GMO project verified” – do not contain GMO but may have still been grown with conventional pesticides. Still, buying at least non-GMO is already a huge step towards your safety. Of course, buying USDA Organic is the best option, but we all understand that this is not always available or feasible for everyone. So, we just act smart and do our best, according to the current circumstances.
For those people who believe that they have symptoms related to environmental food toxicity – there are state-of the art functional lab tests available from your functional medical doctor, to confirm and assess the extent of the exposure to the toxins. Based on the results of those tests and every person’s unique health–related circumstances, a detoxifying plan is implemented and carried out under the watchful eye of the functional doctor. Stay tuned to the next issue of the magazine as I will try to highlight some useful tips for identifying and avoiding toxic chemicals in our foods.
The author of Diet Slave No More!, Svetlana Kogan, MD is a Board- Certified Internal Medicine, Holistic & Functional Medical Doctor with 25 years of experience. Her website is CustomLongevity.com Office phone: 239-676-6883