The foods you consume on a daily basis can do one of two things. They can provide the nutrition needed for gut health, growth, detoxification, energy production, hormone and neurotransmitter synthesis as well as overall bodily health and function. Or your foods can cause toxicity in your body, lead to inflammation production and therefore contribute to hormone imbalance, among many other health complications.
First things first, I will always encourage a diet based around whole foods. Eliminating the processed trans-fat, preservative laden, sugary so called ‘foods’ and instead building the diet up with loads of fresh vegetables, some fruits, nutritious olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds, coconut products and ethically raised animal products. Fermented foods and broths are also encouraged as a part of a nourishing diet for hormone health.
You may be following this ‘to a t’, but still noticing niggling health issues. Your culprit may lie in a nasty substance called glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide Roundup. It is made up of a glycine molecule with phosphate attached to it. Sounds pretty safe, right?
You may be rolling eyes as you’ve read the dodgy science claiming glyphosate is safe in the human body, is unable to cross the blood brain barrier and is therefore effectively excreted. What Monsanto (producer of glyphosate) doesn’t want you to know is that the damaging effects occur once the glyphosate is combined with it’s special excipients.
Initially glyphosate alone was proving to be unsuccessful at penetrating into and eradicating weeds. Instead, a blend of the surfactant polyoxy-ethyleneamine (POEA) mixed with glyphosate allowed the substance to absorb into the cells and effectively kill the weed. Between the pure chemical and the ‘mixture’ is a difference of increased toxicity by 125 fold!
The studies which Monsanto want you to see, are those using the pure chemical and not the actual mixture which is used in conventional farming practises. In America, Roundup is also used just before harvest to make for an easier (on the machinery) harvesting process. Majority of cereal and legume cropping within Australia use Roundup for a knock-down effect, before sowing the seed into the poisoned ground. Other than damaging soil bacteria, glyphosate is absorbed into the new seedlings.
Roundup containing glyphosate is widely used on genetically modified (GM) crops, such as soy, corn, wheat, canola and other grains. GM farming began in the 90’s and since this time the food and water detection of glyphosate has increased dramatically. Seeds are genetically modified to tolerate higher levels of the spray, so that the actual crop wont be killed off when targeting the weeds. Higher levels of Roundup, therefore leaves a greater residue of glyphosate. The chemical is usually destroyed within 24 – 48 hours, but what studies don’t take into account is it’s ability to bind to metals.
When bound to metals, such as those in the soil, glyphosate can last in the environment from 6 weeks, up to 20 years. The time glyphosate remains in the environment and it’s subsequent toxicity can be determined by what it is bound to. For example, the glyphosate binds with Mercury from the soil, causing issues with heavy metal buildup. As the glyphosate is attached to and cleaved within the metal, the bound glyphosate is easily penetrated into the plant and once consumed, absorbed within your body. Among symptoms and conditions of heavy metal toxicity, glyphosate can contribute to numerous health conditions.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF GLYPHOSATE
Due to the synergy of the combination with surfactant excipients, we now know glyphosate is easily absorbed into plants. Consumption of a food exposed to glyphosate therefore allows a delivery of the chemical into your body. Glyphosate extensive use, increasing detection in our water and food supply, together with the improved absorption in humans (and animals for that matter), is now contributing to increased measurements in human blood and breastmilk.
Upon consumption of foods sprayed with glyphosate, the chemical literally forces opens the tight gap junctions, which cells make for protection from the outside world. It does this by influencing a protein which connects these cells together. Foods grown using glyphosate can disrupt your significant microbiome balance (and our good bacterias ability to produce essential amino acids through the shikimate pathway), contribute to intestinal permeability (leaky gut lining) and impact your ability to safely detoxify from hormones and toxins.(1) Glyphosate easily permeates through your gut and is stored within your body, where it contributes to health issues.
There’s a compounding effect with grain consumption, as the gluten and gliadin proteins found in grains switch on genes that cause a leaky gut. Preservatives in processed foods also fuel leaky gut and cause inflammation. Having a leaky gut contributes to a steady leakage of bacteria and undigested foods into your bloodstream. This contributes to chronic inflammation and depending on where the inflammation occurs, conditions of varying degrees and locations in your body can develop. For example, inflammation in the kidneys can contribute overtime to kidney disease.
So you’ve heard that drinking glyphosate is completely safe? Just think of the farmers in India who have had glyphosate driven devastation to their soil life and crop yield. Sadly many choose to end their life by drinking glyphosate and their ultimate cause of death is from kidney failure.
Intestinal permeability doesn’t stop at a leaky gut, but also contributes to a leaky blood brain barrier and the resulting influx of toxins and inflammation in the brain contributes to conditions and symptoms of alzheimers, autism, ADHD, depression, mood disorders, poor memory and behavioural changes. Glyphosate can further effect the cellular barriers of your blood vessels and contributes to health issues stemming from the cardiovascular system.
Glyphosate can also bind to and cause deficiency’s in beneficial minerals, such as manganese, the mineral required for health mitochondrial function (your energy producing powerhouse of your cells).
Herbicides (including atrazine and glyphosate), (2) pesticides (including insecticides permethrin, DEET and organochlorine DDT), (3,4) antibiotics and fertilisers used in conventional farming practices are known endocrine disruptors. Disturbingly, studies in fish and amphibians have linked atrazine use to increased oestrogen production, with some males developing ovaries. (5,6,7)
Glyphosate has been linked to impairment of your liver detoxification pathways which are crucial for healthy hormone metabolism. Specifically, glyphosate is responsible for the inhibition of the enzyme cytochrome P450, which is found throughout the body and has the role of grabbing hold of oestrogen, ready for liver metabolism.
Additionally, glyphosate damages your gut microbiome, which also play an important role in oestrogen metabolism. This disruption can lead to the hormone imbalance symptoms of oestrogen dominance. Learn more about that here. According to Neurologist Dr David Pearlmutter, before its current herbicide use, glyphosate was originally patented as an antibiotic. (8) Exposure to glyphosate has shown to alter the balance between pathogens and beneficial bacteria in your gut, along with contributing to deficiencies in a key hormone health mineral, selenium and the detox savvy amino acid, sulphur. (9)
Oestrogen dominance and glyphosate exposure can both lead to issues with your thyroid gland health. Glyphosate specifically inhibits the release of your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from your pituitary gland, to your thyroid. This contributes to a state of hypothyroidism. More on the symptoms of an under-active thyroid found here. Roundup use has also been shown to several effect the production of your adrenal hormones and therefore a major contributor of adrenal fatigue. (10)
DISRUPTION IN SLEEP
Pineal gland dysfunction can occur from the exposure to glyphosate. Among heavy metals, aluminium and mercury, glyphosate can disturbingly cross your brain’s protective wall- the blood brain barrier and can therefore disrupt the ability of your brain’s pineal gland, to produce sulphate. (11) Through sulphate production, this gland is responsible for the regulation of the restorative sleep hormone and antioxidant, melatonin. A deficiency in sulphate contributes to disturbed sleep patterns as a result of melatonin deficiency.
Disruptions in sleep patterns can also stem from brain chemical imbalances, such as low serotonin. Low serotonin can be caused by exposure to the gut disruptive glyphosate. As healthy gut bacteria are crucial for serotonin production, the impact glyphosate has on gut bacteria can lead to a serotonin deficiency.
REPLACEMENT OF GLYCINE RICH TISSUE
Glycine is an anti-inflammatory amino acid which plays important roles in your body to support DNA synthesis, neurotransmitter function (brain health), detoxification and makes up your supply of connective tissue for healthy skin, muscle and joints. Being made up of glycine, glyphosate can negatively influence the enzymes and inhibit pathways required to produce glycine in your body. Glyphosate mimics glycine and blocks the uptake of the amino acid where it is required for these important glycine dependant functions. Considering glycine is a precursor for your most important molecule glutathione, this could have disastrous consequences throughout your body.
Across at mercola.com, Dr Joseph Marcela states:
“The increase in glyphosate usage in the United States is extremely well correlated with the concurrent increase in the incidence and/or death rate of multiple diseases, including several cancers. (12)
These include thyroid cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and myeloid leukemia. The World Health Organization (WHO) revised its assessment of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential in March 2015, relabeling it as a “probable carcinogen.” (13,14)
HOW YOU CAN AVOID GLYPHOSATE
The importance of consuming organic produce with today’s spray-happy farming mindset, is important if you are striving to minimize your toxic exposure and enhance your gut and hormone health. Conventional farming practices utilise toxic chemicals which can enter your foods by means of fertilisers, sewage sludge, pesticides and herbicides. These toxins are absorbed into the farmed foods therefore entering your body once consumed. As I outlined previously, glyphosate has detrimental impacts on gut and neurological health. (11)
To make buying organic more affordable, seek out local farmer’s markets. Produce will be in season, fresher and you have the bonus of knowing and communicating with the local farmers. Have a chat to the farmers as they may not be certified organic, but they do their best to use minimal to no sprays on their produce. See my favourite organic stores and markets here.
For vegetables and fruits, aim to firstly source organic produce for the foods most highly sprayed (see the Dirty Dozen list here), or better still, try growing some of these at home. Growing your own produce (spray free of course) is a great activity to enjoy with friends and family and you get the added benefit of spending time in nature and gaining the Vitamin D rich sunshine.
In place of spraying around your home, control your weeds by using thick mulch cover in your garden beds, use old fashioned weeding where needed and invest in a whipper snipper and mower for larger areas.
To avoid the recycling of glyphosate into your water supply, invest in a quality water filter.
I understand there will be times that you can’t source organic or homegrown produce. It is therefore important to have some practices in place that help your gut and liver to process toxins, encourage healthy elimination from your body and therefore reduce the effects of toxins such as glyphosate on your hormone health. You can equip yourself with this important info across here. Building up your nutritional status is also crucial to offset toxin accumulation in your body. You can learn about supplementing with important vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants in my book, Balanced, The Natural Way To Healthy Hormones.
GO GLYPHOSATE FREE FOR HORMONE HEALTH
Take that next step to balance your hormones and focus on restricting the exposure you have to glyphosate, the dangerous active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Limit grain products in your diet, and seek GM free foods on your weekly shop. Go organic where possible by purchasing from local farmers markets, organic stores, delivery companies, or better still, start to grown your own spray free produce at home.
Also invest in a quality water filter, learn to support your liver and gut health to encourage healthy detoxification in your body and boost your nutritional status to compete against the effects of toxins, through supplementation. Among supporting your hormone health, going glyphosate free will have endless positive benefits for the health of you and your and loved ones.
More support for your hormone health journey is found here.
(2) Omran NE, Salama WM. The endocrine disruptor effect of the herbicides atrazine and glyphosate on Biomphalaria alexandrina snails. Toxicol Ind Health. 2016 Apr;32(4):656-65. doi: 10.1177/0748233713506959. Epub 2013 Nov 8.
(3) Manikkam M, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Tracey R, Haque MM, Skinner MK. Transgenerational actions of environmental compounds on reproductive disease and identification of epigenetic biomarkers of ancestral exposures.PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e31901.
(4) Schug TT, Janesick A, Blumberg B, Heindel JJ. Endocrine disrupting chemicals and disease susceptibility. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2011 Nov;127(3-5):204-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2011.08.007. Epub 2011 Aug 27
(5) Moore, A. and C. Waring, Mechanistic effects of a triazine pesticide on reproductive endocrine function in mature male Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) parr. Pesticide Biochem. Physiol., 1998. 62: p. 41-50.
(6) Spano, L., et al., Effects of atrazine on sex steroid dynamics, plasma vitellogenin concentration and gonad development in adult goldfish (Carassius auratus). Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam), 2004. 66(4): p. 369-379.
(7) Hayes, T., et al., Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically relevant doses. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2002. 99: p. 5476-5480.
(8) FX Medicine Podcast Central. The Grain Dilemma with Dr David Perlmutter. 13 May 2016.
(10) A Pandey and M Rudraiah, Toxicology Reports 2 (2015) 1075-1085.
(11) Seneff, S, Swanson, N, Li, C. Aluminum and Glyphosate Can Synergistically Induce Pineal Gland Pathology: Connection to Gut Dysbiosis and Neurological Disease. Agricultural Sciences, 6, 42-70. doi: 4236/as.2015.61005.
(12) Morley WA, Seneff S. Diminished brain resilience syndrome: A modern day neurological pathology of increased susceptibility to mild brain trauma, concussion, and downstream. 2014 Jun 18;5:97. doi: 10.4103/2152-7806.134731. eCollection 2014.
(13) Swanson, N.L., Leu, A., Abrahamson, J. & Wallet, B. Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America. J. Organic Systems 9 (2014) 6–37.
(14) World Health Organization. IARC Monographs Volume 112: Evaluation of Five Organophosphate Insecticides and Herbicides . (20 March 2015).