Unfortunately, pesticides and toxic chemicals are here to stay. However, there are several simple steps you can take to significantly reduce your exposure to them and help counteract the damage they may cause.
Whenever possible, choose organic fruits and vegetables. I know they cost more and aren't always available. This is one good reason to have your own garden or befriend someone who does. If you buy non-organic peaches, pears or apples, I strongly suggest washing and peeling them thoroughly. Most of the pesticides tend to be concentrated on or just below the skin on these foods. Since you can't peel the spinach or green beans, and the residue in squash is found throughout the vegetable, I would suggest making sure these items were organically grown if at all possible.
Minimize your use of insecticides and pesticides. If you must use any of these compounds, wear appropriate gloves, clothing and masks to minimize your exposure, and store the containers as far from your living space as possible. There are many natural techniques to keep insects from coming into your home, such as sprinkling cayenne pepper around the edge of the house to repel ants. And, as I discuss in the May 2001 issue of Alternatives, there are natural insecticides available.
On a regular, consistent basis take a quality food-based, multivitamin/mineral complex and include high ORAC value foods. Our U.S. Department of Agriculture recently tested a wide variety of foods for what they call their ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values. This is simply a test which measures the ability of foods and other compounds to subdue oxygen free radicals. By limiting the activity of oxygen free radicals, antioxidants protect cells and their components from this damage. The higher the ORAC value of a food, the more beneficial it is to your health. By the way, the fruit with the highest ORAC value is the prune (5,770), and with a value of 1,770, kale has the highest number among vegetables (see Alternatives Vol. 7, No. 22 for a complete list).
If you have access to a juicer, make fresh juice a part of your daily routine. This is another way to get the 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units a day that I was talking about earlier. Beet juice is particularly good in this respect. Adding beet juice to carrot juice not only sweetens the taste, but also significantly increases your blood's antioxidant capacity. Plus, beet juice stimulates the production and excretion of bile from the liver and gall bladder, further reducing toxin removal from the liver.
Don't go on faddish or extreme diets. While it's possible you may lose weight quickly, it's impossible and unhealthy to stay on these diets for any length of time. Eventually the weight will return and, even worse, losing weight too quickly (more than two or three pounds a week) will release an overwhelming amount of toxins into your system.
You must make sure that your bowels are moving regularly (a minimum of once daily, preferably two or three daily). This is your body's primary means of removing toxins and waste products on a very regular basis. I've devoted many an issue page to this subject over the years.