As important as plant-based eating, consistent activity, adequate sleep, and stress management are to weight control, any discussion of successful, healthful weight loss must include the negative impact of industrial toxins and pesticides on weight regulation.
Remarkable research in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. suggests that the most overweight people are found in cities and areas with the greatest amounts of industrial and environmental pollution. In the U.S, the 10 cities with the most overweight people are connected either to the Mississippi River (the most polluted river in the U.S.) or in the case of West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, are home to some of the top-20, mercury-polluting power plants in our nation.
While the lifestyles in these industrial waste areas may promote poor eating habits and sedentary behavior that contribute to weight gain, it has become more apparent that increased levels of industrial pollutants also contribute significantly to increased body fat and weight gain. Mines, refineries, and factories regularly produce toxic products for commercial sale and use on our food supply.
They also release a variety of industrial toxins (by-products of their operations) into the environment.
Many of these toxic products, such as pesticides, are derived from fossil fuels (the same gas and oil reserves that are burned for our energy needs). Fossil fuels are made from a combination of the decaying bones of ancient animals, and decaying earth and vegetation over a long period of time. As a result, toxic products derived from the bodies of these long-ago animals can affect the function and hormonal systems of all mammals, including humans.
These “endocrine disruptors” can:
• compromise fertility and the reproductive cycle of mammals,
• compromise adrenal and thyroid function
• influence the creation of fat cells, and
• promote reactive weight gain and obesity.
Furthermore, since industrial toxins and pesticides are derived from oily fossil fuel reserves, they are fat-soluble and so can be dissolved in fat and oil. So when the body is exposed to these chemicals it can dissolve and store them in fat cells and fat tissue. By storing these chemicals in fat tissue, they can be removed from general blood circulation, thereby reducing potential toxic effects on the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys. Therefore, since the body can protect itself by storing this toxicity in fat tissues, an increased exposure to these toxic chemicals may exaggerate the production of body fat.
In addition, pesticides and industrial toxins can signal and trigger dormant immature fat cells (pre-adipocytes) to grow into mature fat cells, increasing body fat and promoting weight gain. As a result, these toxic chemicals are now referred to as “obesogens,” chemicals that promote an increase in weight gain and obesity.
As fat cells grow, due to toxic stimulation, it is harder to keep weight down. Weight gain urges the detoxifying systems of the body to slow down and store more chemical toxins (“obesogens”) in the growing mass of available fat. As the body becomes fatter and more toxic, there may be an increase in inflammatory responses and additional toxic effects that overwhelm the body’s detoxification pathways even further.
Under this pressure, the body continues to try to minimize these fat-soluble toxins by making more body fat in which to store them, reinforcing an ongoing cycle of toxicity, fat, and weight gain.
Research has shown specific connections between a variety of toxic obesogens and specific health and weight-related conditions.
All of this highlights our need to consume as much organic produce as possible. Especially when you consider that there is significant pesticide contamination in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, tap water, and baby foods. And when the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog
organization that monitors pesticide use in America, has detected pesticide residues in almost 70% of our produce (even after the produce has been washed and peeled) and also discovered that several popular brands of baby food were contaminated with fungicides and bug killers.
• I especially recommend eating ground plants, such as lettuce, deep greens, potatoes, celery, cucumbers, and berries as organically as possible, since these plants grow close to the ground and have short root systems (when they are sprayed with pesticides these chemicals can be taken up by the roots and concentrated in the cells of these plants).
• Also, keep in mind that due to biological magnification, the pesticides in plants and grasses are even more significantly concentrated in the bodies of the animals that eat them; this strongly suggests that eating animal products can significantly increase your exposure to obesogens, and increase your risk of weight gain and obesity.
The good news is that there is a wide availability of organic plant foods at reasonable prices in a variety of conventional supermarkets and health food stores.
Furthermore, it is also important that the cleaning products for your home and beauty products for yourself be as green, clean, and devoid of toxic chemicals as possible.
It doesn’t pay to get overly stressed about the things you can’t change. However, you should take as many positive, proactive steps as possible to change what you can by consuming food and using personal products that are the least toxic and the most supportive for long-term health and weight regulation.
by Dr. Frank Sabatino