Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Glyphosate on trial.
A decade of personal data collecting with the assistance of functional medical doctors to reverse environmental allergies, especially the debilitating response to sun exposure, has culminated to the topic of glyphosate. Initially gluten was thought to be the main culprit for disrupting my autoimmune system but it turns out not to be so cut and dried.
What is glyphosate?
Glyphosate is the key ingredient used in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in history. Firstly, in the 1970s crops were sprayed with Roundup to kill weeds. It did such a good job that often the main plants were killed in the process. By 1996, genetically engineered crops were introduced. These "Roundup Ready" crops like wheat, soy, oats and beans, have been designed to survive the direct, heavy applications of glyphosate.
Secondly, plants are also sprayed with glyphosate as they near maturity to speed up the desiccation of the plant and facilitate harvest operations for a much quicker turnaround. Pre-harvest use results in much higher glyphosate residue in foods.
Perhaps most discouraging is the findings of glyphosate in organic foods. While organic farming refuses to incorporate chemical products into its farming system, they can't control residues landing on their crops. Glyphosate has the ability to adhere to water and soil particles long enough to travel through the air or in a stream to nearby organic farms making it nearly unavoidable at this time. It's still worthwhile to support organic farmers who are helping to create a future where more organic farmland means less overall glyphosate in the environment.
“Glyphosate is, in my mind, certainly the most damaging chemical we have on the planet right now. There is so much talk about mercury in our fillings, and vaccines, and all these other things that get a lot of press, but after five years of running a basic science laboratory evaluating this chemical, there is zero question in my mind, that it is the single biggest problem we have threatening human health today.” Zach Bush, M.D.
The dangers of glyphosate.
Four years ago, the World Health Organization’s cancer authority classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Many countries, communities, and businesses have taken or are considering action to restrict glyphosate use. However, national regulators in the U.S. and EU have historically maintained that glyphosate is safe.
These findings suggest that exposure to glyphosate at doses previously deemed safe for human health, may have profound effects on microbiome development and may be an environmental trigger in the development of celiac disease. Over the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of individuals reporting beneficial health effects when eliminating wheat from their diets.
Glyphosate is also patented as an antimicrobial and exposure to it appears to kill microbes in our gut creating dysbiosis through a reduction of microbiome diversity.
We rely on our microbiome to keep our immune system strong and studies have shown it plays a vital role in preventing diabetes, obesity, inflammation, Parkinson’s, and mental health. As it gets destroyed, it makes fighting off toxins that enter our system through leaky gut even more difficult and weakens our ability to keep our immune system and inflammation under control.
How to combat glyphosate.
Stop eating processed foods. Glyphosate is everywhere now. Avoiding wheat in your diet alone doesn't eliminate glyphosate exposure. Almost all processed foods - cereal, granola bars, crackers, chips, pasta - contain soy or corn products.
Eat organic whole plants and fruit. Conventional fruits, legumes and vegetables - apples, almonds, orange juice, dates, sugarcane, avocados - contain high glyphosate levels; eat organic whenever possible. Plants provide fiber, aka pre-biotics, to feed the bacteria in your gut. Meat and animal products contain no natural fibre.
Eat fermented foods. Boost your microbiome with natures' probiotics like lacto-fermented vegetables, kimchi, yoghurt and miso.
Take in nature. Go for a walk and breath. The air in complex ecosystems embeds microbes into your sinuses and upper respiratory tract promoting the balance of microbial diversity of the body.
Hang out with people. It appears that frequent social interactions promote the richness and diversity of microbes - bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses - needed for optimal gut health. Although spending time in close contact with others increases exposure to germs, researchers find that being sociable increases the exposure to 'good' bacteria that may actually keep people healthier.
Learning the science behind glyphosate leaves me thinking we’ve sacrificed our health for short-term profits. I have been taught to view my gut as the garden of my body and glyphosate affects my microbiome the same way it does the soil of the earth.
I'm getting set to undertake a long-term personal experiment where I eliminate the destructive components of my diet and increase the promoters of microbiome diversity. All this in an attempt to literally be able soak up the sun again one day!