Glyphosate is one of the active ingredients in Roundup® – the most commonly used herbicide in the world. Most of us are exposed to glyphosate every day, often without realizing it. In fact, an estimated 93% of Americans have glyphosate in their bodies, with children having the highest level, according to a 2015 study by the University of California at San Francisco. Glyphosate can be found in breast milk, drinking water, rain samples, and the food we feed our families. It’s sprayed on food crops, playgrounds, parks, school grounds, and yards. So, how can you escape it?
It’s nearly impossible to completely avoid glyphosate, but there are steps you can take to dramatically reduce your exposure. Here’s how and why I protect myself from glyphosate.
Why I Protect Myself from Glyphosate:
- Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic, which means it kills “good” microbes in your gastrointestinal tract, as well as “good” microbes in the soil. You need those microbes in order to survive. In fact, you are more microbe than human! For instance, it’s estimated that you have roughly 10 bacterial cells for every one human cell. Those microbes help regulate every system and every cell in your body. So, if you kill them off by eating antibiotics, like glyphosate, you are increasing your likelihood of developing an illness or disease.
- Most toxins made in nature are fat-soluble, which is good because the toxin can be sequestered into your fat cells and away from your brain. But, glyphosate is water-soluble. That means it can damage your gut barrier and travel through your blood to your blood-brain barrier, where it can damage those cells and allow toxins to enter your brain, like heavy metals. We believe glyphosate may transport aluminum into the brain and arsenic into the kidneys.
- Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, which means it can lead to adverse neurological, reproductive, developmental, and immunological effects.
- Glyphosate can shut down the cytochrome P450 detox pathway, which can result in toxins accumulating in your body.
- Glyphosate may contribute to the formation of Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, and sleep disorders because it blocks the shikimate pathway. Plants and bacteria use the shikimate pathway to make essential aromatic amino acids, including: tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. You do not have the shikimate pathway, so you rely on plants and the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract to make those essential amino acids. But, glyphosate blocks the shikimate pathway, which inhibits the plants and bacteria from making the amino acids you need in order to be healthy. For instance, bacteria in your gut make tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin. In fact, roughly 95% of your serotonin is made in your gut – not in your brain, like previously thought. Consequently, if the shikimate pathway is blocked by glyphosate then you could be low in serotonin, which can lead to blood sugar dysregulation, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Low serotonin can also lead to low levels of melatonin because serotonin is converted into melatonin. Decreased levels of melatonin can lead to decreased gut motility, difficulty sleeping and sleep disorders, as well as dysregulation of the reproductive and immune systems. The bacteria in your gut also make tyrosine, which is converted to dopamine. Low levels of dopamine have been linked with Parkinson’s disease.
- Glyphosate is a chelator, which means it grabs on to certain metals, such as: iron, copper and manganese. When sprayed on food crops, glyphosate pulls metals out of the soil, making them unavailable to the plant. Without metals, the immune system of the plant is weakened. When you eat those sick plants, you can become deficient in those micronutrients too. In addition, bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract also need metals to function properly. Manganese, for example, helps protect bacteria from oxidative damage. So, when you eat glyphosate, your bacteria also become weaker, which results in you becoming more susceptible to disease.
- This area is not fully understood, but we are learning that glyphosate has a synergistic effect with gluten, which could be one reason why we are witnessing an increase in cases of gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, and gluten allergy. We think glyphosate is able to change the gluten-fiber ratio. It may actually attach to the gliadin (part of gluten), making wheat highly indigestible and resulting in an inflammatory immune response. We also believe that glyphosate upregulates the intestinal receptors for gliadin (which is where gluten binds). With more gluten binding to the lining of the intestine, the odds of developing leaky gut increase dramatically.
- Glyphosate was declared a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization in 2015. In 2017, the state of California listed glyphosate as a known cancer-causing agent. In 2018, the world was stunned as a jury courageously declared the chemical to be responsible for a dying man’s cancer. And now, in 2019, two additional juries have found glyphosate guilty of contributing to cancer.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to protect the EPA, and the manufacturer of glyphosate while endangering the American people. Read more HERE.
How I Protect Myself from Glyphosate:
- I don’t spray my lawn or garden with Roundup® or any glyphosate-containing weedkiller. As an alternative, we pull unwanted weeds by hand or spray with a 1:1 mixture of organic vinegar and water.
- I ask my neighbors not to spray their lawn with glyphosate-containing chemicals.
- I place my trust with my local farmers. I call or visit local farms and ask if any chemicals are sprayed on the crops or on the feed that is given to the animals. If chemicals are used, I encourage the farm to stop by letting them know that if they change to organic practices, I will become a customer. If chemicals are not used then I support that farm with my dollars.
- I grow my own vegetables and fruits, when possible, which ensures they are free of harmful chemicals.
- I buy organic food at the grocery store. I look for the USDA Organic seal AND the words “100% organic” on the package or label. Currently, USDA National Organic Program standards do not allow the use of glyphosate on organic crops, and processed foods are not allowed to contain glyphosate levels that are above the glyphosate residue maximum limit of 5% of the EPA or FDA tolerance for glyphosate. So, looking for the USDA organic label is a start. However, this label contains serious flaws. For instance, the organic regulations are not adequately enforced. Consequently, we’re learning that even organic foods can be contaminated with glyphosate and that conventionally grown grains have been sold as “organic.” However, while it is far from perfect, unless you buy from your local farmer or grow your own food, this label is generally better than the conventional alternatives in the grocery store.
- Since the organic label is flawed, I also look for the Glyphosate Residue Free verification seal, which is a free market solution provided by The Detox Project. In order to qualify for the Glyphosate Residue Free seal of approval, a food or ingredient must pass the strictest testing – “no glyphosate or AMPA residues down to the limits of laboratory detection.” All products that achieve “Glyphosate Residue Free” status are tested at least three times per year in addition to being subject to spot checks. When I see products carrying the Glyphosate Residue Free verification seal, I purchase those products instead of their counterparts that do not carry the seal. Click HERE to find a list of verified products.
- Now I only eat organic foods, but when I started out, I slowly transitioned using the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.” These are lists that can help you avoid the most contaminated produce. Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases a report of the dirtiest and cleanest produce. The “Dirty Dozen” is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticide residues. The “Clean Fifteen” is a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables containing the least amount of pesticide residues. Get the list HERE.
- I take off my shoes before entering my house, so I don’t potentially track glyphosate into my home.
- I filter my water. Glyphosate is water-soluble, so it’s very comfortable hanging out in your water supply. To remove it, I use a whole house water filtration system in addition to a reverse osmosis filter on my kitchen sink. A less expensive alternative is the Berkey water filter, which has been shown through laboratory testing to remove roughly 75% of glyphosate.
- I periodically call my local grocery store and ask them to carry brands and products containing the Glyphosate Residue Free verification seal.I routinely pick a processed food in my pantry or refrigerator and contact the manufacturer. I tell them that I don’t want my family eating glyphosate and then ask if they would please consider having that processed food certified through The Detox Project. I also tell the company I will no longer eat that food until I have confidence that it does not contain glyphosate. (The company website is usually listed on the product. Go to that website and find the “Contact Us” link. Usually that link brings you to an email or phone number).
- I share the news with friends and family and kindly encourage them to take action so that we can move the market together.
- What you believe becomes your reality. I believe that the power of positive thinking has a profound impact on how chemicals effect your body. Consequently, if I am proactive in protecting myself and then I give the rest to God instead of worrying about it, I believe He will take care of the rest. So, I pray for protection from glyphosate and all the other toxic chemicals in our food, water, and air. Then, I let it go – knowing I’ve done what I can do and having faith that He will do the rest.
Samsel, Anthony & Seneff, Stephanie. (2013). Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy. 15. 1416-1463. 10.3390/e15041416.
Personal Communication (via email) with Henry Rowlands, Director of The Detox Project