Gluten or glyphosate? What’s at the root of the global wheat intolerance surge?

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gluten-intolerance(NaturalHealth365)  Two decades ago, mentioning a gluten intolerance might have drawn blank stares, with individuals grappling to identify alternatives to staples like pasta and bread.  Today, it’s a pervasive topic, frequently discussed on social media and major news platforms, as it appears nearly everyone knows someone with a gluten sensitivity.

While celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which wheat gluten damages the gut lining, gluten intolerance is more like a melange of symptoms and is on the rise worldwide.  With the idea of finding a cause for humanity’s increasing intolerance to gluten, researchers from British Columbia decided to evaluate the literature about glyphosate’s effects on the gut microbiome.

Their research shows a startling link between the use of glyphosate across the globe and the increasing rise of gluten intolerance.

Why is glyphosate everywhere?

Glyphosate is the number one herbicide in the world because it works exceptionally well, which in turn causes it to be used by large-scale industrial agriculture all the way down to the humble homeowner killing weeds on their lawn.  Glyphosate exposure has been linked to endocrine disruption, a myriad of cancers, cognitive decline, metabolic damage, and a slew of other health problems.

However, the connection between glyphosate and wheat gluten intolerance isn’t directly rooted in human consumption of the herbicide.  Rather, its widespread use in wheat cultivation is notable.  Especially in regions with challenging weather conditions like cold and excessive moisture, glyphosate serves to even out crop ripening, ensuring a uniform harvest.  But, at what cost?!

Glyphosate is used as a desiccant and as a herbicide in most wheat production in the United States, which means it is in the overwhelming majority of mass-produced wheat-based products that you eat every day.

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Exposure to glyphosate keeps getting worse

Gluten intolerance is typically marked by stomach issues such as cramping, gas, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, or even in some cases, vomiting and severe pain.  The researchers in this study determined that compounds in glyphosate inhibit specific biochemical impulses in plants and bacteria, which causes dysbiosis in humans.  As we consume glyphosate-contaminated foods, our gut microbiome weakens, becomes less diverse, and causes the above symptoms.

A significant challenge with glyphosate research lies in its focus primarily on direct exposure, often associated with application or close proximity during use.  This particular study highlights a broader concern: consistent secondary exposure to glyphosate through the consumption of cereal grains, such as wheat.  Given that wheat is a staple in many popular foods like bread, bagels, and donuts, our inadvertent intake of this chemical compound is considerably high.

What you may not know about glyphosate exposure

The suggestion that glyphosate, rather than wheat gluten, is the primary culprit behind dysbiosis symptoms is deeply concerning.  Compounding this concern, researchers unearthed even graver findings.

Their analysis delved into research pointing to the impact of glyphosate exposure during pregnancy and infancy on the maturation of a child’s gut microbiome.  Alarmingly, disruptions in microbiome development were linked to cognitive and behavioral issues in several studies.

Furthermore, glyphosate’s selective influence spared certain harmful gut bacteria, which have been linked to heightened cancer risks and other health complications.

Practical tips to navigate glyphosate concerns and gluten intolerance

The increase in prevalence of gluten intolerance does track with the increased use of glyphosate.  Although a systemic review does not prove causation, there are already enough reasons to avoid glyphosate, so gut dysbiosis is another good one to add to the list.

You could avoid wheat altogether, but it’s not just wheat that is treated heavily with glyphosate, both as an herbicide and a desiccant; most cereal grains are.  In fact, legumes and other crops are also heavily treated with glyphosate, although wheat is the most saturated out of all of the studies.

If it is possible to buy small batches of wheat products from organic farms that do not use glyphosate or other desiccants, that is an option.  In general, buying factory-farmed, industrial agricultural goods is almost always detrimental to your health, so this gives you another reason to support small, locally owned, and family farming businesses.

If you are not ready to give up wheat altogether, you can try to lower your consumption.  Some of the studies in the reviews indicate that people who took breaks from glyphosate consumption and who had otherwise probiotic diets fared better when introducing small amounts of wheat.

Ultimately, our food system’s biggest problem is probably primary and secondary glyphosate exposure.  It’s a hazard to livestock, consumers, and field workers who are exposed to it directly.  It filters into groundwater and streams and persists on the wheat used to make your bread.  The best you can do for you and your family’s health is to buy local (organically grown) food at farmers markets or a local farm directly.

Never underestimate the power of your food choices to positively influence the way we create food in this world.

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