Maximum sports performance comes when the body is healthy and functioning as it should. Our general health provides the foundation required for wellness and we can add to that the building blocks such as training and nutrition to maximise our performance. So lets take a step back for a moment and ask the question “how is my general health and well-being?.”
Inflammatory stress is unifying pathogenesis of chronic disease in the developed world. We are witnessing increased dysregulation of our immune systems and a growing number of diseases associated with this including: cancer, autoimmunity, hormonal imbalances, spectrum disorders in children, and Alzheimer’s dementia in our adult population. (1)
I have pondered the question, why is this so? Why are we seeing more disease now than ever before?
The answer to this question is no doubt multi-factorial but there is growing scientific evidence to suggest the bacteria in our gut (known as our microbiome) plays a significant role in our general health and well-being. This makes absolute sense if we understand and acknowledge that 60-70% of our immune system lies within our gastrointestinal system. (1, 2)
Our gut microbiome should be diverse and plentiful, however with the introduction and widespread use of antibotics from the 1940’s in addition to environmental and lifestyle factors there has been significant change in what our gastrointestinal system is exposed to these days. (1)
One area that requires more research is the use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH). Glyphosate is the active ingredient in agricultural herbicides, the most famously known one being RoundUp. (1)
RoundUp is sprayed throughout NZ to control weeds and on many of our food crops, notably: wheat, corn, soybean and other staple crops. A growing body of research is documenting the health concerns of glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and that it kills beneficial gut bacteria. (1)
So what does glyphosate do in the human body? This is where it gets a bit more scientific. Glyphosate is a profound zonulin stimulator. (1) Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of the tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. Research reveals that glyphosate damages the epithelial tight junction tissue on contact, weakening those barriers which protect us on the inside from the barrage of other environmental toxins we are exposed to, among other things. Injury to the tight junction can lead to intestinal permeability. (1)
It should also be noted that gliadin (a protein found in wheat and is a component of gluten), also stimulates zonulin. (2)
When we have intestinal permeability with the collapse of the tight junction firewalls, all organ systems go under duress. The acute inflammatory response becomes chronic inflammation and the system is overwhelmed with the outside world. (1)
Interestingly, redox biochemistry (where oxidation states of atoms are changed via electron transfer) is increasingly being recognised as the fundamental communication network of cellular protection and repair. (1)
Endogenous sources of these redox molecules are produced by bacteria in the gut in the form of carbon-based fulvic molecules, and intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) are produced by vascular endothelium and mitochondria. (1)
For this reason, it is becoming clearer just how important the bacteria in our gut, and what they produce, form a key part of the process in our immune systems cellular network.
So what can we do to minimise our exposure to the growing number of environmental toxins and mitigate the effects of these on our gastrointestinal system?
-Be mindful of the food you eat. Avoid processed and packaged foods.
– Eat whole food. Buy organic and grow your own vegetables if possible.
-Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). GMO crops are engineered to be able to survive the application of glyphosate.
-Limit or remove consumption of wheat based products.
-Incorporate bone broth into your diet. Bone broth is rich in nutrients that support gut health and immunity.
– Only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary.
-Use a probiotic after antibiotic use, preferably one with a diverse range of beneficial bacteria.
– Eat wild fermented foods to increase diversity of the gut microbiome.
– Interact as much as possible with the environment to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome. Run/walk in different locations to breathe in different bacteria and fungi.
-Use vinegar as a weedkiller.
This is a huge topic and I have only touched on a small part of the science. As part of my own healing since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, i’m doing more research, but for now I challenge you to look at your own health to ensure you have a solid foundation to build on. Be kind to yourself and remember, your health and well-being is your foundation, so nourish it!
(1) Zac Bush MD. Peer reviewed journal article. Glyphosate, Root Cause of Chronic Inflammation. White Paper: Resore’s Repair and Protection of Tight Junctions from Glyphosate. http://zachbushmd.com/
(2) Amy Myers MD. The Autoimmune Solution, 2015.
Further reading if you are interested: