A research study conducted in Korea at a Buddhist Temple has generated some potentially beneficial insights. The study title is: “Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antibiotics and phthalate metabolites: A pilot study with ‘Temple Stay’ participants.”
A “temple stay” in this study means five days in a Buddhist temple, living like monks. Twenty five study participants ate vegetarian food during their stay. They were queried before entering the temple about their dietary habits, and urine samples were also taken at that time. High levels of antibiotics and phthalates were observed in the study participants before their temple stay. Presumably the antibiotic levels were due mainly to meat consumption. Phthalates were also high before entry, and they can also be absorbed through meat consumption. However, they are also found in abundant supply in the manmade environment. They are mainly found in plastics, like food containers, shower curtains, floor tiles, personal care products, sex toys, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and many other applications. (Research about the potential health effects of phthalates on humans is ongoing.)
The researchers found antibiotic and phthalate urinary levels dropped very much after the study participants completed their vegetarian retreat. One, because they were no longer consuming foods high in those chemicals, but also because the body apparently can release some of its ingested, accumulated chemical residues. The results may come as little surprise for people already mindful of exposure to industrial chemicals through food and interacting with plastic products. It also provides some insight into how “detoxing” might work and could confirm there is some hope in the fact the body can release unnatural chemicals to some degree. The study also indicates a vegetarian diet limits exposure to potentially damaging chemicals from our environment. The issue of the impact of a synergy of antibiotics and phthalates in the body was not addressed.
If you are interested in trying such a retreat on your own, there are a number in the US and in other countries. For example, Tassajara in California.
Image Credit: Azwebear
If you are curious about what that very appetizing food is in the photo, Azwebear wrote: “Portobellos, fried tempeh, red onion, and fresh avocado with lemon-tahini dressing on sourdough French bread.”