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Could Organic Produce Be the New Ritalin?

Dr. Mary Bouchard just published an article showing that children with organophosphate pesticide residues in their urine wereto have ADHD.
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Organic produce really is worth the price and may provide great health benefits. In previous blogs, I reviewed the studies that have been published over the last couple of decades that back up that statement. The research proving it all is available on the web (at no charge) in a review article that I authored. Two new studies add more documentation to the weight of literature showing the great health benefits of organic food. One study showed the superiority, in all ways, of organic strawberries over their conventionally raised counterparts. The second study showed that the pesticide residues in children (most of which come from our fruits and vegetables) are certainly associated with ADHD.

First, let's talk about strawberries...

As I reviewed in the article in Alternative Medicine Review and in the Huffington Post blogs, most organic foods have higher levels of antioxidant compounds than conventionally raised foods. The new article on strawberries from researchers at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, has revealed that organic strawberries are rated higher than conventional strawberries in several areas. Would you like a strawberry that tastes better, lasts in storage longer, is sweeter, has more health-promoting antioxidant levels and fewer pesticides? If so, choose organic strawberries the next time you go to the market! That's right ... in all of those areas, organic strawberries where shown to be superior. In addition, the organic berries are much easier on the environment, as no pesticides were used. And, as mentioned in a previous blog, since less than 1 percent of all pesticides actually make it to the target pest, this is a very good thing for our world.

This is also wonderful news because previous studies have shown that strawberries provided one of the highest levels of antioxidant compounds that we need to stay healthy.

Unfortunately, strawberries have been at the top of the "most toxic fruit and vegetable" lists for many years (www.foodnews.org). So, for years I have been avoiding strawberries throughout the portions of the year when fresh organic berries were not available. When fresh strawberries were not available, I was using frozen blueberries or a berry extract (Liquid Life) to get my fruit-antioxidant daily dosage.

So, if sweeter strawberries with better flavor, longer shelf life and greater levels of health-giving nutrients are important to you, then maybe the fresh organic strawberries are worth a little extra in price. Why pay good money for berries that don't taste good?

Now, on to the Ritalin connection (yes, these DO tie together!).

Cynthia Curl published a wonderful study in 2003 in which she revealed her findings that children who were fed organic varieties of fruits and vegetables had far lower (in many cases undetectable) levels of organophosphate pesticides in their urine. This was true regardless of whether organophosphate pesticides were used in the home or garden where the children lived. So, we know that if you don't want your children exposed to a neurotoxic chemical (that actually was developed for warfare), it would be wise to feed them organic foods.

Another wonderful researcher, Dr. Mary Bouchard, just published a blockbuster article showing that children with organophosphate pesticide residues in their urine were twice as likely to have ADHD as those children who did not have the residues in their urine. The next question would then be, "could ADHD be improved by reducing the organophosphate pesticide exposures in the children?"

A good question. My answer is that such an improvement would be likely simply because of the action of organophosphate pesticides. This neurotoxic action kills bugs by reducing the level of a certain enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that clears an important neurotransmitter chemical (acetylcholine) out of the junction between nerve cells. This clearing allows the last nerve signal to pass and the nerve to "rebalance" before another signal is sent. If that neurotransmitter is not cleared away, it would like having a continuous signal going on. Now, think of that description and then think of the last ADHD child that you saw. Does it look like they are having trouble with continuous stimulation?!

Of course, we won't know until a double-blind study is done. But why not start feeding yourself and your children organic foods now. That is, unless you feel deficient in neurotoxic chemicals.