Study suggests it may weaken immune system and fertility
Researchers say that dieters who don’t eat organic foods can do their bodies more harm than good.
Oslo, Norway – There has been a lot of fanfare around the Mediterranean diet in recent years, which typically consists of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and fish. Now, new research offers alarming warnings. Switching from an ordinary “Western” diet to a traditional Mediterranean diet can triple the consumption of environmental contaminants, reveals the astonishing new report.
Many studies have hailed it as a healthy alternative to typical diets (high in saturated fat from red meat and dairy products), which makes it very popular with health conscious people. In a surprising twist, however, the authors of this new report claim that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are the source of most of these toxins when they come from traditional farming techniques. During this time, the fish contain much less contaminants.
The international team says the Mediterranean diet could weaken the human immune system, lower fertility and even stunt the growth and development of children. The study, led by scientists at the University of Oslo, looked at UK college students who are on a diet. They conclude that farming everything in a Mediterranean diet organically reduces the intake of these contaminants by 90 percent.
The researchers tested the participants’ urine and looked for what contaminants were present in the foods they ate. Project leader Carlo Leifert, visiting professor in Oslo, says several of the environmental contaminants discovered can affect hormones in the body.
âMany of the synthetic pesticides detected in food and urine samples in this study are confirmed or suspected endocrine disruptors (EDCs). Exposure to pesticides 10 times higher from conventional foods may therefore provide a mechanistic explanation for the lower incidence of overweight / obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer associated with high levels of organic food consumption in epidemiological studies. / cohort â, explains Leifert in a university outing.
Do all of these toxins come from food?
Researchers say it’s too early for health officials to start recommending against the mediterranean diet. They note that the study of 27 UK students was small and more research is needed to confirm the results.
“This study provides clear evidence that our diet and the way we produce food can affect the level of exposure to synthetic chemical pesticides and, ultimately, our health,” adds Chris Seal, professor at the University. from Newcastle.
A person’s intake of environmental contaminants also comes from other factors such as skin creams and even the air we breathe. The study did not take these factors into account, although the researchers say it is unlikely to have affected the results.
âOne of the challenges in assessing the public health impacts of dietary exposure to pesticides is that once pesticides are widely used in food production, everyone is exposed. This study demonstrated the potential of using organic food consumers as a ‘low pesticide exposure control group’ to study the effect of currently used and recently released pesticides on public health, ‘says Dr Leonidas. Rempelos.
Fan of the Mediterranean diet? Go organic.
Study participants ate “regular” British foods for a week before the study began and were required to record what they ate. The team then took urine samples from each person before sending them to a farm in Crete for two weeks. Upon arrival, the researchers divided the group into two groups, one eating normally grown foods and the other eating organic produce. They had urine samples taken again before returning to the UK and on a normal diet for an additional week.
âA growing body of evidence from observational studies shows that the health benefits of increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains are partially diminished by the higher exposure to pesticides associated with these foods. . Our study shows that consuming organic foods allows consumers to switch to a healthier diet without increasing the consumption of pesticides, âconcludes Professor Per Ole Iversen of the University of Oslo.
The results appear in the American Journal of Critical Nutrition.
South West News Service writer Gwyn Wright contributed to this report.