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May 11, 2010

You Want Some Antibiotics With That?

Shinkwrapped hamburgerA few years ago, scientists released one of the first studies to examine how diet can affect your exposure to toxic substances. In that case, researchers had a group of Seattle schoolchildren eat an organic diet for five days a week. Almost immediately, pesticide levels in the children's bodies dropped to almost undetectable levels -- and returned to "normal" after they resumed eating a conventional diet.

Now, a group of Korean scientists have looked at what kind of toxins disappear when research subjects stopped eating conventional meat:

People who adopted a vegetarian diet for just five days show
reduced levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies. In particular,
levels of hormone disrupting chemicals and antibiotics used in
livestock were lower after the five-day vegetarian program. The pilot
study suggests that people may be able reduce their exposure to
potentially dangerous chemicals through dietary choices, such as
limiting consumption of animal products like meats and dairy.

Whoa. (Read the Environmental Research article.)

Little work has been done on the intersection of diet and toxic chemical exposure, so I'm sure there are many such happy surprises out there waiting to be discovered. But with controversy raging over routinely feeding livestock sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics, this study provides both fear (that we are indeed exposed to antibiotics through meat consumption) and relief (that we can reduce our exposure by changing our diet).

READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON GRIST.ORG

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