Learn What's Real:  Studies, Podcasts, Books

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Pesticides are extensively used by farmers in China. However, the effects of pesticides on farmers’ health have not yet been systematically studied. This study evaluated the effects of pesticides exposure on hematological and neurological indicators over 3 years and 10 days respectively. A cohort of 246 farmers was randomly selected from 3 provinces (Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Hebei) in China. Two rounds of health investigations, including blood tests and neurological examinations, were conducted by medical doctors before and after the crop season in 2012. The data on pesticide use in 2009–2011 were collected retrospectively via face-to-face interviews and the 2012 data were collected from personal records maintained by participants prospectively. Ordinary least square (OLS), Probit, and fixed effect models were used to evaluate the relationship between pesticides exposure frequency and the health indicators. Long-term pesticide exposure was found to be associated with increased abnormality of nerve conductions, especially in sensory nerves. It also affected a wide spectrum of health indicators based on blood tests and decreased the tibial nerve compound muscle action potential amplitudes. Short-term health effects included alterations in complete blood count, hepatic and renal functions, and nerve conduction velocities and amplitudes. However, these effects could not be detected after 3 days following pesticide exposure. Overall, our results demonstrate that pesticide exposure adversely affects blood cells, the liver, and the peripheral nervous system. Future studies are needed to elucidate the specific effects of each pesticide and the mechanisms of these effects.

Health and science journalist Max Lugavere studies and writes about ways that food and movement fuel you. And, allow you some balance and freedom in your choices.

He joins the show to round out a body of work that includes his best-selling “Genius Foods,” “The Genius Life” and now his latest to complete the trio: “GENIUS KITCHEN: Over 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Make Your Brain Sharp, Body Strong, and Taste Buds Happy.

“It’s a kitchen and wellness guide,” Max explains. “I didn’t want to just make a book of recipes. That would’ve been too easy. I wanted to make something that was going to stand the test of time and serve as a resource for people. Something that they could refer to, not just for delicious meals to cook, but also as a compendium, a synthesis of all of my sort of ideas on food and nutrition.”

His work was inspired by his mom’s diagnosis with a rare form of dementia in her 50s. He dedicated himself to her care and also began researching how to prevent cognitive decline through nutrition.

“Though I began to cook when my mother could no longer cook herself, I realized that culinary literacy (like health literacy) had become yet another aspect of life that we had outsourced,” Max says in “Genius Kitchen.” I became passionate about creating healthy food that is delicious and easy to make and have since had the privilege to learn from chefs all around the world. And, having a teacher like my mom didn’t hurt, either.”

Widely used around the world, pesticides play an important role in protecting health, crops, and property. However, pesticides may also have detrimental effects on human health, with young children among the particularly vulnerable. Recent research suggests that even low levels of pesticide exposure can affect young children’s neurological and behavioral development. Evidence shows a link between pesticides and neonatal reflexes, psychomotor and mental development, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Implications include a need for improved risk assessment and health histories by clinicians, greater education at all levels, more common use of integrated pest management, and continued policy and regulatory strategies to mitigate the effects of and the need for pesticides.

Use of high input conventional farming methods including toxic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified microorganisms, growth regulators and other chemicals has affected not only soil fertility but also have serious health and environmental hazards. Nowadays, organic farming is a sustainable alternative to conventional farming strategies. Organic farming aims to conserve and build soil health, biodiversity and natural resources by using sustainable agriculture methods. It has a significant role in reducing soil erosion and nutrient leaching (nitrate and phosphorous) as well as in improving water retention capacity of soil and greenhouse gas emission. Reports showed that in general there is higher nutrient content specifically higher level of vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorous and some micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, trace elements) but significantly less nitrates in organically grown food crops. Protein levels were also found lower although the quality was better in some of organic vegetables and crops. Overall, reports of published data showed that total and organic carbon, total nitrogen and available phosphorous with Ca, Mg, Mn, Zn, Cu were greater in soil under organic cropping systems. Further, enhanced nitrogen mineralization with comparatively higher microbial biomass and enzymatic activities in soil under organic management was stated in literatures.

Dan Kittredge is a life-long organic farmer as well as founder and executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association. The BFA advocates for the shift from the century-long paradigm of factory farming to one in which quality food is profitable, ecologically sustainable, tastier and equally available to all. On today's episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dave and Dan talk about organic farming, finding quality vegetables, supplementing your diet, nutrient-rich foods and a simple diet. Enjoy the show!

The importance of the gut and the soil microbiomes as determinants of human and ecosystem health, respectively, is gaining rapid acceptation in the medical and ecological literatures. This suggests that there is a wealth of highly transferable knowledge about the microbial ecology of human and non-human ecosystems that is currently being generated in parallel, but mostly in isolation from one another. I suggest that effectively sharing this knowledge could greatly help at more efficiently understanding and restoring human health and the functioning of ecosystems, which are currently under wide-spread pressure. I illustrate this by comparing the effects of nitrogen deposition on ecosystem carbon sequestration with unhealthy dietary habits and human disease. The deposition of N, a key nutrient for plant growth, may increase carbon sequestration (equivalent to obesity) through several mechanisms, including a reduction in the ability of soil microbes to process organic matter, which some argue could help mitigate climate change. However, this usually results in a degradation of ecosystem health and, thus, cannot represent a real solution. Similarly, human obesity is linked to an alteration of the composition and functioning of microbial communities inhabiting the gut, which is often attributed to unhealthy dietary habits, including ingesting high amounts of simple sugars and processed foods. Finally, I advocate for the explicit recognition of the many commonalities between the functioning of the gut and ecosystems and a broader multidisciplinary collaboration among experts in ecology and human health, including the engineering of soil microbial communities designed ad-hoc to restore ecosystem health.

Previous studies have found an association between two commonly used agrochemicals (paraquat and maneb) and Parkinson's disease. Now a professor has determined that low-level exposure to the pesticides disrupts cells in a way that mimics the effects of mutations known to cause Parkinson's disease. Adding the effects of the chemicals to a predisposition for Parkinson's disease drastically increases the risk of disease onset.

That seven-day-old bag of spinach in your refrigerator may not make you as strong as your grandma told you, because, according to Penn State food scientists, spinach stored for a long time loses much of its nutrient content.

Current policies for guaranteeing food security emphasize the importance of farmland, but forests play critical roles as well. Forested areas can help communities that rely on wild foods to diversify their diets and meet their nutritional needs, according to researchers who found direct links between deforestation and reduced fruit and vegetable consumption in rural Tanzania.

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Called “terrifying” by L'Express and “a gripping and urgent book for anyone concerned about democracy, corporate power or public health” by Stuffed and Starved author Raj Patel, Our Daily Poison takes award-winning journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin across North America, Europe, and Asia. The book documents the many ways in which we encounter a shocking array of chemicals in our everyday lives―from the pesticides that blanket our crops to the additives and plastics that contaminate our food―and their effects over time.

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In Farmacology, practicing family physician and renowned nutrition explorer Daphne Miller brings us beyond the simple concept of "food as medicine" and introduces us to the critical idea that it's the farm where that food is grown that offers us the real medicine.

By venturing out of her clinic and spending time on seven family farms, Miller uncovers all the aspects of farming—from seed choice to soil management—that have a direct and powerful impact on our health. Bridging the traditional divide between agriculture and medicine, Miller shares lessons learned from inspiring farmers and biomedical researchers and artfully weaves their insights and discoveries, along with stories from her patients, into the narrative. The result is a compelling new vision for sustainable healing and a treasure trove of farm-to-body lessons that have immense value in our daily lives.