So I’m back into the wheat/gluten research (I’m like a dog with a bone, I tell you), and came across some really interesting discussion points that I thought I’d share.
There’s no doubt that wheat sensitivity is on the rise and whilst some may argue it’s a result of better reporting standards and others say it’s a result of a gross misdiagnosis, on the clinical front line, I can’t deny that I am seeing this trend first hand. This begs me to question what has changed in the last 100 years? Whilst I will admit, the list is endless (and intertwined), I just can’t seem to let go of the rise in the use of glyphosphate.
For those of you who don’t know, glyphosphate is a herbicide which is used to control weeds. It’s one of the molecules found in Round Up, of which is owned by chemical conglomerate Monsanto. This herbicide is one of the most used in the world, sprayed on a number of crops here in Australia including wheat, canola, corn and legumes.
But what does glyphosphate have to do with wheat intolerance? It all comes down to the digestion of wheat and the all important nutrient manganese.
We have an enzyme (prolyl aminopeptidase) in our gut that helps us breakdown wheat. For this enzyme to function, it requires manganese. Traditionally, foods such as wheat have been rich in the nutrient manganese and this enzyme nutrient relationship has worked well; however, things changed with the introduction of glyphosphate.
Research suggests that glyphosphate can induce a severe manganese deficiency not only in the plant it’s sprayed on, but also in the animals who eats the plant itself. Without manganese, this all important wheat digesting enzyme becomes defective and our ability to digest wheat is reduced.
Now I know what you might be thinking and the answer is yes, defective enzymes have been found in both celiac and gluten intolerant patients.
Now whilst this is still a collection of theories, there was a study done in 2014 that took gluten intolerant patients and replaced their conventional wheat products with organic ancient grains. The result? A dramatic reduction in abdominal symptoms and inflammation. Interesting no?
What’s also worth noting is that glyphosphate has been linked to disruption of our gut bacteria (in particular bifidobacteria), disruption of liver CYP enzymes resulting in impaired bile flow and low Vitamin D, damage to red blood cells, possibly leading to anaemia as well as the old intestinal impermeability. I can see all my celiac patients looking at me like AHHH THAT’S ME?! I hear you.
But before you panic, know once more that I’m simply drawing correlations. According to FSANZ, “there are no safety concerns relating to estimated dietary exposure of the Australian population to glyphosate residues in food”. But if you’re like me and want to air on the side of caution, go organic.
PLEASE NOTE: In no way am I suggesting that manganese supplementation (or any other supplementation for that matter) will reverse gluten intolerance or allergy (in fact manganese can be toxic in high doses). The topic is far more complex than that and way too complex to write in a blog post. This is just food for thought 🙂