An argument for going organic

As some of you may know I have a wheat sensitivity and have been prone to various health issues as a result of it, over the years a lot of research has gone into trying to figure out why food sensitivities are on the rise and what can be done about them as they have become a big problem. I came across a paper yesterday that was published in 2013 in the journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology, it is essentially a literature review on Glyphosate’s (round-up) role in contemporary health issues. The bottom line of the paper was a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of Glyphosate residues in foods. You can find a copy of the full paper here, or you can continue reading for my synopsis.

Gluten intolerance, including Celiac disease is a worsening problem especially in North America and Europe. It is estimated to effect more than 5% of the population. As we have gained a deeper understanding of the systems effected we have found that it can present many different ways. It can be associated with nutritional deficiencies, depression, reproductive issues, increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. In the paper they propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®, is the most important causal factor in the development of the various forms of gluten intolerance. It was demonstrated that fish exposed to Glyphosate develop digestive problems that are similar to Celiac disease. Glyphosate can negatively effect gut bacteria which is associated with gluten intolerance.  Glyphosate has been shown to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes, these enzymes are important to detoxifying the body in the liver and have many other important metabolic duties. Often in gluten intolerance there are deficiencies and/or impairments in these enzymes.  Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with Celiac disease and the authors note that they can be attributed to Glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. So basically the Glyphosate binds them up and makes them unavailable for absorption into the system. Glyphosate has also been shown to deplete tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine all of which have been associated with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Glyphosate has been associated with an increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,  as well as reproductive issues such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. The authors state that Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. They also attribute  the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America to Glyphosate being used to ripen the sugar cane.

Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease represent the extreme end of the spectrum with regard to the impact of Glyphosate and it is likely that the chemical is causing a myriad of issues in people without formal gluten intolerance diagnosis’. Because Glyphosate effects so many different systems and can damage DNA, it’s impact can be insidious and it may amplify other ongoing health issues.

In addition to Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease, it is thought that Glyphosphate may also be linked to:

  1. Autism
  2. Autoimmune diseases
  3. Cancer
  4. Parkinson’s
  5. Alzheimer’s disease
  6. Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
  7. Cardiovascular disease
  8. Depression
  9. Infertility

I dug in a little deeper….

In another article published in the journal Toxicology on June 13, 2017 it was demonstrated that Glyphosate-based herbicide leads to Glutamate neurotoxicity and that long-term exposure to Glyphosate is a risk factor for depression. It also demonstrated that oxidative stress is involved in Glyphosphate induced neurotoxicity and that Glyphosate binds to NMDA receptors leading to Calcium influx. In other words, it does bad things to the brain.

In another article published May 1, 2017 in the journal experimental and toxicological pathology it was shown that Roundup may interfere with spermatogenesis and impair fertility in males. Unfortunately some rats had to suffer for this research.

I also found another paper written by the authors of the first article that stated: “Contrary to the current widely-held misconception that Glyphosate is relatively harmless to humans, the available evidence shows that Glyphosate may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies. In addition to autism, these include gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, cachexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and ALS, among others. While Glyphosate is obviously not the only environmental toxin to contribute to these diseases and conditions, Glyphosate’s ability to disrupt the gut bacteria, to impair serum transport of sulfate and phosphate, and to interfere with CYP enzymes, logically progresses to this multitude of diseased states, through well-established biological processes. And Glyphosate’s disruption of the body’s ability to detoxify other environmental toxins leads to synergistic enhancement of toxicity. While genetics surely play a role in susceptibility, genetics may rather influence which of these conditions develops in the context of Glyphosate exposure, rather than whether any of these conditions develops.” You can read the rest here.

And the list goes on…..

So clearly there’s something to this pesticide problem and as someone that lives in an agricultural area with an observed increase in anencephaly births among other things, this hits home and it hits hard.

Remember that the body is actually pretty good at cleansing itself, and can clear low levels of toxins without problems. A little bit of exposure isn’t going to do anything. The issue is when there is either a large acute exposure that overwhelms the system or a chronic exposure that takes place over a long period of time. You can avoid the large acute exposures to glyphosate by not drinking or bathing in the stuff and you can avoid the chronic exposure by limiting your intake of it.

The following items have the highest levels of glyphosates:

  1. Anything processed
  2. Corn
  3. Soy
  4. Sugar Beets (sugar)
  5. Canola
  6. Cotton

Unfortunately the Glyphosate is incorporated into the plants cells, so it’s not something that you can wash off. The best way to avoid it is by eating organic minimally processed foods that have not been exposed to it. My favorite way to do this is to grow your own food when you can! Below are some other things that have been suggested by a Functional Medicine Specialist.

  • Take activated charcoal or rice bran powder in aiding elimination of organophosphates and Glyphosate after exposure
  • Maintain adequate mineral status by taking a multi-mineral supplement that includes trace minerals
  • Support Glutathione production with N-acetylcysteine, glycine and Glutamine or oral liposomal glutathione
  • Support  liver detoxification by avoiding alcohol and taking liver support, like silymarin, lipoid acid

It’s not likely that Round-up is going to go away any time soon, but we can be the change we want to see by demanding that new alternatives are developed, and our voices can be heard by choosing products that reflect our values.

I hope you found this helpful and I wish you all the best in health.  Namaste.

Citations for articles that I was not able to link out to:

1. Cattani DCesconetto PA et al. Developmental exposure to glyphosate-based herbicide and depressive-like behavior in adult offspring: Implication of glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress. Toxicology. 2017 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Owagboriaye FO et al. Reproductive toxicity of Roundup herbicide exposure in male albino rat. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2017 May 1. [Epub ahead of print]