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The silent stalker….
What if you knew that there was something literally everywhere that seeps in to us, building up inside our bodies and quietly causing us more and more damage?
Sounds like a horror movie right?
It sort of is, and if you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or have a young baby you should really be aware of this:
There is a growing body of highly credible scientific research showing that Pesticide and Herbicide use could pose serious potential damage to your hormonal balance and to the development of your baby (amongst other things).
Why? How? What can you do about it:
Often when we bring this up to people, we see a similar response. Eyes glazing over and the inner monologue wondering if ‘we’ve taken our meds today’. The next response is often something like ‘well if it’s allowed to be used then it has to be ok…. right?’
Well, here is the reality:
Firstly, after a few years in the wilderness (for various reasons) we are starting to see a shift in people’s perception on this. Take a look at the recent landmark case in the US where a jury ruled that Glyphosate (a very well used herbicide) caused a man’s cancer. Risk free? Hmmm….
Click here for much more on this.
Secondly, we have a long history of using certain chemicals and thinking for a while that they are ok, until we find: they’re not. DDT, Nicotine, Asbestos, Lead are just a few recent examples.
Thirdly, although there may not be a huge amount present on a single piece of food, but, we are eating this in decent quantities on average three times a day every single day. Surely that has to build up.
So, why, if they are so dangerous, are they used?
Unfortunately, we have a big problem. If we don’t use these products, then as a society (as it stands) we could have a serious problem feeding the world at an affordable price. Our population has grown rapidly and we have limited resource. We also have a highly powerful group of agrochemical companies who produce these products. These are multi billion dollar companies and are VERY effective at lobbying and making sure their products are available for sale.
Interestingly enough, the case above also cited Monsanto (the maker of Glyphosate) as harassing scientists and independent researchers looking in to these claims. Hmm…. Sounds legit… !
Click here for more on the evidence around this.
This is another reason that this type of information isnt better known and appreciated.
Unfortunately, however, the alternative: organic farming is simply more expensive, yields less and takes a lot more time.
So, the question is: what’s the real cost to our long term health and what can we do about it?
There is a growing body of research from some of the leading scientists that suggests that over time these chemicals are causing us real damage. Damage in many areas (cancer being one) but specifically when it comes to our purposes: around our hormonal balance and damage to a rapidly developing baby.
So, what can you do about it?
This is another time when knowledge is empowering. We think the first step is about education and awareness. It’s about presenting ‘the other side’ that isn’t so well publicised (for the reasons above) so then at the very least, you’re properly informed in order to make your own decisions and to chose alternatives should you wish to do so.
So, let’s start by taking a step back and taking a look (in very simplistic form) at what a pesticide actually is:
‘Pesticides are typically designed to damage the nervous system of the targeted species, and often act on neurotransmission’. (1)
Translation: It attacks the nervous system in order to kill. No human consequences at all from this?! We are totally immune? Hmm….
Here’s what some research is suggesting:
Glyphosate in particular is one of the most widely used herbicides globally and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that exposure has impact on several areas:
Endocrine balance (your hormones): Click here for more research from the endocrine society on this and check out the feminised frog study if you have time – its pretty shocking!
Development of a baby’s brain – click here for more.
Chronic Inflammation: click here for more – but increasingly this is cited as a common potential root cause of many chronic diseases.
The Gut: click here for more as to why this is such a fundamental foundation for a baby
This is important to understand as there are a lot of people who will dispute these claims as ‘hysterical’ – usually because it suits their interests to do so. So, as usual, we need a bit of science to back it up with….
We find the work of the MIT professor Stephanie Seneff particularly interesting on this subject (see the reading list at the bottom for more in depth reading if you really fancy geeking out). One paper by Seneff and her colleague Beecham specifically investigate the link between glyphosate and neurological issues. Focusing on how exposure over time to glyphosate in our food hits our hormones and has damaging potential effects on the development specifically of a baby’s brain.
Essentially they argue that there is significant scientific evidence showing that it impacts (lowers) maternal production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
What is TSH? It is a key hormone which a developing foetus is very dependent on for its neurodevelopment. Click here for more.
However: understanding how this works (in brief!) can help give us the tools to protect against this:
This does sound pretty complicated, mainly because it is! Turns out you really do need to be a PhD from one of the world’s top universities to understand it!
But, breaking it down in to some form of English:
Glyphosate has been shown to to impact manganese in the body. Lower manganese = less ability to produce TSH. In more extreme cases, when you have less TSH (or low iodine) you can develop what is known as hypothyroidism. Perhaps it doesn’t get to that level, but, the bottom line is that both low TSH and low iodine have been shown to potentially significantly impact neurological development in babies:
‘research has demonstrated that, in humans, maternal hypothyroxinemia during pregnancy appears linked to a reduction in the offspring child’s IQ, as well as impaired attention, language and visual-motor performance at 7-9 years’ (2)
Click here for more detail if you fancy.
Key takeaway: once again you need to protect your hormonal balance which can (in part) be impacted by too much exposure to specific pesticides and herbicides. One way to do this is to watch out for the signs that you have been impacted.
Signs to watch out for with Hypothyroidism (aka. under active thyroid):
Heightened sensitivity to cold
Weight gain/trouble losing weight
Coarse, dry hair
‘Based on the known mechanism of glyphosate toxicity, we hypothesize that a pregnant woman’s exposure at mid- pregnancy to glyphosate-formulated herbicides (GFH) may produce, in her unborn child’s brain, anatomic alterations of cortical neuron layering remarkably similar to those found in the brains of humans with autism.’ (3)
Conclusion? There are many factors that can impact hormonal imbalance, but, we do know it is important to keep hormones where they should be particularly during the delicate process of conceiving and growing a healthy baby. These chemicals added to much of our food have demonstrated ability to impact this negatively so an easy way to reduce risk is to simply reduce your exposure where you can (click here for some easy ways to do this that are not just about buying organic). Finally, if you are concerned you may have an imbalance the first port of call is to speak to your doctor and get it checked out.
Next up: Research is also linking Glyphosate with that old enemy chronic inflammation with evidence of this in both humans and animal studies. .
What is Chronic Inflammation why is it a potential problem? Click here to find out a lot more as to why it is really not something you want if you’re trying to concieve or are pregnant – but in short:
Inflammation is your body’s normal response to ‘injury’. It is part of the healing mechanism. So all good, until, we have this response continually over a long period of time. This is known as ‘chronic inflammation’ and even just at a low level it is increasingly being cited as the root of a great number of chronic diseases and complications with pregnancy and development. This essentially happens when your body’s immune system is firing ‘excessively’ over a long period of time, either in response to a persistent threat or because there is another problem. Once again, something to avoid if you can. It has even been linked to mood issues and depression – click here for more.
It doesn’t stop there:
Allergies and Autoimmune conditions? Interestingly, studies in mice exposed to glyphosate rich air showed them subsequently over producing certain chemicals in the body which have been linked to asthma and dermatitis ie. causing your body’s own immune system to react in an abnormal way. Click here for more as to how a ‘healthy’ gut can actually improve immunity and even reduce the risk potentially of development of autoimmune conditions like Celiac disease.
One route that this may be happening is because Glyphosate is shown to impact (negatively) the gut microbiota which we are beginning to appreciate much more as a core part for health and well-being overall (click on the link to read more about how this can have an effect particularly on conception and for growing a baby). Research is increasingly showing the part that a ‘healthy’ gut can play particularly when it comes to developing immunity and its simple role of keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Once again there is evidence showing that Glyphosate can potentially play a role disabling or impairing this function making its damaging effects even more potent:
‘Glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria, leading to “leaky gut syndrome” and increased absorption of other orally ingested toxicants. Glyphosate also inactivates cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are needed to detoxify environmental toxicants’.
So: all in all – sounds like it isn’t something you want to have too much exposure to. So how do you avoid it?
Well the obvious point of course is to eat organically as much as you can (or to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly in activated Charcoal if you can’t always buy organic food). Click here to learn how quick, easy and cheap this is and check out these additional tips here for more ways to avoid that will suit any budget.
What can do you aside from that?
Well, problems with the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) have also been linked to low iodine. So, a smart thing to do is to also ensure you’re getting enough of that in your diet as a surprising number of people are deficient. In fact the Laboratory for Human Nutrition at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich has suggested that as much as 50 percent or more of the adult population in the West could be iodine-deficient. Click here for much more.
Good sources include:
Sea Vegetables (think Kelp or Seaweed)
Seafood (remember to go lower down the food chain to avoid too much mercury)
Wild caught Cod
And just in case we need another reason to avoid processed food:
Bromine (which is found in some industrial produced packaged foods) has been in fact found to block iodine-rich foods from being useful and absorbable to some degree – yet another reason to avoid processed foods and to just make your own.
So bottom line: once again, it may sound complicated but at its core, protecting yourself but it’s not rocket science. It’s about eating real, whole foods and a wide range of fruits and vegetables and wherever possible go organic or at least wash the produce you buy with something (like Activated Charcoal) which will help remove as much as these toxins as possible. For a full list of ways to avoid for any budget click here.
LYALL K, SCHMIDT R, HERTZ-PICCOTTO I: Maternal Lifestyle and environmental risk factors for autism spectrum disorders. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2014 Apr: 43(2)443-464
SAMSEL A, SENEFF S: Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases and associated pathologies. Surgical Nurology International. 2015. 6:45
KENNEDY D, SENEFF S, DAVIDSON RM, OLLER JW, HALEY BE, MASTERS RD: Environmental Toxicants and Infant Mortality in the USA: Open Journal of Biological Sciences. 2016.
SENEFF S, SAMSEL A: Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac Sprue and gluten intolerance: Interdisciplinary Toxicology: 2013 Dec: 6(4) 159-184
Further Reading: click here.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.
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