Glyphosate is the most commonly sprayed herbicide used on crops today. Glyphosate is otherwise known as Roundup-you may be familiar with it as a product for lawn care. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified glyphosate as “non-toxic under the acute toxicity classification system.” Unfortunately, this statement does not address the bigger problem with glyphosate, which is related to long term, low dose exposure. Chronic exposure has been linked to a long list of ailments including autoimmunity, autism, infertility, and, in 2015, the World Health Organization concluded that this agent probably causes cancer.
So where is our exposure coming from?
Corn and soy are the crops most commonly sprayed with glyphosate, with wheat being a close third. Genetically modified crops-they are referred to as GMO-were created to withstand higher doses of glyphosate, so that the weeds surrounding them would succumb. Glyphosate residues persist on GMO crops, which are then developed into a multitude of food additives including high fructose corn syrup and soy filler. These additives are used in a wide variety of processed foods, which ensures a steady distribution of glyphosate into our food supply.
Additionally, because of its widespread agricultural and suburban use, glyphosate has made its way into our underground drinking water, and it is currently not removed by conventional water treatment plant processing.
Slow and steady exposure to glyphosate is a problem because:
Glyphosate exposure may cause bacteria that exists in the community to be resistant to antibiotics, which puts us at risk for more severe infections.
Glyphosate is toxic to many of the “good” bacteria in the our microbiomes-the vast collection of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live predominantly in your large intestine, and may shift the bacterial population to a less favorable composition. This, in turn, raises our chances of developing metabolic syndrome and fatty liver.
Glyphosate may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women. Studies have also reported associations between pesticide exposure and the risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. This means that at very low doses, it can interfere with the way our bodies control hormone activity. This is problematic because unregulated estrogenic activity may lead to breast and prostate cancer, as well as infertility.
What you can do about it:
The best way to reduce levels of glyphosate in your body is to avoid eating and drinking it. This can be achieved by purchasing organic produce-either fresh or frozen, avoiding processed food, and filtering your water with reverse osmosis. The level of glyphosate in the body has been noted to decrease rapidly with reduced intake.
Additionally, you can boost the elimination of glyphosate from your body by eating cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, kale, radishes, and many others. These vegetables contain glucosinolate, a phytochemical that works with your body to support the hardwired pathways which eliminate toxic substances. One such process is called “secondary conjugation,“ which is a set of enzymatic reactions that happens in your liver.
Cruciferous vegetables also support your microbiome, and the microbiome also plays a big role in metabolizing toxic substances.
For more information about glyphosate and pesticides, read the excellent book “Non-toxic, Guide to Living Healthy in a Chemical World” by Dr. Aly Cohen and Dr. Fred Vom Saal, available at http://www.thesmarthuman.com.
In this recipe, a cruciferous vegetable, baby bok choy, is paired with mushrooms and tofu in a savory, gingery sauce. Buy organic vegetables and tofu for this recipe, so you don’t add back in what we are trying to eliminate!
Kitchen-Prescription Recipe: Gingered Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms and Tofu
2 pounds of organic baby bok choy, cut into quarters
1/2 pound of organic Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, mushroom caps quartered
14 ounces of firm, organic tofu, drained and patted dry, and sliced into one-inch cubes
1 tablespoon of minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons of organic tamari sauce
3 tablespoons of Sake
2 teaspoons of agave syrup
1 Teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds
Make the sauce: Combine the tamari sauce, sake, and agave a syrup in a glass measuring cup, and set aside.
Heat 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the tofu cubes until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the shiitake mushroom quarters to the pan with a pinch of salt, sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until cooked through and browned. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, and add to the tofu. Add three more tablespoons of grapeseed oil to the pan. Sauté the minced ginger for one minute, or until fragrant, and then add in the minced garlic, and sauté for another minute. Add the baby bok choy to the pan, and pour in the sauce. Stir to coat the bok choy with the sauce, and then cover the pan, and turn down the heat to medium low for four to five minutes. Uncover the pan, and mix in the cooked tofu and mushrooms. Raise the heat to medium high, and cook for another 2 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds , and serve with steamed rice or cooked soba noodles.
K-P Cooking Tips:
If your produce is not organic, submerging it in a solution of one teaspoon baking soda to two cups of water for two minutes or more will help remove glyphosate residues. Rinse in tap water again before eating.
An Easy Way to Remove Pesticides – Consumer Reports
I did not thicken the sauce for this dish, but if you would like a more substantial sauce, I recommend using Kudzu. This powdered root of the Pueraria Lobata plant is available in an organic, dried form, and can be purchased online. It is similar to corn starch, but is a non-GMO product, and has both culinary and medicinal uses. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, menopausal symptoms, diabetes, fever, and the common cold. Because studies have found Kudzu to have estrogenic effects, individuals with hormone-sensitive cancers and those taking tamoxifen should avoid it.
Contact the Environmental Working Group at http://www.ewg.org to support the banning of glyphosate use in the United States. It has already been banned in the EU and in Mexico.