An Unavoidable & Ubiquitous Chemical
Glyphosate is very detrimental to our health, especially our mitochondrial health, and it’s everywhere. In 1976, glyphosate was introduced to the world. It is the active ingredient in the toxic herbicide Roundup. From 1974 to 2016 nearly 2 million tons of glyphosate has been dumped into American soils and nearly 10 million tons worldwide.1 Right now in the US, we are dumping 300 million pounds of glyphosate on our soil per year: two times as much as last year. Many vegetable oils, processed foods, and inorganic vegetables or fruits contain or have been sprayed with Roundup, thus they are contaminated with this ubiquitous chemical. But can we keep ourselves safe from glyphosate and by eating only whole organic foods? Unfortunately, that does not provide us with 100% protection. It is estimated that approximately 65% of all the rainfall over the globe contains glyphosate.
Glyphosate and Chronic Diseases
Glyphosate consumption has been linked to or associated with countless health problems. These include, I hope you’re ready: Impaired cholesterol and fat metabolism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, insulin resistance and type II diabetes, fatty liver disease, hypothyroidism due to impaired thyroid-stimulating hormone activity, osteoporosis and arthritis, autism, a higher risk of contracting a salmonella infection, impaired development during adolescent years and even infertility.2,3 I’m not finished yet, this chemical is also associated with multiple types of cancer: non-hodgkins’s lymphoma, melanoma, colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic, kidney, thyroid, and breast cancer.4,5
Two Ways Glyphosate Damages Our Mitochondria
As you can clearly see above glyphosate is incredibly harmful to our health in many ways, but there are two unique ways that glyphosate damages our mitochondria.
The First Way
Involves manganese, a mineral that our bodies need in small amounts for healthy bones, immune function, and the neutralization of free radicals.6 Glyphosate binds to manganese and many other important minerals in plants sprayed with Roundup. This results in any creature or human that consumes the plants will not get the benefit of these minerals that have bonded with glyphosate. In the same way this chemical can bind to minerals in plants, it can also bind to and deplete these minerals from the human body. This is a problem because our mitochondria require manganese to convert superoxide,7 a potentially dangerous by-product of oxygen metabolism (cellular respiration), into water. This is a critically important process that protects mitochondria from oxidative damage.
The Second Way
Glyphosate interferes with ATP production by affecting our mitochondrial membranes. There are so-called dormant (inactive) solvents included in Roundup, that when coupled with glyphosate magnify the toxicity of the glyphosate (active compound) by as much as 2,000-times.8 This increases the permeability of our mitochondrial membranes, allowing glyphosate to go straight to the heart of the mitochondria.
What is Glyphosates Biggest Threat to Our Health?
For the answer to this we need to look glyphosates effect on the human microbiome,9 specifically our gut microbiota. Glyphosate not only pokes holes in the gut lining, but it also opens up the tight junctions of the intestines thereby allowing undigested food particles to cross into the bloodstream. Wait what? What are tight junctions?
Are a type of cell junction wherein the membranes of two neighboring cells join to form a barrier to larger molecules and water that pass between the cells. As a barrier, tight junctions help maintain the polarity of cells and the osmotic balance. Tight junctions are found in but not limited to the intestinal tract. They are found everywhere in the body, including the brain, blood vessels and renal (kidney) tubules. Apart from serving as a barrier between cells, tight junctions also function as an intelligent gateway for the intestinal tract. Their job is to keep out toxins, inorganic fiber, chemicals and foreign invaders. Gluten’s gliadin molecules and glyphosate from pesticides (specifically, Roundup and GMO foods) are its biggest enemies and loosen those tight junctions causing intestinal permeability known as leaky gut. In these instances, the gliadin molecules and/or the glyphosate causes widespread inflammation to the gut lining and the tight junctions remain open. If the tight junctions remain open long term, it can lead to a compromised immune system and/or autoimmune responses, where the body starts attacking itself. Anywhere that tight junctions remain open, glyphosate will compromise that area. So, it is essential that we keep our tight junctions, well, tight.
Redox Signaling Molecules
This is where redox signaling molecules11 enter the picture. When our mitochondria produce ATP, they also produce redox molecules such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). When these redox molecules are stable, they are a vital part of healing the body. They act as the 911-communication system to your immune system. But the loss of mitochondria equals advanced aging. And with each decade that passes, we lose precious mitochondria. As I have talked about before and is becoming mainstream, a balanced gut microbiome, with a multitude of friendly bacteria is vital to the healthy workings of the gut. Redox molecules and friendly bacteria work as a team to protect the gut. The communication of these bacteria with redox signaling molecules is the front line of defense for the tight junctions.
Fact of the week
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the “gold standard” in carcinogenicity research, found glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.”12,13
Since then, lawsuits have mounted against the chemical giant. More than 60 plaintiffs are currently suing Monsanto claiming Roundup caused or contributed to their non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Monsanto has defended Roundup’s safety in court by leaning on a 2016 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which, contrary to the IARC’s determination, concluded glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic” to humans.14 However, there is evidence that suggests the EPA has in fact conspired with Monsanto to protect the company’s interests by manipulating and preventing key investigations into glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential.