Herbicide Use and Your Brain Health
If your diet includes conventional packaged foods made from corn, soy, wheat or sugar (think cereals, breads, cookies, etc.) you are likely ingesting a heavy dose of toxic chemicals that could be affecting your neurological health. Mounting evidence shows that the herbicide glyphosate or “Roundup" is linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as chronic gut dysbiosis. The latter is particularly important because we now know that an imbalance in gut microbiota can impair brain neurotransmitter function leading to chronic pain and fatigue, anxiety and depression. Additionally, glyphosate exposure is thought to lower brain serotonin levels that can disregulate moods and sleep patterns.
Glyphosate is the most pervasively use herbicide and many of us are getting a triple dose in the foods we eat. Seeds are genetically engineered with this chemical to increase crop yields, and thus profits. These altered seeds are referred to as GMOs. Plants are then sprayed with glyphosate during the growing season to minimize invading weeds. And to aid industrial harvesting, crops are sprayed with a final dose as a pre-harvest desiccant. Adding to the body’s toxic load, glyphosate is accumulating in our air, home landscape and public spaces, and ground water.
There are things you can do to reduce glyphosate exposure and support its elimination from your body:
Buy foods showing the USDA Organic label. This is only sure way to avoid glyphosate in your food. The stamp identifies that the item has met federal and state rules pertaining to organic standards, which means the food has been grown without using pesticides and GMO seed or in the case of animal products, animals have not been fed GMO feed or given hormones and antibiotics. So NO glyphosate! (Get EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce)
Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified stamp. This non-profit organization seeks to build a food supply free of GMOs (also referred to as GE) and offers routine testing and labeling of products containing at-risk ingredients. Food companies and growers voluntarily participate which demonstrates their commitment to providing you with GMO and pesticide-free food.
Support local farms and shop at your local farmers’ market. Foods grown for local markets have fewer pesticides since they don’t need to withstand distant transport and long storage times. Also, shopping directly from the farmer allows you to ask questions about GMOs and growing practices so that you can be reassured your food is GMO and pesticide-free.
Do not use Roundup herbicide in your home landscape and use only organic or non-GMO seeds in your edible garden. Educate your neighbors on the toxic consequences of this pesticide and encourage organic landscape alternatives. Check with your children’s school and local municipal authorities managing parks and public spaces and find out if or when this chemical is used and avoid these areas as much as possible.
Detox your body. Enjoy lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and similar foods to increase your body’s beneficial bacteria that can breakdown and eliminate pesticides. Eating a diet rich in organic, high fiber foods such as beans, peas, collard greens and berries will support regular elimination of toxic waste. Particular herbs and plants support the liver’s detoxification process, such as dandelion, turmeric, burdock, and milk thistle. Use as teas, tonics or tinctures on a daily basis.
Environmental Working Group. (2014, Feb 19). EWG’S 2014 shoppers guide to avoiding GMO food. Retrieved on 9/22/16 from: http://www.ewg.org/research/shoppers-guide-to-avoiding-gmos
Samsel, A, & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy, 15(4), 1416-1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416