Can You Flush Pesticides Out of Your Body?

An assortment of steamed vegetables in a bowl.
An assortment of steamed vegetables in a bowl. (Image: tanjichica7/iStock/Getty Images)

Pesticides are used to prevent, repel or kill pests, but most pesticides also contain chemicals that are harmful to people, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pesticides not only include the stuff sprayed on your produce, but also the ant killer under your sink as well as the disinfectant you use on your kitchen floor. Your body is bombarded with these toxic substances daily, according to a 2014 article published in Today’s Dietitian. While the research and science is relatively new, what you eat may affect how your body processes and eliminates these harmful substances from your body. Consult your doctor if concerned about pesticide exposure.

Harmful Effects of Pesticides

How pesticides affect your health varies and depends on the type of pesticide used, how often you’re exposed and the amount you’re exposed to. Some effects you may notice right away, such as burning of the eyes, headache, nausea or vomiting. These symptoms may go away immediately once you’ve removed the pesticide. However, some of the long-term effects of pesticide exposure, such as cancer, may not be noticed for years, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

How Your Body Detoxes

Despite all the claims surrounding various detox diets, your body is able to naturally detox itself every day. As long as they’re in good health, your kidneys and liver are responsible for ridding your body of all the toxic substances it’s exposed to and eliminating them through sweat, urine and feces. The physiological and biochemical process for getting rid of these harmful substances is not completely understood and is currently under investigation, according to Today’s Dietitian.

Diet to Improve Detox

What you eat may improve your body’s natural ability to detox itself. Certain nutrients play a key role in the detoxification process, says Today’s Dietitian. For example, phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts trigger enzymes that help turn toxins into water-soluble substances your body can eliminate in urine or sweat. If you want to help your body eliminate pesticides, fill your diet with nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs and spices, and minimize your intake of processed foods.

Things to Consider

Although everyone benefits from eating a diet filled with whole foods, there is a lack of evidenced-based, peer-reviewed clinical trials on how to use these foods as part of a detox diet, reports Today’s Dietitian. Additionally, detoxing is not safe for everyone, including pregnant and nursing women, young children and people with chronic disease such as kidney or heart disease. To minimize the harmful effects of pesticides, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety suggests you limit or eliminate your exposure, which may include eating organic foods and using natural cleaners such as white vinegar and baking soda.

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