It is difficult to clean up environmental contaminants and nearly impossible to remove all chemicals that may be harmful to human health. Thus, some Superfund Research Program (SRP) researchers are looking at ways to reduce the negative health impacts of chemical exposures through the foods we eat.
This research includes understanding how certain foods may be able to protect against chemical toxicity, such as foods high in antioxidants. Researchers also are learning more about how certain diets, including those high in fat, may worsen the negative health effects of chemical exposures. Additionally, researchers are exploring how some foods take up contaminants, like arsenic in rice for example, and finding ways to reduce the accumulation of potentially hazardous chemicals in those foods.
In this month's Science Digest feature, we highlight examples of these types of research within the program. We also describe efforts to reduce exposures and improve public health through prevention and intervention strategies related to nutrition.
Understanding how nutrition can lessen chemical exposure and toxicity can be a relatively inexpensive way for individuals to make a substantial difference. The research provides a positive look at how we, as individuals, may be able to reduce exposure and health effects from potentially hazardous substances. Sometimes improving your health is as simple as what your grandma always told you: eat your veggies, drink water, and go outside.
William A. Suk, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Superfund Research Program