Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chocolate

Chocolate is known to contain a wide variety of minerals and trace elements including magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. It is also a rich source of antioxidants and has been identified as a potent antioxidant for LDL cholesterol. The phenalyic content of chocolate is 20 times higher than tomatoes, 3 times that of grapes, and twice the level of garlic. Dark chocolate contains more than twice the level of phenyls compared to milk chocolate while white chocolate contains no anti-oxidants. A bar of milk chocolate (45 grams) was found to contain approximately the same level of phenyls as 150 mill glass of red wine. Chocolate contains a higher concentration of phenyls than either red wine or green tea on a weight basis.


And just in time for Easter. A study out this week found, believe it or not, chocolate consumption was associated with a lower Body Mass Index (weight). Chocolate has shown favorable metabolic associations with blood pressure (BP), insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol level.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Omega oils for the brain

More fish oils for the brain. Researchers found that a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and cognitive capabilities. This is consistent with thousands of other studies. A word of warning, you wont get omega 3 from any processed foods like cereals as they will all be oxidised.
Best sources are from a mix of plant (flax and chia) and animal (krill and cold water fish). Plant sources still have to be processed in our body to a form (EPA and DHA) to be effective. Unfortunately our conversion rate is very low, around 5% and it needs lots of coenzymes (vitamins). if you are missing the vitamins then it cant be converted.
There is a growing body of evidence linking DHA to cognitive function and various studies have reported that regular consumption of omega-3-rich food could prevent age-related cognitive decline. The studies consistently show a dose-dependent inverse association between dementia and fish consumption. That is, the more omega 3 you consume the lower the risk.

On the other hand, meat consumption was found to increase dementia risk .

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and currently affects over 13 million people worldwide. This number is increasing and we know how to reduce it. Increase your omega 3, lower your meat and sugar.


Soft drinks and sugar kill

Another study found that just one can of soft drink a day increases your risk of heart attack by 20%. The study of 42,833 men found just one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened drink a day had a 20 percent higher risk of heart attacks. Putting this in perspective the so called benefits of taking statin drugs like lipitor and zocor is around 1%.

By eliminating sugar from our diet, this includes high GI foods as well we can dramatically reduce our risk of CVD.

The Authors of the study said "Continually subjecting our bodies to high amounts of glucose, to high blood sugar levels that trigger large secretions of insulin results in stresses that in the long run show up as high risk of heart disease and diabetes,"

We have known about this since the 1950's but the information has been pushed under the table by the cholesterol and fat lobby.


PS this does not mean you can have diet soft drinks, they are just as bad.


Sugar and heart attack

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA. 2010;303(15):1490-1497) found a high intake of added sugar is associated with increased risk for low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides (blood fats). The HDL cholesterol is the one that transports the cholesterol back to the liver where it is used. When the HDL is low it is associated with a higher level of heart attack and stroke risk.

Compared with adults who got less than 5% of their total energy intake from added sugars, those getting 17.5%–25% of their energy from added sugars were about twice as likely to have low HDL levels.

The message lower your sugar to lower you risk of heart attack and stroke.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Red meat is a mans poison


I recently saw an ad on television with Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame telling the audience that red meat is essential to good health and even promotes brain development. Unfortunately the claims were extremely exaggerated and misleading and failed to mention any of the numerous adverse health effects of eating meat. So I thought I would set the books straight based on science, not profit.
Human genetic makeup, shaped through millions of years of evolution, has determined our nutritional and activity needs. We have not evolved as meat eaters; we are omnivores who get a small amount of our calories from wild meat including insects and rodents. As such we do not have the body or digestive system of a big meat eater. Without tools, we would not even be able to hunt big game. Our teeth are naturally shaped for grinding—they are not sharp teeth designed for tearing and ripping. Our digestive organs and teeth most closely resemble those of our closest evolutionary cousins, the chimpanzees, gibbons, gorillas and orangutans. Our intestines are proportionally two to three times longer than those of cats or dogs (meat eaters by nature) and about half the length of the intestines of grazing animals such as cows and horses.
Until recently, meat made up a small part of our diet and, even then, was consumed only intermittently. In early times we ate our meat straight from the wild. We devoured rats and other rodents (we sure did, a bunny is a rodent), large insects (ever tried a Witchetty grub?), birds, small game and the occasional feast of big game. The meat meal was so precious that we made sure to eat the entire animal, including the organs and whatever we could suck from the bones. For thousands of years, humans prized the organ meats of animals more highly than a cut of steak from the muscle.
The meat was 4% to 6% fat, rich in minerals and Omega 3 oils and low in arachidonic acid (AA). The wild animals that humans consumed were forced to hunt for food and at times had to cover great distances to ensure their survival. In contrast, modern breeding practices have focused on selecting for animal breeds that accumulate large quantities of fat and on keeping animals relatively inactive to encourage weight gain 1. This trend is based partly on consumer demand and reinforced by agricultural grading processes 2
The meat we eat today is very different; it is high in saturated fat, high in arachidonic acid (which causes inflammation) and low in nutrients. Today’s meat is approximately 25% to 30% fat by weight, of which 50% to 60% is saturated and low in beneficial Omega 3 oils—despite advertising claims that meat is a good source of Omega 3 oils. Even low-fat farmed meat is higher in fat than game meat.
The problems caused by eating meat are further compounded by the fact that animals bred to become “edible” meat have been manipulated with hormones, antibiotics and diet to make them grow big (and fat). They are increasingly being grain-fed due to the consumptive demand by our supermarkets. Cattle were not designed to eat grain; they were designed to eat grasses with a very small amount of grain. Grass-fed beef is one-third to three times leaner than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also provides two to four times more essential Omega 3 fatty acids than feedlot beef. Researchers have found grass-fed beef contains two newly discovered “good” fats: conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and trans-vaccenic acid (TVA) (our bodies turn TVA into CLA) 3. Grass-fed beef also provides more beta-carotene, vitamin E and folic acid as well as some important antioxidants.
To the hungry eye, grain-fed meat may look better on the shelf but it is worse for you and for your family. Let’s not forget that it is also far worse for the welfare of the cattle and the environment. My experience of feedlot cattle is that the entire process is very inhumane. Particular culprits here are the big supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths that demand grain-fed animals. Then growth hormones are added to some beef, but not others. To find out which ones, you can begin by asking your butcher (who may or may not know).
Meat and disease
Red meat consumption is associated with a wide range of chronic inflammatory illnesses including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and shortened life expectancy. There are countless published studies that confirm increased rates of certain cancers with high red meat consumption 4,5,6,7. More than three or four servings of meat per week is linked with an increase in cancers, particularly colorectal cancer and breast cancer. In a major US study, people with the highest intake of red meat experienced a statistically significant elevated risk of aesophageal, colorectal, liver and lung cancers 8. For processed meat consumption, people with the highest average intake of these meats (22.6 g per 1,000 kcal) were calculated to be at a 16 and 20 percent increased risk of lung and colorectal cancer, respectively. Possible reasons for this include dietary fat from the meat, compounds like N-nitroso compounds (NOCs), heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) formed during high temperature cooking. By contrast, eating poultry and fish in place of red meat did not increase the risk of colon cancer, but rather decreased the risk significantly 4.
In a recent study it was concluded that consumption of red meat was associated with higher risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer in pre-menopausal women 9. In post-menopausal women, another study found red meat to increase the risk of breast cancer among women by up to 50%, specifically those who were overweight 10. One study of older women found consumption of red meat to increase the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 11. Several studies have also found a direct correlation between red meat consumption and prostate cancer 5 Yet another study found meat intake positively associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer—although the researchers suggest it may be a result of the toxins produced during cooking 12.
Red meat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke 13,14,15. Those who consumed red meat daily had a 60% greater chance of dying from a cardiovascular disease than those consuming red meat less than once a week 5. Changing just 5% of total energy intake in calories of adults from saturated fat to unsaturated fat would reduce their risk of heart disease by 42%. Yet the ads on television tell you that meat is essential. Don’t let truth get in the way of a good ad.
Many large epidemiological studies have found that vegetarians are less likely than meat eaters to have high blood pressure. In a study of 28,000 vegetarians and 48,000 non-vegetarians over a period of 10 years, the vegetarians were 24% less likely to die of ischemic heart disease, including heart attacks, compared to the non-vegetarians. Researchers also found that fish eaters had no more heart disease than vegetarians. In a study comparing monks (Trappists are strict vegetarians while Benedictines are not), researchers found lower blood pressure in the monks of the vegetarian Trappist monasteries.
In contrast to meat, nuts reduce the risk of fatal and nonfatal heart disease. Subjects who ate nuts five or more times per week, compared with those who ate nuts less than once a week, reduced their risk by approximately 31% to 37% in male vegetarians compared with those who ate meat three or more times a week 16.
Other studies have found a strong link between red meat and type 2 diabetes 17,18. This is thought to be partly due to the health effects of iron overload from red meat, which increases the risk of CHD and other cardiovascular health problems 19. Obesity, an increasing public health problem worldwide, has been shown to occur repeatedly in those who regularly consume red meat as part of a usual diet 14. Red meat intake increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 15. Women in the US show a positive association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and red meat intake 6. Numerous studies have also associated red meat consumption with osteoporosis and bone fractures 20. This is thought to be associated with an increase in the acid diet of meat eaters. Susceptibility of disease or risk of infection also seems to be lower amongst those avoiding red meat 14.
The benefits of reducing or eliminating red meat from the diet clearly outweigh keeping it in one’s diet.
Environment
Farming of red meat is one of the most environmentally destructive agricultural practices of modern times. Worldwide agricultural activity, especially livestock production, accounts for about a fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to climate change and resulting adverse health consequences, including the threat to food yields in many regions. By decreasing one’s intake of red meat, the demand for livestock will decrease, lowering the devastating effects of livestock production. Likewise, livestock numbers will not be as high if their meat is not demanded by the human population, and thus the methane produced by livestock which contributes to global warming will also decrease 21. Modern meat production is an example of the inefficient use of natural resources. Modern methods of raising cattle use excessive amounts of grain, water and fossil fuels, and create both air and water pollution 22.
To be truly environmentally and globally conscious, one must think about at least cutting down meat consumption. Consider that, according to the organisation Compassion in World Farming, it takes 16 kilos of grain to produce one kilo of meat for consumer consumption (not to mention all the water and other resources used). Meanwhile, the United Nations reports that 160 million children under five are malnourished. Does it make sense that we are feeding grain to cows instead of to children?
The politics of meat
Despite abundant evidence of the toxic effects of meat, the Australian government (and other governments of meat exporting countries) states that daily consumption of red meat is consistent with a healthy diet. The only possible reasons for this are the economic benefits and pressure from very powerful and large lobbying groups. Overall, it is accepted in the scientific journals that those limiting or avoiding red meat in the diet will live a healthy life with decreased risk of many chronic diseases. After a major US study was recently released and recommended reducing dietary consumption of meat, the American Meat Institute (AMI) took an opposing stance, calling the recommendations on meat consumption “extreme” and “unfounded.” According to the institute, “The advice to limit red and processed meats reflected their anti-meat bias.” The real bias, however, is not with the scientists who have nothing to gain or lose from changes in meat consumption.
Final word
As a general rule animal proteins (meat, dairy and eggs) should not make up any more than 10% of your daily calories. Levels of animal protein above 10% increase the risk of most forms of chronic illness. By contrast plant proteins (nuts and beans) don’t show any negative health effects. Protein from white meat, fish, nuts, beans and legumes offers plenty of choices on the source of protein for a red meat-free diet, with none of the negative consequences.
Red meat is not the best source of protein nor is it essential for our survival. The meat we eat today no longer resembles the meat that was a part of our evolutionary diet. Game meat may have provided an evolutionary advantage to survive in tough times when we struggled to reach 50 years of age but the meat we eat now is what kills us and causes a lot of pain and suffering before we even get to 50. The more red meat you eat the more you get sick. The choice is yours.
References
1. McCollum 1997
2. Lichtenstein 1999
3. Priya et al. 2004
4. Thun 2005;
5. Kushi et al. 2005;
6. Varraso 2007;
7. Skjelbred et al. 2007
8. Cross et al. 2008
9. Miller 2007
10. Taylor et al. 2007
11. Chiu et al. 1996
12. Nothilings et al. 2005
13. Keys 1986;
14. Williamson et al. 2005
15. Phillips 2005
16. Frazer 1999
17. Klotter 2007
18. Prattley 1998
19. Qi et al. 2007
20. Noakes 2007
21. Siegford et al. 2008
22. Grosvenor and Smolin 2002).

Monday, March 12, 2012

April Optimal Health Weekend

April 2012

Optimal Health Weekend

An informative and transformational weekend

April 21-22, Piney Lakes Melville

Saturday and Sunday 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM,

Would you like to

Improve your energy and reduce the ageing process

learn what you’re doing for your health is more important than genetics

overcome your illness

transform your thinking, take control of your health and improve the quality of your life


Testimonials

On a good note, my daughter has listened to me and has changed her diet and we have both lost over 10kgs since your seminar and we feel fantastic for it. Thank you once again for such an amazing weekend, you are an inspiration to me and I hope you continue to educate both adults and school children on living an optimal healthy lifestyle”. -Alyson

“What a great seminar in respect of optimal health. Learning to change your lifestyle in a positive way with the how and why was such valuable information.” –Jeanette

“This weekend seminar exceeded my expectations. It was excellent. It will really open your eyes and dispel so many myths. A real must for families to know this info!”

I was absolutely blown away by the information. Most importantly the information was relevant, easy to understand and applicable to your life immediately. If the information wasn't enough, you couldn't help but be captivated by Peter's dynamic, infectious passion for each of the topics he discussed. Peter walks the talk, he actually went through what he does on a day to day basis and why.

I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Optimal Health Weekend to anyone who cares about their health and the health of their family and friends."

Will (Health professional).

“Excellent! Very informative, entertaining presentation filled with lots of good information that can be applied into my life. I would recommend it to others who are interested in health and well being.” –Monique

“Peter cleared away the mist so I could see the mountain top. I now have a clear understanding of the fundamentals of my health. The seminar was magic and will make a permanent change. Not only good from a nutritional point of view- a good shake up on my life balance. More time would be great!” -Phil

Optimal Health Weekend with Dr Peter Dingle

Unfortunately most of us are running on empty, feeling tired and overwhelmed. This weekend will transform your life. It will Nourish your mind and your body and make your healthy life a reality with one of Australia’s most motivating health presenters.

Learn about the 4 pillars of optimal health which will empower you to not only prevent chronic illness but also to reverse the chronic illness like atherosclerosis, diabetes, psoriasis and more.


Optimal Health Weekend with Dr Peter Dingle

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Hot drinks supplied all day BYO Healthy Food

April 21-22, Piney Lakes Melville

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Sunscreens

Most of the chemicals contained in sunscreens have minimal toxicological effects when first applied to the skin. However, when exposed to sunlight, the chemicals are heated and reactions occur between the sunscreen’s active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis. Most of the risks associated with sunscreens lie in the method used to stop the UV radiation harming our skins. Sunscreens use organic compounds to either reflect or absorb different parts of the UV spectrum. When the absorption method is used to protect us from UV radiation, the particles absorbing the UV are energised, or elevated to a higher energy level. This energy is re-emitted when the particles drop back to their former, lower energy level. The released energy enters the epidermis. It is this process that causes the skin damage.

Many of the chemicals in sunscreens have been found to cause phototoxic, photoallergic or photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects. PABA (Paramino benzoic acid) has been found to increase the development of a particular DNA defect in human cells. When this occurs in people who lack the mechanism to repair the defect, they are more susceptible to skin cancer. When exposed to sunlight, PABA also readily generates oxygen radicals which harm DNA strands . An ester of PABA, amyl paradimethylarninobenzoate (Padimate A) was found to cause phototoxic reactions. Padimate A reacts with UVA to produce symptoms widely resembling sunburn. The similarity between sunburn and a phototoxic response has led people to mistakenly believe that the sunscreen causes sunburn. An ingredient commonly used in sunscreens, 2-phenylbenzimidazole-5-sulfonic acid (PBSA), strongly absorbs UVB radiation, thus becoming energised and capable of affecting adjacent skin tissue by damaging the guanine base sites of the cell’s genetic material. This may increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Physical sunscreens contain inert materials such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and/or talc. They work on the basis of reflecting, scattering or blocking UVA and UVB radiation. The effectiveness of this type of sunscreen depends on the diameter or size of the particles or the thickness of the film (application) to reflect or scatter the visible light or UV radiation. No phototoxicity, contact sensitisation or photoallergy have been produced by these agents, although they may be so occlusive (that is, block so effectively) that they may cause blockage of the sweat glands, a condition known as miliaria.

Octyl Methoxycinnamate appears to be the most common chemical used in Australian sunscreens. This forms part of the group of photon absorbing chemicals, the cinnimates. Photoallergy has been reported as well as contact allergy.

Benzophenones, a constituent in sunscreens, have been found to cause contact allergy and photoallergy. Benzophenones, oxybenzone and mexenone have the potential to mimic and exacerbate a disease. One example is chronic actinic dermatitis, found predominantly in elderly men.

Dibenzoylmethanes have been incorporated into sunscreens since 1980 as UVA absorbers. Cases of photoallergy and contact allergy have been reported as well as cross reactions from prior exposure to dibenzoylemethanes. Instances of contact and photocontact allergy with dibenzoylmethane derivatives such as 5-methoxypsolaren (5-MOP) and isopropyl dibenzoyl methane (Eusolex 8020) have been found with sunscreen usage and it is often used in conjunction with Eusolex 6300.

There are instances of people using sunscreens who have reacted to the excipients (base materials/carriers) included in the formulation, such as the preservatives, fragrances and emulsifiers, which have caused contact allergies. So there is cause for concern not only about the active ingredients in sunscreens, but about the inert ingredients as well.

The question of whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer is an ambiguous one. A review of studies on skin cancer and sunscreens by Science News, found that people who use sunscreen are more likely to develop basal cell cancer than people who do not. Science News also examined ten studies of melanoma. Five of them concluded that people who used sunscreen were more likely than non-users to develop melanoma. Three of the studies found no association between melanoma and sunscreen use, and two studies found that people who used sunscreen were the most protected. Science News 65, found that epidemiological data was not conclusive. This may be because people involved in the studies were not wearing effective sunscreen, or were staying in the sun longer because they thought they were protected.

Other PABA derivatives that have caused sensitisation or photocontact sensitisation include octyl dimethyl PABA (padimate 0) and amyl dimethyl PABA (padimate A). Padimate A causes redness of the skin. The frequency of padimate 0 causing adverse reaction is less in comparison to PABA and monoglyceryl PABA because padimate 0 is not a true PABA ester.

In general, elderly people are more susceptible to chemically induced photosensitivity, be it photoallergic or phototoxic. This is due to several factors: their skin is thinner and more easily penetrated, they may be on medication that can enhance photosensitivity and their body’s capacity to excrete such substances once penetration has occurred is much slower.

In 1994, researchers at the Harvard Medical School found that the ingredient psolaren in sunscreens is an extremely efficient carcinogen. Experiments on rodents exposed to UVA also produced the same result - psolaren was found to be carcinogenic. It is worrying that psolaren is known to be a free radical generator when activated by UV radiation, and yet it is used in sunscreen ingredients. People with psoriasis are at greater risk, as their squamous cell carcinoma rate was found to be 83 times higher than that of the general population.

3-(4-Methyl-benzylldene) camphor (known as Eusolex 6300) is a sunscreening agent used widely in Europe. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disapproves of this ingredient due to the high incidence of allergic and photoallergic reactions reported.

Titanium dioxide has also been found to absorb 70% of UV, and in aqueous environments this leads to the formation of hydroxyl radicals which can initiate oxidation. This is known to cause breaks in DNA strands, leading to an increased risk of cancer. In response to titanium dioxide’s potency, manufacturers coat the particles to make them less active. Although this treatment has been found to reduce the chemical’s activity, it does not eliminate DNA damage altogether. Particles of titanium dioxide have been made smaller to stop the white paste effect on the skin, but this enables them to enter cells more easily and block sweat glands. Titanium dioxide does not itself cause photoallergic reactions on the skin, but it can create the skin condition miliaria, mentioned earlier, causing inflamed sweat glands and heat rash. Titanium dioxide is used in PABA sunscreens because it is not a sensitiser and blocks the appearance of photoallergic reactions.


Salicylates are known to cause photocontact allergy. Toxic effects from Octyl salicylate, a major derivative used in many sunscreens, has yet to be reported.

Cinnamates are chemically related to or can be found in coca leaves, cinnamic acid, cinnamic aldehyde and cinnamon oil. They are included in perfumes, topical medication, flavourings and sunscreens. The cinnamate derivative, p-methoxymethylcinnamate has been found to be cytotoxic, while 2 Ethoxyethyl-p-cinnamate (cinoxate), a major derivative of cinnamate, and used in sunscreen, causes the majority of the allergic and photoallergic reactions in humans. Cross reactions with other cinnamate derivatives have also been reported.

Excipients act as the carriers or base materials of a product and ‘receive’ and carry the other ingredients. These chemicals include mineral oil, petrolatum, isopropyl esters, lanolin derivatives, aliphatic alcohols, emulsifiers, fragrances, thickeners and preservatives. Sunscreen toxicity can be caused by excipients in the formulations.

In studies, sensitive subjects tended to be older and often had a history of long-standing dermatitis. In a study of 603 people aged 40 and over, 114 people were tested and found to be allergic to ingredients in sunscreens. Fragrances, used extensively in sunscreens, produced the most common reaction: allergic contact dermatitis.

The FDA expressed their concerns about cancer when it was discovered that a combination of the 21 allowable sunscreen ingredients caused lesions that were not previously seen when the individual ingredients were tested separately.

The health benefits of Organic Food

The greatest benefits of organic agriculture are to the consumers as organic produce means less pesticides and fewer contaminants in our food. Even at low levels these contaminants can play havoc with the body and despite all the assurances from government and industry they still have little idea as to the real consequences of a pesticide addicted agricultural industry.

The overuse of cadmium contaminated superphosphate has led to an increasing exposure of the public to this heavy metal. Cadmium blocks the uptake of essential minerals by the body. Chemically, cadmium is very similar to zinc, so it behaves in a similar way, including blocking zinc an essential trace mineral in the body. In fact, one cadmium molecule antagonises about 100 zinc molecules, so a very small amount of this metal can cause big problems. It also out-competes selenium and magnesium in the body. This problem is further exacerbated by the nutrient depleted soils in which non organic crops are grown, with many foods already being deficient in essential trace elements. The highest cadmium concentrations are consistently reported in infant foods. It’s also significantly higher in Chinese peanuts, (a good reason to buy Australian peanuts).

Although farmers can no longer use the persistent organochlorine chemicals such as DDT and Dieldrin, they have at their disposal a large battery of highly toxic chemicals. Little or no training is required to use these chemicals, which are then applied to food crops without proper appreciation of their toxicity. Carrots for example, may have thirty one, separate, active ingredients (pesticides) applied to them: sixty five may be applied to broccoli, eighty five to wheat and one hundred and one to apples. These are only the active pesticide ingredients without even considering the other chemicals in the mixture, or the different brand names for the active ingredients and how much is applied or how frequently. While the residues in our foods are generally low, they are there. Most of the research in developed countries, including Australia, shows detectable levels of pesticides in between 30-40 percent of the crops monitored. We should be aware that these are only the chemicals they are looking for. When it comes to the byproducts the testing authorities are not sure of what they should be looking for, or how to monitor them.

Despite the claims by government and the chemical industry that this isn't a problem, the research is showing that the consumption of conventional food increases levels of a number of pesticides in the body by between six and ten times, in comparison to those people consuming organic produce. In one study children who were eating conventional produce showed levels of DMTP (Dimethylthiophosphate, a metabolite of organophosphate pesticides) nine times higher than those who ate organic produce. But what is most disturbing is that the levels were often twice as high in children as compared to adults.

In March of last year (2005), the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) reiterated again that children are more vulnerable to gene-damaging chemicals than are adults. Kids are not simply smaller versions of adults. Unfortunately, this is how they're seen when it comes to developing regulations and safety standards. For the first time, the US EPA has tried to put a figure on how much more susceptible children are. They reported children two years old and younger might be 10 times more vulnerable than adults to certain chemicals and that children between the ages of two and 16 might be three times more vulnerable to certain chemicals. This means we need to make a huge shift in the way we regulate these chemicals and may also mean that in some cases, the chemicals kids are exposed to at home may be up to 10 times too high in concentration. There is added concern when we know that kids usually have the highest exposure to chemicals as well.

Other research is now also showing that the adverse effects of these chemicals are much greater than those put forward by the authorities, including increased frequency of cancer and chronic diseases. Particularly as we learn about the eostrogenic effects of many of these chemicals and with the latest research the epigenetic effects. The epigenetic effects are changes that are passed on through generations but don’t alter the genetic material. We did not even know about these till very recent so we now need to retest all those so-called safe chemicals. Related to this the recent findings of popular organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos lowering the testosterone levels in males along with fertility levels.

Unfortunately, not all the old persistent pesticides have been removed, Mercury, another heavy metal, despite its well known toxicity is used as a fungicide. Just one mercury molecule antagonises 1000 molecules of zinc and out-competes selenium and iron in the. It blocks many important enzymes and is able to pass through the blood brain barrier and cause damage to the central nervous system and the brain particularly in newborns. It is also a chemical that caused birth defects.

On the other side of the equation organic food tends to have higher levels of nutrients such as minerals and antioxidants. In a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study organic ketchup had three times as much lycopene as some commercial brands. The USDA group tested 13 commercial ketchups six popular national brands, three organic, two store brands and two from fast-food chains. They found that the organic brands were the most abundant in lycopene.

The message is eat organic. It has lower levels of pesticides and other contaminants and higher levels of nutrients to balance out all the other exposures we have in the twenty first century.