Letter to a friend on his granddaughter and inflammation, obesity, Alzheimer’s Disease and Attention Deficit Disorders
Re your question about your granddaughter’s gastrointestinal (GI) problem. There is a recent and very disturbing paper by Samsel and Seneff on the inhibitory effect of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) on the enzyme chemistry of GI microorganisms. They look at the broader population, not specifically as a causal etiology to any specific GI disorder, but useful perhaps as a contributing factor!
Cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in the GI tract play a crucial role in detoxifying xenobiotics (foreign chemical substances such as antibiotics occurring in very small concentrations). Glyphosate thus enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. The negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems. According to Samsell and Seneff, the potential consequences include most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet – gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Glyphosate residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. The herbicide may not necessarily be a direct cause of GI-related pathology, but could certainly act as a contributing factor.
Pesticides may be “safe” for humans but are not safe for our GI bacteria and related micro-organisms responsible for a symbiotic relationship with us. These co-inhabitants of our bodies are being challenged by a growing food-for-profit industry using pesticides for greater yields to provide greater profits and to meet the demands of burgeoning global populations. As such, they deserve far more study and inquiry than they’re currently receiving. You could build a conspiracy theory here, but you don’t have to.
Here is a classic conflict between our corporate industries’ right to pursue a “for-profit risk-based” business model for its shareholders and our competing right to a healthy environment and a tendency to a precautionary-based approach for everyone.
Does a person have a right to seeds and water? Not if money is to be made. Ask Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer, Shell and Dow who are in agribusiness. Are their corporate profits coming at the expense and health of others? Absolutely, and we are seeing it everywhere. One in every two people in North America is living with chronic disease, you and me included. If you can’t see it in yourself – inflammatory disease AKA heart disease – then perhaps you will see it in your grandchildren? If you can imagine that, then you can also understand how insidious and pervasive this could be.
All it takes is reading the labels of the foods you eat, avoiding GMO foods as much as possible, and becoming a “responsible consumer” by purchasing your food with this set of lenses on. Personally, since my wife had cancer, we switched to “organic”. We recently learned that as much as 50% of organic produce has some pesticide residues. We can’t get away from the stuff even though we try. Such is the way of a Green Dentist, seeing the world through this set of lenses, and looking upstream for casual factors in our health and environment.
We have already been down this road before with tobacco and, guess what? We still make a profit from it, don’t we? As evidence for the hypothesis, inclusive of profit and self-interest skewing data, I refer generally to the obesity epidemic that we, as a sick, chronic diseased society, accommodate. This is not a chicken and egg type inquiry, as we know obesity is what came after the chemical era. And that is my greater point – if the host species is not thriving then, instead of looking at the individual patient or friend (who, by-the-way, may over-eat and be lazy) – look at the environment. That’s the Petri dish our species is living in, AKA the biosphere. Every day we treat the land, the air and the water as if they were still providing support for a much smaller population. Here is the rub and the great delusion of our society. We think we are still in that seemingly familiar, smaller population world. Yet we are, in fact, in a very different world. Take a look around!