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The dirty dozen - what are they & their impact on hormonal health

In the realm of holistic nutrition, our bodies are viewed as complex ecosystems where every choice we look beyond macronutrients and optimise nutrition for you to improve your quality of life and longevity. One crucial aspect of this interconnected web of health is hormonal balance. Hormones play a vital role in regulating various bodily functions, from mood to metabolism. However, there's a compelling reason why many nutritionists recommend steering clear of the "Dirty Dozen" when it comes to hormonal health. In this blog, we'll explore the connection between these pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables and the delicate balance of our hormones.


Understanding Hormonal Health


Before delving into the Dirty Dozen, it's essential to understand why hormonal health is crucial. Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout our bodies, influencing nearly every process, including growth, metabolism, mood, and reproduction. Achieving and maintaining hormonal balance is vital for overall well-being.


The Dirty Dozen and Pesticides


The Dirty Dozen is a list of twelve fruits and vegetables that have consistently tested positive for high levels of pesticide residues. These currently include;

  1. Strawberries

  2. Spinach

  3. Kale

  4. Nectarines

  5. Apples

  6. Grapes

  7. Peaches

  8. Cherries

  9. Pears

  10. Tomatoes

  11. Celery

  12. Potatoes



Conventionally grown versions of these foods are often subjected to various synthetic pesticides, which can interfere with hormonal health in several ways:

  1. Endocrine Disruption: Many pesticides used in conventional agriculture are known endocrine disruptors. These chemicals can mimic or interfere with the body's natural hormones, leading to imbalances and potentially disrupting the endocrine system (Mnif et al., 2011).

  2. Estrogenic Effects: Some pesticides have estrogenic properties, meaning they can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. This can lead to estrogen dominance, which is associated with a range of hormonal issues, including PMS and irregular periods.

  3. Detoxification Burden: When we consume foods laden with pesticides, our bodies must work overtime (particularly our liver) to detoxify and eliminate these chemicals. This added burden on the liver can disrupt the intricate balance of hormones.

  4. Inflammation: Pesticides have been linked to chronic inflammation, which is a key driver of hormonal imbalances. Inflammation can lead to insulin resistance, thyroid dysfunction, and other hormonal issues (Lima et al., 2022).

  5. Reduced Nutrient Absorption: Pesticides can compromise the absorption of essential nutrients needed for hormonal health, such as vitamins and minerals. This can further exacerbate imbalances and limit overall functioning. There is also research immersing about the impact of pesticides on the gut microbiome (Ueyama et al., 2022).




Supporting hormonal balance through food


To support hormonal health from a holistic nutrition perspective, consider these alternatives:

  1. Choose Organic: Opt for organic versions of the Dirty Dozen to reduce pesticide exposure and support your hormonal balance.

  2. Eat a Rainbow: Incorporate a diverse range of fruits and vegetables into your diet to ensure you're getting a wide array of nutrients that support hormonal health.

  3. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing into your routine.

  4. Balanced Diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in whole foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats to support overall hormonal health.

  5. Consult a Clinical Nutritionist: If you're experiencing hormonal imbalances or have specific concerns, consider consulting a Clinical nutritionist who can provide individualised support and provide high quality supplements where necessary.


Conclusion


In the holistic nutrition world, paying attention to the quality of your food is as important as the quantity. The Dirty Dozen serves as a reminder that what we put into our bodies can significantly impact our hormonal health. By choosing organic alternatives where possible and adopting a holistic approach to nutrition, you can support your body's natural hormonal balance and promote overall well-being. Remember, your body is a finely tuned ecosystem, and every choice you make plays a role in maintaining its harmony.



References

Lima, C., Falcão, M. A. P., Rosa, J. G. S., Disner, G. R., & Lopes-Ferreira, M. (2022). Pesticides and Their Impairing Effects on Epithelial Barrier Integrity, Dysbiosis, Disruption of the AhR Signaling Pathway and Development of Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases. International journal of molecular sciences, 23(20), 12402. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms232012402


Mnif, W., Hassine, A. I., Bouaziz, A., Bartegi, A., Thomas, O., & Roig, B. (2011). Effect of endocrine disruptor pesticides: a review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 8(6), 2265–2303. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph8062265


Ueyama, J., Hayashi, M., Hirayama, M., Nishiwaki, H., Ito, M., Saito, I., Tsuboi, Y., Isobe, T., & Ohno, K. (2022). Effects of Pesticide Intake on Gut Microbiota and Metabolites in Healthy Adults. International journal of environmental research and public health, 20(1), 213. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010213



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