dirty dozen fruits

Pesticides and Fertility: A Missing Link

woman in grocery store in vegetable section

By Dr. Chris D. Meletis

A new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Internal Medicine in October 2017, observed the impact of pesticide exposure from dietary intake of fruits and vegetables on the reproductive health of 325 women undergoing infertility treatment as part of the Environment and Reproductive Health Study. The study participants recorded their intake of fruits and vegetables via food intake questionnaires, and the researchers used data from the US Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Data Program to evaluate whether the fruits and vegetables consumed had high or low levels of pesticide residues. The study found that "women who ate more than two servings of high-pesticide fruits or vegetables each day, compared with women who ate an average of one each day, were 18% less likely to become pregnant and 26% less likely to have a live birth than women with the lowest exposure.

But, wait, I thought eating fruits and vegetables was good for my health and fertility.

The old adage "moderation in all things" definitely applies when eating to support your reproductive health and fertility. So, yes, fruits and vegetables are typically considered healthy food choices - they provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But, first and foremost, we must ensure that our bodies are fertile ground for pregnancy. An important step in doing so is to remove the toxin burdens of modern life, which includes decreasing our intake of pesticide-laden foods. The Harvard Study speaks loudly on this huge "missing link" to successfully maximizing fertility.

This news about the negative impact of pesticides on fertility is both daunting and liberating. Its unsettling to read that healthy foods can have a negative impact. But, many of my patients find that removing the toxin burdens of modern life is liberating - it helps them feel better and positively impacts their fertility.

How do I know which fruits and vegetables are safe to eat?

Each year, the Environmental Working Group tests foods for their toxic burden, and uses this information to build out their "Dirty Dozen" list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. In 2017, the EWG discovered that almost 70 percent of 48 non-organic fruits and veggie samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. A single strawberry sampled tested positive for 20 different pesticide residues. It gets worse. I know that many of us think of spinach as the go to for a super healthy salad, but, unfortunately researchers discovered DDT, a pesticide that was banned in 1972, in a number of spinach samples. Furthermore, spinach samples tested positive for twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

I encourage all my patients to either totally avoid the Dirty Dozen foods unless they are organically grown. Also, the EWG also creates list called the "Clean 15" to help as you shop for safer choices. As the Harvard study indicates, staying away from the Dirty Dozen and choosing from the Clean 15 could very well make a significant, positive impact on your fertility. And, as you prepare to get pregnant, consider supporting your body's natural detoxification systems with a dietary supplement like FertileDetox.

Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen Fruits and Veggies for 2017

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

Environmental Working Group's Clean 15 for 2017

  • Sweet corn
  • Avocado
  • Pineapple
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Papaya
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

Fertility Talk: Fertility and Food

Dr. Chris Meletis

Dr. Chris MeletisDr. Chris Meletis is an educator, international author and lecturer. His personal mission is “Changing World’s Health One Person at a Time.” Dr Meletis has authored 18 books and over 200 national scientific articles in journals including Natural Health, Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, Life Extension, Natural Pharmacy, and PubMed.gov articles.

Dr. Meletis served as Dean of Naturopathic Medicine and Chief Medical Officer for 7 years for the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now the National University of Natural Medicine). He was awarded the 2003 Physician of the Year by the American Association of Naturopathic Physician of the Year by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He has a deep passion for helping the underprivileged and spearheaded the creation of 16 free natural medicine healthcare clinics in the Portland metropolitan area of Oregon.

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