New research offers alarming warnings, suggesting that pesticides and contaminants found on the produce and whole grains that are so prevalent in the Mediterranean diet may be doing your body more harm than good.
Instead of providing the health benefits that the Mediterranean diet is so famed for, the study instead shows that switching from an ordinary “Western” diet to a traditional Mediterranean diet may triple one’s intake of environmental contaminants, thereby resulting in a weakening of the human immune system, reduction of fertility, and even stunting the growth and development of children.
Several of the environmental contaminants discovered as a result of the study may even affect hormones in the body.
“Many of the synthetic pesticides detected in both food and urine samples in this study are confirmed or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC). The 10 times higher pesticide exposure from conventional foods may therefore provide a mechanistic explanation for the lower incidence of overweight/obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer associated with high levels of organic food consumption in epidemiological/cohort studies,” explains Professor Carlo Leifert, Study Project Manager.
Unless, of course, everything in the Mediterranean diet is farmed organically, in which case slashes the intake of these contaminants by 90 percent.
In the study, conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Oslo, participants ate “ordinary Western foods” for a week prior to the study commencement. The participants then provided urine samples before all heading off to a farm on the Greek Island of Crete for two weeks.
Once in Crete, the group was divided into two – one half eating food cultivated normally, whilst the other half consumed totally organic produce only.
“There is growing evidence from observational studies that the health benefits of increasing fruit, vegetables and whole grain consumption are partially diminished by the higher pesticide exposure associated with these foods. Our study demonstrates that consumption of organic foods allows consumers to change to a healthier diet, without an increased intake of pesticides,” the study team from the University of Oslo concludes.
However given the small size of the 27-participant-strong study, researchers say it is still too early for health officials to start advising against the Mediterranean diet, believing that more research is necessary to confirm the findings.
Regardless, Mediterranean diet lovers may be wise to take note. If you’re not going organic, you may be doing your body more harm than good.
“This study provides clear evidence that both our diet and the way we produce food may affect the level of exposure to synthetic chemical and ultimately our health,” says Newcastle University’s Professor Chris Seal.