Phytonutrients found in certain foods may protect against the toxic effects of industrial pollutants such as dioxin and DDT, suggesting a dual role for plant-based diets to reduce both exposure and subsequent damage.
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Images thanks to: Ekko and Linuxerist via Wikimedia Commons; Marion County, Oregon, CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture, and notafish.
Not only do plant foods tend to have significantly lower levels of industrial pollutants because they are at the bottom of the food chain, there may be phytonutrients that combat the effects of some of these toxicants. A group of scientists recently published a paper describing what happened when they ordered some dioxin from Dow Chemical, grabbed some DDT while they were at it, and dripped the chemicals on some human white blood cells with and without a variety of phytonutrients to see if they could have a protective effect.
They identified two as “the most effective agents in protecting human blood cells from developing these cell toxic effects of dioxin and DDT. Here’s a bit of their data—this is measuring inflammation triggered by the dioxin. All four of these phytonutrients seemed to mitigate the toxic effect, but zerumbone, found in ginger, and auraptene, found in citrus, appeared best at suppressing the inflammation. Now this is obviously very preliminary, it was in a test tube and they tested only a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of known phytonutrients, but it does open up the possibility that plant-based diets may play a dual role in protecting us against industrial pollutants, reducing exposure—and, potentially, reducing some of the damage from any chemicals we're still exposed to, given how polluted our world has become.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.
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Where is dioxin found in our diet? See Dioxins in the Food Supply. What about DDT? See yesterday’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day Food Sources of Perfluorochemicals. How many different chemicals are the most vulnerable amongst us overall? See CDC Report on Environmental Chemical Exposure for pollutants in pregnant women and yesterday’s NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day, How Fast Can Children Detoxify from PCBs?, for exposure of children. More on ginger in Amyloid and Apple Juice and Dangerous Advice From Health Food Store Employees. See how we can incorporate more in our diet in Healthy Pumpkin Pie and The Healthiest Beverage. I've also got 11 videos on citrus and hundreds of videos on a thousand other topics.
For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Countering Dietary Pollutants & Pesticides
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