© Sarah Beesley

Chemicals in the form of pesticides and herbicides are being used with increasing frequency in the production of our food. Agricultural chemicals have over the years, been sold to the public as “safe” when in reality little testing as to the long term  effects of these chemicals on human health has been carried out. In recent years this has been increasingly called into question as it is now being discovered that some of the carrier chemicals in these products which were considered inert, may actually be more toxic than the so-called active ingredients. Many carrier chemicals have never been tested singularly, let alone in combination with the active ingredients as a complete cocktail.

Over the past 4-5 decades there have been numerous instances where so-called “safe” chemicals have been withdrawn after clearly detrimental health effects have been noted. (Think DDT and 2-45-T.) At present a particular herbicide called glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) is coming under scrutiny as suspicions about its role in the rise of gluten and grain allergies increase.

Glyphosate – Long Term Effects Unknown

For over three decades Dr. Stephanie Seneff has researched biology and technology, publishing over 170 scholarly peer-reviewed articles in the course of that time. In recent years she has concentrated on the relationship between nutrition and health, tackling such topics as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health. A specific area of interest for her has been the impact of chemicals such as glyphosate (Roundup) on human health when they enter the food chain and the mechanisms by which they affect us.

Glyphosate and Gut Flora

Corn, soy and wheat fields are commonly sprayed with Roundup prior to harvesting. These grains make up the vast proportion of the Western world’s diet. Monsanto as the producer of Roundup, has always claimed that Roundup is harmless to humans.

Roundup is a herbicide. Bacteria, fungi, algae, parasites and plants use a seven-step metabolic route known as the shikimate pathway for the biosynthesis of essential amino acids. Glyphosate inhibits this pathway causing the plant to die, making it an effective herbicide. Monsanto’s stand is that because humans don’t have this shikimate pathway, Roundup is perfectly safe for use in food production.

Dr. Seneff points out however, that our gut bacteria do have this pathway and that this is crucial because these bacteria supply our body with important amino acids and play an important regulatory role for our immune systems. Glyphosate residues in our food can kill our beneficial gut bacteria, allowing pathogens to grow in their place. The resulting flora change alters the feedback to our immune system.

Glyphosate also interferes with the synthesis of important amino acids including methionine which is used in detoxification processes and it can lead to a shortage in some neurotransmitters and folate. It may affect the use of important minerals like iron, cobalt and manganese in the body.

Many of the chemicals in Roundup are untested because they’re classified as “inert”. Yet according to a 2014 study in BioMed Research International, some of these chemicals are capable of amplifying the toxic effects of glyphosate hundreds of times over. Testing has shown glyphosate to be present in unusually high quantities in the breast milk of mothers in the US, at anywhere from 760 to 1,600 times the allowable limits in European drinking water. Urine testing has shown that Americans can have ten times the glyphosate accumulation of Europeans; a fact that is consistent with the differences in the way their food is produced.

The Ag Research website in NZ states, “Glyphosate is used extensively on orchards and grapevines and by vegetable growers, grain croppers and livestock farmers. It is crucial to those who use it to kill pastures before planting seeds by direct drilling, rather than after ploughing, in an effort to prevent loss of valuable topsoil.” It is often sprayed on fields just prior to harvest to speed up the process of making the field reploughable.

Any crop sprayed with Roundup prior to harvest or grown in soil treated with Roundup is likely to have some residue of that substance present. When we eat foods with glyphosate residues these have the ability to affect our gut flora, and our gut flora is one of the primary regulators for our immune systems. Dr. Stephanie Seneff ‘s research points to this being a potentially substantial reason for the increase in  allergies, autism and immune-related diseases.

Chlorine – Another Bug Killer

Ultimately, anything that regularly disturbs the gut environment has the potential to cause faulty immune function. Chlorinated water has similar effects to Roundup on the gut flora. Chlorine is a bug killer used to sanitise swimming pools and to treat drinking water. When swallowed, it does the same job of killing bacteria in our gut that it does in a swimming pool; albeit in lower concentrations and more slowly. Unless measures are taken to supply the gut with good bacteria to replace the affected bacteria population, the gate is left open for bad bacteria and yeasts to grow in their place.

Negative flora changes of this type can lead to the development of food intolerance and allergies. The inflammation that results from what is technically a low-grade gut infection can lead to a compromised gut lining and “leaky gut”. Leaky gut allows food particles to leak into the tissues outside of the gut, resulting in an immune response both inside and outside of the gut.

Flora Restoration

Avoidance of chemicals such as chlorine and glyphosate can be achieved with the use of the right water filters and the consumption of spray-free or organic food. Growing your own spray-free food is recommended. If you like to swim, try to go to salt water pools or to swim in the sea.

With the right help, gut flora imbalances can be corrected. In all cases of disturbed gut flora, the sources or driving factors of the disturbance need to be identified and removed where possible. Any digestive problems must be addressed because poorly digested food is often both part of cause and the continuation of the problem. Probiotics and fermented foods can help, but the flora in these need the right conditions to establish themselves. this is why strengthening the digestion and resolving existing digestive problems is so important.

If you have ongoing digestive problems and need help to correct these, please contact us through our contact form or call us on 06 378 7705 for an appointment.