Until our government has completed improving guidelines for pesticide safety standards and have clearly established limits on mercury, families need to take some simple measures to protect themselves. We should not sacrifice good nutrition for concerns about toxins. Fresh foods are still our best bet in offering antioxidant protection against a number of degenerative diseases of aging.
However, here are some guidelines to protect your family:
- Avoid fish species during pregnancy and while breastfeeding
Although smaller species of fish will have less mercury contamination, PCB’s and dioxin may still be an issue. My recommendations are to avoid all fish in this critical time, despite the FDA’s recommendations. The problem is that pregnant women should receive the benefits of omega-3 fats (which are naturally high in fish) because research does show benefits of these good fats for infant brain development and visual acuity. This is best achieved in my opinion with a high quality fish oil supplement. Check the company for quality control issues. Screening for mercury and other contaminants should be done by the supplement company. Other food sources of omega-fats can include omega-3 enriched eggs, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil and olive oil.
- Buy organic
Supporting organic and local farmers who do not use sprays is the best way to lower exposure to pesticides. For picky eater children who eat only a few varieties of fruits or vegetables, organic choices may be even more important to reduce their risks. For all fruits and vegetables, make sure you are washing them thoroughly.(a few drops of mild dishwashing soap is adequate). Peel nonorganic fruits and vegetables to remove waxes that seal in pesticides.
- Choose a variety of foods
By rotating foods, you may reduce exposure to any one type of toxin.
- Buy produce in season and locally grown foods
Foods in season are less likely to be imported. You may ask your local grocer if they are imported. Local produce is fresher and closer to ripeness and less likely to have post-harvest pesiticides and additives.
- Eat fewer animal products
Dioxin, one of the persistent organic chemicials, is found in high concentrations in beef and pork. Trim all visible fat and buy less fatty cuts of meat to minimize exposures.
- Buy organic milk and dairy products
Due to hormones and antibiotics used in our dairy cattle, we can limit this exposure buy choosing organic.
- Minimize the use of pesticides around the home and garden and on pets
This is especially important if you are pregnant or have small children. Store pesticides safely. Use a pest control service that uses less toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Avoid using pet collars and flea powders.
- Make sure your school follows “Healthy Schools 2000”
By California state law, schools are required to notify parents when pesticides are going to be used on school grounds. Make sure your school is following these guidelines.
- Recycle mercury items
Call your local hazardous waste collectors to find a safe way to dispose of mercury thermometers, batteries, flourescent light bulbs around the home. If you are a health professional, take note of the mercury sources within your hospital or clinic and learn how to identify and dispose of these items properly.
- Use a quality nutritional supplement
Add a quality vitamin-mineral supplement and an omega-3 fat supplement for everyone in the family. Because children are often picky eaters and lack variety in their diet, they are more at risk for nutrient deficiencies. In marine animals, selenium was found to play a protective role against mercury toxicity. Zinc and selenium have both been found to help with immunity. Animals who were zinc-deficient were shown to have poorer attention.Supplementing children with the omega-3 fats and foods as mentioned earlier may be beneficial. Studies have shown that those with depression, ADD and even asthma may have improvements with additional omega-3 fats.