I find that a small but growing percentage of my patients have gluten sensitivity issues, some with true gluten allergies, others who simply have a negative health reaction when they ingest gluten. This is especially true of my patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (see book or past blogs).
In 2012, the United States used at least 283.5 million pounds of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready).
For those who are not concerned about the impact this has on the environment or on our quality of life, this number may not be too alarming. For the millions of people who have health issues as a result of gluten sensitivity, the foods laden with glyphosate and Bt-toxin are a critical issue and an assault on the body.
Approximately 6-7% of the United States population, roughly 20 million people, are classified as non-celiac gluten-sensitive. Dr. Ford, a pediatrician in New Zealand and author of The Gluten Syndrome, as well as Dr. Fine, a gastroenterologist, believe that gluten intolerance could be closer to 50% of the population.
“There are so many people who are sick,” Dr. Ford says. “At least 10% are gluten-sensitive, and it’s probably more like 30%. I was sticking my neck out years ago when I said at least 10% of the population is gluten-sensitive. My medical colleagues were saying gluten sensitivity didn’t exist. We’ll probably find it’s more than 50% when we finally settle on a number.”
The 2009 study, Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease, which was published in the journal, Gastroenterology, found that the rate of undiagnosed celiac disease has increased by 4x in the United States since the 1950’s.
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder which results from the ingestion of grains that contain gluten (wheat, spelt, rye, barley and cross-contaminated oats). Symptoms of Celiac disease include diarrhea, skin rashes, nausea, anemia, and depression. It is associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies, and it can cause reproductive issues. Celiac disease comes with an increased risk of kidney problems, thyroid disease, and even cancer.
This would lead a person to wonder what has happened within the last 60 years that could account for such a sharp increase in both gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
We can look at one important piece of the puzzle when looking for an answer to this question… Roundup Ready herbicide. GreenMedInfo explains how glyphosate can cause an imbalance in the gut flora that can lead to gluten intolerance.
Gluten-sensitive individuals (in particular, those with celiac disease), frequently have a gut flora imbalance. Cesarean sections increase the risk for gluten sensitivities, while breastfeeding reduces the risk. The reason for this is likely because of each one’s effect on the microbial balance within the infant’s gut. Glyphosate, which is used on GM crops, is not only an herbicide, but it is also a potent antibiotic. Even minimal exposure to glyphosate can significantly reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria in the stomach and encourage the growth of harmful strains. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria can cause inflammation, immune reactions, and/or leaky gut, all of which are linked to gluten-related disorders.
Glyphosate isn’t the only component of GMO agriculture that is problematic. There is the Bt-toxin, which is spliced into GMO crops like corn, soy, and cotton, and that also causes problems.
This potent insecticide kills pests and other insects by punching holes in their digestive tracts. This is what the Bt-toxin does to human cells as well. It does not break down in the digestive tract and has been detected in as many as 93% of pregnant women who were tested, as well as 80% of their unborn babies.
In addition to that, Bt-toxin can trigger the immune system and cause it to dysfunction. The Institute for Responsible Technology reported that when mice were exposed to Bt-toxin, they had a direct immune response to it. They then had reactions to foods which had not caused a reaction beforehand. Something about the Bt-toxin primed the immune system to react to other, once benign, foods. Humans who are exposed to Bt-toxin may react in a similar manner. This means that eating GM corn could lead to the development of gluten or other food sensitivities in a direct way.
Both the Bt-toxin and glyphosate caused damage to the lining of the intestinal tract in animal tests. This same flattening is also seen with those who have sensitivities to gluten or suffer from celiac disease.
Research indicates that Bt-toxin, glyphosate, and GMO crops are associated with the following conditions. These can cause or aggravate an intolerance to gluten:
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Compromised gut bacteria
- Autoimmune disorders (ie Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- Weakened digestion
- Impairment of the intestinal wall
Most of my patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome suffer with some form of gut problem such as IBS and food sensitivities. This is why I always recommend all my patients try an Elimination Diet, which can be found more extensively on my blog.
A study published in Interdisciplinary Toxicology established a connection between the exposure of people to glyphosates in Europe and North America and the rise of celiac disease. The researchers involved in the study found that the ability of glyphosates to bond to chemicals like iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals contributes to the development of celiac disease. Other chemical deficiencies, such as tryptophan and tyrosine, are associated with celiac disease as well. They match the depletion of amino acids, which also occurs when someone is exposed to in glyphosate.
It’s important to note here that patients with celiac disease are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This has recently been linked to glyphosate exposure as well.
Reproductive issues such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects are commonly associated with celiac disease and can also be explained by glyphosate exposure. The research team reported:
“Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We argue that the practice of “ripening” sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.”
This is an important call to action for our government. In the meantime, it is up to us to carefully monitor the food and products we ingest.