Nature’s shield: How a week of organic eating slashes toxic glyphosate exposure
(NaturalHealth365) Need even more motivation to eat healthy food during pregnancy? A new study published in the July 2023 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that even just one week of eating all-organic foods can reduce the amount of glyphosate in pregnant women’s bodies.
There is one small catch, however, and it has to do with where these women live.
Eating organic for one week can significantly reduce levels of world’s most toxic herbicide in urine of (most) pregnant women, according to new study
This study in question, “Urinary Glyphosate Concentrations among Pregnant Participants in a Randomized, Crossover Trial of Organic and Conventional Diets,” was conducted by a team of international researchers representing a variety of higher educational institutions including Boise State University, University of California Berkeley, University of Washington, Simon Fraser University of British Columbia, King’s College London, and the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The purpose of their study was to examine urinary glyphosate concentrations during pregnancy and evaluate the effect that an organic diet had on such concentrations.
As part of a two-week randomized crossover trial, the authors recruited 40 pregnant women in their first trimester from Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinics from the Southwest District Health, South Central District Health, and Central District Health public health departments serving at least 10 towns throughout the state of Idaho. The women were categorized into two groups: women in urban settings who lived far away (equal to or greater than 0.5 kilometers) from croplands and women who lived in rural neighborhoods close (less than 0.5 kilometers) to croplands.
The women were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group received (and ostensibly, were expected to eat) a one-week supply of conventional groceries, and the other group received a one-week supply of organic groceries. After one week, the groups switched which types of groceries they were given and expected to eat.
During this study, the researchers collected daily first-morning urine samples for analysis, examining “differences in urinary glyphosate concentrations between the conventional week and the organic week among all participants and stratified by residential proximity to an agricultural field.”
Two major findings were made:
First, eating all-organic foods for just ONE WEEK reduced the amount of glyphosate in the pregnant women’s urine by about 25%, and up to 43% once the researchers excluded participants who did not comply perfectly with the diet.
Second – and this is unfortunate – the researchers discovered that an all-organic diet “had almost no effect on urinary glyphosate concentrations among participants living within [half a kilometer] of an agricultural field.” Ugh!
They conclude that “diet is an important contributor to glyphosate exposure in people living [more than a half kilometer away] from agricultural fields” but that “for people living near crops, agriculture may be a dominant exposure source during the pesticide spray season.”
Possible risks associated with prenatal glyphosate exposure
To be clear: there is still a lot to be known (or confirmed) about the effects of glyphosate exposure to humans, and especially infants and unborn children – the range of data specifically on humans is sparse. Candidly, this seems to be bordering on criminally negligent, given the widespread use of glyphosate throughout the global community.
That said, the study authors point to the fact that there is “increasing evidence that prenatal glyphosate exposure may be associated with adverse birth outcomes such as shortened gestational age,” aka premature birth, which is linked to a range of potential health complications (many serious and/or life-long).
The authors also note that previous laboratory and animal studies, while incomplete (not to mention ethically questionable), do suggest that prenatal exposure to glyphosate has been associated with increased gut microbiome dysbiosis as well as teratogenic effects (the propensity to cause congenital disorders) and carcinogenic effects (the propensity to cause cancer) “through mechanisms such as the disruption of retinoic acid signaling, estrogen biosynthesis, and enzymatic pathways, as well as inducing DNA damage and oxidative stress and DNA methylation, which could result in epigenetic modifications.”
For these reasons, the researchers appear to support “recent editorials and consensus statements [which] have called for more biomonitoring and epidemiological research on glyphosate, particularly during vulnerable periods such as pregnancy and early childhood.”
Concerning, isn’t it, especially for women living in rural areas who may have greater exposure to glyphosate because of the agricultural use of it in their community?
And while we don’t want anyone to live in fear of their neighborhoods or experience undue stress (which we know isn’t healthy for a pregnant woman or her growing baby!), we do urge rural-living individuals to express caution. A few tips:
- Close windows and avoid going outside during active spray times
- Consider getting your glyphosate levels tested (plenty of companies offer kits you can purchase online – or speak to a trusted healthcare provider for more guidance)
- Use an indoor air purification system, especially if you live in these rural areas that spray chemicals on crops
- Maximize your well-being through other healthy lifestyle strategies – and yes, still eat healthy foods, including organic, since at least that won’t add to your glyphosate burden
Sources for this article include: