by Martin Michener, PhD
Special to Health Impact News
A Modern Epidemic of Gluten Allergies
Everyone has noticed the recent rise of gluten intolerance. Grocery store shelves are now lined with products which avoid using gluten in any form. But we still have little idea why this food allergy has swept through our population to produce such widespread problems. Articles associate it with celiac disease (sprue) and leaky gut, in which undigested food proteins are allowed to enter the blood stream, causing numerous inflammatory problems. 
Gluten sensitive friends and family of mine have tried eating USDA organic wheat products. Some have had positive results, others still cannot tolerate gluten from any source.
The symptoms of gluten intolerance resemble many other gut problems recently associated with foods, especially when people eat crops genetically engineered to resist weed killers. As crops became available to withstand the most popular herbicide Roundup, scientists noticed an increase in the agricultural usage of this product.
The Increase of Glyphosate Used in Agriculture
If you apply Roundup and it only kills weeds, why not use more of it? The manufacturer has denied this obvious marketing advantage, and the Environmental Protection Agency has ignored scientist’s protests, and recently moved to raise the allowable levels in all foods sold in the USA.
The common question now raised by independent scientists is this: Is the contamination of crops by the weed-killer Roundup, and its main ingredient, glyphosate, really as harmless as has always been claimed, ever since it was introduced by Monsanto thirty years ago? Without detailed studies, why has it been regarded as harmless to humans?
How Glyphosate Kills Weeds
This simple chemical was first patented as an antibiotic because it is known to interfere with one of the life processes of all bacteria. The cell process (called the Shikimic Acid Pathway) does not even exist in human cell machinery, so glyphosate could never directly cause an antibiotic reaction within a human body.
But in bacteria and green plants, glyphosate prevents the cell machinery from manufacturing three very important amino acids — these are three essential building blocks of all our proteins. Glyphosate kills weeds by starving them of these amino acids and by weakening their natural immunity. They actually die from infections from a normally harmless soil fungus, according to agronomist, Dr. Don Huber. 
Glyphosate’s Effect on Humans
Human reactions to glyphosate have been presented by the Food and Drug Administration as completely harmless, based on the original application reports from the manufacturer. Recent independent research has raised unanswered questions:
- How does glyphosate in food affect our normal gut flora – bacteria which keep us healthy? If it kills so many microorganisms, what is it doing to the flora we depend on for digestion and for the synthesis of the amino acids we cannot make ourselves.
- How does glyphosate on crop plants prevent essential minerals and nutrients from being made, thus reducing the nutrition we obtain from eating them?
- What other reactions does glyphosate have which might affect our health?
Deprives Essential Amino Acids
At MIT, Dr. Stephanie Seneff has been tracking numerous toxic factors which have entered our health picture during the last thirty years, and has published several recent articles and talks regarding the many effects of glyphosate. She and Dr. Samsel pointed out that if we humans cannot make those three amino acids, we must get them either from our food or from our normal gut bacteria.  In either case, the increasing use of glyphosate and its contamination in our food, all result in our being deprived of the amino acids from one or from both of these routes.
Kills Off Normal Gut Bacteria – Liver and Kidney Damage
First, Dr. Seneff describes the effect on our gut flora, which outnumber our own cells ten to one. Not only does glyphosate prevent the manufacture of the amino acids, but it causes our bacteria to create very toxic alternatives, which have an effect on our intestines “like a wrecking-ball.” The new toxins might normally be made less toxic by a healthy liver, but glyphosate ALSO inactivates the liver’s defense system (called cytochrome P450 enzymes, CYP).
These new toxins (e.g. m-cresol) kill off normal gut bacteria, but favor the very damaging overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria (Clostridium, C. diff.), causing massive disruption, diarrhea, cramps and even systemic illness. The toxic effect on the gut lining is also a disaster: it becomes porous, allowing these toxins and undigested protein fragments to enter the blood, causing widespread inflammation, liver and kidney damage. In extreme situations, agricultural workers exposed to higher glyphosate levels have died from kidney failure.  Please note, these reactions resemble many of those we originally listed, associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
Depleted Minerals in the Soil
Regarding the second question, about nutrition from crops on glyphosate treated soils, we have fewer answers. Crop soils throughout the USA are now so contaminated with glyphosate, that many independent workers doubt we are getting an adequate supply of the minerals and amino acids we got thirty years ago. Buying only certified organic crops, which cannot be grown using herbicides like Roundup, may be a step in more complete nourishment, but most livestock are raised in confined conditions and fed perhaps questionable grains and crop byproducts.
We have no clear studies tracing glyphosate through crops and meats, so reasoned projections are impossible.
Glyphosate and Aluminum Toxicity
A more disturbing set of answers are emerging this year regarding the third question: what other direct health impacts might be traced to food contaminated with glyphosate? The tracing of damage to aluminum has once more become a priority, with suggestions that it accumulates with age. Some studies show it may damage the nervous system of people of all ages, but particularly the young whose systems are still developing and the elderly where repair mechanisms may be failing.
Aluminum, while the third commonest element in the earth’s crust, is seldom absorbed into the human body naturally because it has formed inert complexes with the earth’s minerals. Industry has, by elaborate electrolysis, converted these minerals into a common metal.
Aluminum’s synthetic compounds are also commonly found today in cosmetics, antiperspirants, baking powder and antacids.
If you question a physician about its toxicity, the most likely response would be: it never gets into the blood. That has been a good enough claim for our malfunctioning watchdog government agencies.
But now, along comes glyphosate, thirty years ago, in food. We have already discussed how it may make our intestines leak some large molecules into our blood. But the story with aluminum may be worse: glyphosate latches onto aluminum (“chelates it”) and then bypasses all the defense systems designed for keeping it out and tested for thousands of years.
Dr. Huber has explained that farmers now use glyphosate at harvest time to directly kill their grain crops. This unlicensed practice leaves large residues actually in the edible grains. Flour made from USA grown barley, wheat and rye may be heavily contaminated.
Should you eat grain products contaminated with glyphosate, especially those baked using aluminum-rich baking powder, you may be importing both the aluminum and the gluten quickly through your leaky gut membranes.
Aluminum Used as an Adjuvant in Vaccines
Please note an aspect of aluminum has also recently come to light through its use as an irritant in vaccines. The manufacturers and vaccine patent writers explain that in a vaccine without aluminum the foreign matter (antigen) will be ignored by your immune system, so you will never prepare antibodies or mount a defense for your future protection. So aluminum is then listed as a helper (“adjuvant”).
Of course in every inoculation, aluminum is accompanied by fragments of the disease organism against which immunity is to be developed, so the foreign protein reaction is thought to be well defined.
But in the case of your gut, with the coincidence of wheat-glyphosate-aluminum being transported from your gut into your blood as described above, experts now say the immune response will be to make up a new defense against any more gluten, since that is the foreign protein available at that time for any systemic response. In short, this coincidence of foreign toxins seems to make a perfect opportunity for a large portion of our population to become allergic to gluten, hitherto a beneficial grain protein.
Thanks to Samsel & Seneff’s work, we have a potential explanation for this recent epidemic. I may mention, there is also reason to suppose that the rampant food allergies to other items, completely unknown in my own childhood, have developed from aluminum in a similar way, as well.
Guidelines for Minimizing the Effect of Glyphosate in Your Life
Are there any more dreadful things to know about glyphosate? Undoubtedly, but we can now provide some guidelines for minimizing its known and suspected impacts to your family, based on our understanding of the several routes of action outlined above.
First, consume crops grown on glyphosate-free soil wherever possible. If you make your own, never use pesticides unless they are certified for organic growing. If you buy locally grown foods, ask your farmer if Roundup has ever been used on her fields.
Second, avoid GMO foods if you can identify them. These foods have the highest concentrations of glyphosate because they are genetically modified to withstand direct spraying of the herbicides containing glyphosate as the active ingredient. The two most prevalent GMO crops in the U.S. are corn and soy. Look for companies who are willing to test their products for the presence of GMOs before selling them to the public, such as Tropical Traditions’ GMO-tested program.
However, realize that even non-GMO foods now contain glyphosate residue, and this even includes food certified organic. So if you are serious about eliminating all glyphosate from your diet (as everyone should!), it will take some work. Work directly with local farmers who are committed to glyphosate-free farming practices whenever possible. Tropical Traditions is also implementing a new glyphosate-tested program identifying high-risk food such as grains for testing, and labeling them once they test free of glyphosate.
With meats of all kinds, there are several aspects to be hoped for, including organic soils, non-GMO feeds and happy living conditions, raised as naturally as possible.
Improving Gut Bacteria: Managing the Microbiome
Care of gut bacteria is a whole current area of developing science. The health of our microbiome has recently been proven to literally change the way we think and feel.
There are indeed links from bacterial health to our brains. Consuming healthy foods is a large part of the restorative measure. First prebiotics, then probiotics, is this order.
Eat food your culture will like when it arrives, then add live bacteria of the right mix. Natural yogurts are famous for being the right culture, but there are doubts about surviving live bacteria. Naturally fermented vegetables, combining the cabbage-mustard family and the onion family (sauerkraut, Kimchi) which have not been pasteurized, are hard to find unless you make them yourself, but they have four unique advantages:
1. These foods have lots of organic sulfur, which has recently been found to be deficient in our diets. Sulfur eaten with flavenoids, such as carotenoids or turmeric, allows sunlight on your skin to combine cholesterol and vitamin D3 with sulfate, both of which help maintain healthy membranes (muscles and nerves).
2. The culturing process makes the batch turn “sour”, and by the end-point most of the original bacteria die off from this acidity. This is why these ancient processes were invented: to preserve healthy food values without refrigeration. Although the live bacteria diminish, they leave behind acid-proof spores, able to survive a trip through your stomach acid, and ready to spring into action as soon as the pH rises (aka, they reach your small intestine).
3. The fermented cabbage and onions are softened a lot in the fermentation process, but they are still very healthy roughage, able to make it through 90% of the digestive process to your lower gut, offering some protection to bacteria and providing surfaces on which those replacement bacterial spores can begin to grow.
4. As we age, our digestive tracts may lack adequate stomach acid for some meals; regularly eating lacto-fermented products provides an acid mix around pH 3.5, and is able to help digest proteins in meat and legume dishes without becoming overly acidic.
Regular consumption of this natural nutrition system has worked for thousands of generations. Consuming lacto-fermented foods has also worked well for our local nutrition discussion group. It has helped people survive numerous courses of antibiotics taken for Lyme disease prevention, restoring normal flora with no major gut problems. We even recommend it to our physicians, who were recently frustrated by C. diff. infection cases resistant to big pharma’s famous antibiotics.
If you are suffering from C. diff., which today has become a common hospital infection which is resistant to most current antibiotics, consider fecal transplant. Fecal transplant from a healthy donor has been proven to completely cure people from C. diff., sometimes in one dose. See: The Most Effective Probiotic is Free but the FDA Wants to Ban It.
How can we be sure glyphosate is NOT included in our diet, when worldwide sales (totally unregulated) have exceeded 600 thousand tons per year?  Assume that you have too much glyphosate in your diet, and work hard at reducing your exposure, with the goal of eliminating it completely.
About the Author
Dr. Martin C. Michener has over fifty years experience as a teacher, ecologist, zoologist and botanist. He has a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University Graduate School.
1. What is Gluten Intolerance? glutenfreeliving.com
2. Dr. Don Huber: GMOs and Glyphosate and Their Threat to Humanity – Food Integrity Now – Carol Grieve, April 8, 2014
3. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance – Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013; Vol. 6 (4): 159–184. Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, 12 November 2013
4. Mysterious Kidney Disease Slays Farmworkers In Central America – National Public Radio – Jason Beaubien, April 30, 2014
5. Glyphosate Herbicide Sales Boom Powers Global Biotech Industry – Sustainable Pulse – Aug 21 2014