I was recently researching the level of toxic chemicals I am transmitting to my second-born through breast milk and I was happy to know not as much as I detoxed over to my first-born 12 years ago (ugh). Some of the information out there from scientific journals and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is quite scary.
Before I discuss my findings, I want to make sure people know how to avoid exposure. We are exposed to pesticides through eating, drinking, breathing, or contact with eyes or skin. Eating contaminated food and contact during home use are the main sources of exposure to pesticides. One way to avoid a high intake of pesticides is by learning about and using the “Clean 15” and avoiding the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the annual lists of fruits and veggies tested by the Environmental Working Group. (EWG is a great resource for information on products too. Take a look before you buy sunscreen).
The Dirty Dozen list (shown below from the EWG website) provides you with the produce to avoid all together or to only buy organic due to the high level of pesticides. The Clean 15 (also listed below) is a list of produce with the lowest amount of pesticides so you can buy conventional and not get too much exposure to pesticides.
Try to buy organic because the more we buy, the more companies will grow organic foods and grocery stores will provide organic produce at lower prices. If you can’t afford organic, try to only purchase off the clean 15 list and wash, wash, wash as much residual pesticides off your food.
So what did I find…
Not only did researchers find toxic chemicals from PCBs and persistent pesticides which were banned in the 1970s in breast milk and urine of infants*, now studies out of Berkley* also show non- persistent pesticides in breast milk. Why should you be interested in breast milk if you aren’t a nursing mom? Because, breast milk is high in fat content so it shows what is being stored in your fat cells when you ingest certain chemicals! Scary, right!?
Wait; it gets worse,. How exposure to non-persistent pesticides affects most people is still largely UNKNOWN, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (pdf). As you will see, “The effects of pesticide exposure on the general population at current levels of exposure are unknown” is written under each non- persistent pesticide description. Many chemicals are introduced into products and our environment before being tested. Once the detriments are discovered, the products are recalled/removed yet the chemicals still remain in our environment. One example is the flame retardants used on car seats, children’s clothes and many foam products which was banned in 2004, and most of us know the toxic story of PCB’s in plastics.
Fortunately there are many ways to detox. Our bodies were made to detox, this is why we have a liver, kidneys and our lymphatic system. Because we are bombarded with toxins from air pollution, wireless signals, chlorine in our drinking water and an abundance of chemicals, it is a good idea to use additional support to detox.
Juicing is one way to cleanse the body. There are many juice cleanses, from one-day juice fasts, up to 5-day juice cleanses. I recommend starting with one organic fresh green vegetable juice in addition to you current diet. I find people naturally start cutting out the junk and eating less once they have added a juice. After you are used to drinking a vegetable juice, then try only drinking organic vegetable juice all day with one small meal. I personally juice one day a month or whenever I feel sluggish or addicted to sugar and caffeine. Adding a juice is one way to get all the detoxing vitamins from pounds of veggies all in one juice. If you are on blood thinners, ask your doctor first due to the vitamin K content of most green juices. Also adding a little fruit to sweeten the veggies is nice but try to avoid too much sugar from fruit.
Another great way to detox is to get a lymphatic massage. Our lymphatic system is key in fighting infection and preventing the spread of cancer cells. Lawana, a massage therapist at Elements Center, incorporates lymphatic drainage in her massage sessions. With the use of both therapeutic massage and lymphatic drainage, she has very effectively improved hip and shoulder pain by decreasing edema, swelling, and restoring balance to tight muscles. After a lymphatic drainage session, you should feel relaxed with renewed energy. Drink a lot of filtered water after the session and feel proud that you got rid of some toxic chemicals from your tissues.
Here’s to detoxing!
DIRTY DOZEN (plus two):
NECTARINES – IMPORTED
SWEET BELL PEPPERS
KALE / COLLARD GREENS +
SUMMER SQUASH +
SWEET PEAS – FROZEN
*J Environ Monit. 2011 Nov;13(11):3136-44. doi: 10.1039/c1em10469a. Epub 2011 Oct 19.
A pilot study of pesticides and PCBs in the breast milk of women residing in urban and agricultural communities of California.
1,3 Weldon RH, Barr DB, Trujillo C, Bradman A, Holland N, Eskenazi B. A Pilot Study of Pesticides and PCBs in the Breast Milk of Women Residing in Urban and Agricultural Communities of California. J Environ Monit. 2011 Nov;13(11):3136-44
2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21126941 Eskenazi B, Huen K, Marks A, Harley KG, Bradman A, Barr DB, Holland N. PON1 and neurodevelopment in children from the CHAMACOS study exposed to organophosphate pesticides in utero.Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Dec;118(12):1775-81