IBD linked to pesticides and GMOs:
Genetically modified foods are a true scientific breakthrough. These crops are resistant to severe weather conditions and pesticide use. However, science also says that these foods are harsh on the gut and have been linked to autoimmune diseases such as IBD. In particular, the effects of glyphosate on the gut and the link between the IBD and pesticides have been studied and the results are the topic of conversation in the health and especially IBD community.
The CDC’s, (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recent statistics show that IBD now affects more than three times the projected estimates. Could the rise of inflammatory bowel diseases be due to the increase of glyphosate and other pesticides in food?
Pesticides and IBD
The link between pesticides and IBD is being increasingly studied as the majority of the population now suffers from some type of autoimmune disease and 3/4 with any type digestive disorder. IBD doesn’t have a definite cause but a series of factors that promote it. Factors that influence the higher than expected IBD rates are: genetics, antibiotics, exposure to environmental toxins, diet, poor gut flora, and immune dysfunction.
Researchers believe that much of the exposure to toxins and causes of immune dysfunction are coming into our body through food. This means, poor diet choices can also contribute to getting exposure to another 2 major risk factors of IBD.
A research study, documented significant disturbances in digestive and immune function for mice fed GM corn(1). Not only did it affect the immune system, but also deregulated genes and fertility.
Of course, humans are not mice, but this study gives insight to how chemical exposure through pesticides in food can be toxic to our intestinal health.
Health risks of pesticides:
Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, biocide and anything that ends in cide are meant to kill. Round Up ready plants, come with an already modified seed meaning that the pesticide isn’t sprayed on and therefore cannot be washed off. Pesticides damage the gut lining and may cause or worsen IBD, as well as other chronic health problems. These chemicals wash into our soil and water and when tested are found in our intestinal lining.
Glyphosate is the active herbicide in RoundUp. There is a great deal of controversy on whether or not glyphosate can affect health and our immune system. However, in the case of sensitive digestive systems, it makes sense that a compound meant to kill all bacteria will also kill the bacteria in the gut.
How to know if something is genetically modified?
Food companies are not required to label gmos. However, most include a print that reads, “This product is produced with genetically engineered ingredients.” Other times, you can tell by reading the label and looking for modified starches. Also, it’s important to know what are the most commonly modified foods and staying away from them. Most of the corn, soy, wheat, and rice sold in our grocery stores are genetically modified.
Common foods that are gmos
How to read labels and barcodes:
Learning to read labels and barcodes can also be helpful. Companies are not required to label the food with the following numbers but most do. However, some foods say nothing about a gmo on the label, instead there is a QR code you can scan or 800 – phone number you can dial to inquire. The following barcodes can be very helpful for produce items.
Organic food: starts with 9,
Conventional food: 4 digit codes
GMO food barcode: starts with 8
IBD and gmos
Many patients and parents of those with Crohn’s and Colitis avoid gmos because of the possibility that they may be a gut irritant. If you are looking for ingredients in food labels that are gmo’s keep your eyes out for the following ingredients.
- brown rice syrup
- invert cane sugar
- modified rice starch
- corn syrup (and almost all corn)
- soy products
Pesticides and IBD breakdown
Basically, seeds and plants are genetically engineered to withstand pesticide use. As a result, these GMO foods can be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides without being damaged. The problem people have with this is that they are not genetically engineered to eat these foods. These pesticides go directly into the intestinal wall and the rest of our bodies, since they cannot be washed off. The damage to the gut lining associated with commonly ingesting these foods links pesticides and IBD. Overall, research on the subject of pesticides and IBD identifies continued exposure leading to health issues. As well, as reproductive and digestive issues that affect fetuses. Still, it can be hard to believe that GMO’s and IBD can really have anything to do with each other since IBD does not have a definite cause.
What are your views on the topic? Do you feel a decrease in symptoms and/or flares when avoiding genetically modified foods and is it worth it?