Can you believe that 11 years ago, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 54% of U.S. children had some form of chronic disorder or disease by the age of seventeen? That’s more than half of the population for that age group! With statistics as alarming as this, we need to take a closer look at what is causing this imbalance and what we can do as parents to reverse this growing trend.
What is gluten, and why is it so problematic?
‘Gluten’, a very hot word in the food world these days, refers to a starchy protein binder that can be found as naturally occurring in some grains and bread. Some ‘ancient grains’, or foods that have been planted and cultivated for thousands of years without manipulation by modern humans, are actually grain-free (like spelt and quinoa). The difference between these so-called ancient grains and the typical “modern wheat” found in your average grocery store is that most grains today come from a variety of wheat created in the 1960’s through cross-breeding and genetic manipulation. Not necessarily GMO but…
Modern wheat of today is:
- A product of monocrop planting, which strips the soil of its nutrients and can cause serious erosion over time
- Grown with shallow roots in the soil (which continues to strip nutrients) and lacks any biodiversity
- Sprayed continuously with glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup (weed killer)
- Milled and HIGHLY processed
In addition to this genetic tampering, the bleaching, stripping, and processing that modern wheat is subjected to during bread-making results in a very unnatural and non-nutritious product. The purpose behind this process is to produce a higher-yielding and lower-cost crop, with no concern for the effect of this on the surrounding environment or on the people consuming these foods.
What’s the problem with glyphosates (aka Roundup)?
It’s currently estimated that we spray more than 4.5 billion pounds of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) into the soil, plants, and water systems of our planet. And there are now dozens of genetically modified plant species worldwide that have created a seemingly infinite market for chemical companies and their weedkillers. And after “Roundup Ready” crops were introduced in the mid-late 1990’s, this water-soluble toxin would subsequently work its way into the water of grains, fruits, and vegetables, while also infiltrating the groundwater, rivers, oceans, our air, and ultimately our rainfall. Not surprisingly, the diseases in our domesticated animals – from pets to livestock – have followed a similar steep increase.
The amount of glyphosate or glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) estimated in one slice of conventional pizza is approximately 10 parts per million (ppm), in addition to the gliadin protein from the gluten in the crust, which begins to degrade our intestinal tight junction tissue almost immediately upon contact.
First patented and introduced by Monsanto in 1974 for agricultural weed control, the active ingredient in RoundUp (glyphosate), began to be used as a “ripening agent” by 1992. This accelerated process also helped release tons of seeds, aiding in creating more monocrops.
Glyphosates have been shown to be one of the most important causal factors in this epidemic of Celiac Disease, food allergies, dysbiosis, autoimmunity, impairment of the detoxification process, and cancer. Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, which damages the DNA in human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cord cells, and is linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.
What about GMOs?
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are crops engineered to be able to survive the application of glyphosate. These are live organisms whose genetic components have been artificially manipulated in a laboratory setting. This creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and even viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Here are some common examples of these GMO foods:
- Alfalfa (used as feed for dairy cows)
- Factory-farmed, livestock corn feed
With glyphosate now being widely used on these GMO foods, crops are sprayed throughout their lifecycle to prevent weeds and increase crop yield. Unfortunately, the effect of all of this means that groundwater, soil, and even rain all contain measurable levels of glyphosate.
What does glyphosate do inside the human body?
Glyphosate is a profound zonulin stimulator. Research shows 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. Injury to the tight junction membrane in the gut can lead to intestinal permeability, resulting in Leaky Gut Syndrome. The breakdown of this tight junction membrane in the brain can result in a breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and leads to a host of neurological symptoms. The collapse of these firewalls causes all organ systems go under duress. With no natural ‘firewall protection’ in place to protect the body, the acute inflammatory response becomes chronic inflammation as the system is overwhelmed with the outside world.
Gluten causes a similar effect inside the gut. The gliadin protein in gluten also stimulates the release of zonulin, which disrupts the intestinal tight junctions, allowing unwanted proteins to gain entry to the bloodstream. Immune-activating lymphocytes, such as T-cells, are then triggered to begin an inflammatory process against various ‘self’ proteins, thus causing chronic conditions such as eczema, allergies, and asthma.
Things to avoid:
- All GMOs
- Non-organic corn
Additionally, ‘organic food’ specifically means non-GMO, however, there are also many non-organic packaged foods now bearing the non-GMO certification.
What does this mean for my child with eczema and allergies?
For a child with eczema, allergies, or asthma, gluten can be tough to break down due to a weak digestive constitution, which is coated in toxins and pesticides from glyphosate and genetically modified foods. This makes it difficult for the body to effectively process anything within the gut and may end up causing Leaky Gut in addition to a whole range of other soft symptoms.
Choose gluten-free, but AVOID THESE (often found in GF foods):
- Emulsifiers, binders, and fillers as there is no naturally occurring gluten to give products structure
- Vegetable oils – Super cheap, unstable, GMO
- Preservatives – From chemical sources
- Soy products – Genetically modified soy is a cheap, versatile product that can be turned into flours, thickeners, and binders.
- Sugars- often listed under pseudo-names like invert sugar, ‘natural flavor’, glucose syrup, or ‘natural sweetener.’
- Trans Fats- which are highly inflammatory
- Salt from unhealthy sources to improve flavor. These ingredients are heavily processed, making them difficult to digest and have no nutritional value.
Here are foods to remove and avoid:
- Noodles: ramen, udon, soba (those made with only a percentage of buckwheat flour) chow mein, and egg noodles
- Bread and Pastries: croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins, doughnuts, rolls
- Wheat-based crackers
- Baked goods
- Cereal and granolas
- “Breakfast foods”: pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, and pastries
- Breading, croutons & coating mixes: panko breadcrumbs, regular bread crumbs, stuffing and croutons
- Flour tortillas
- Beer (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages
- Brewer’s yeast
- Anything else that uses “wheat flour” as an ingredient
- Varieties and derivatives of wheat such as: Wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, Khorasan wheat/Kamut, einkorn wheat
- Malt in various forms, including malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
- Wheat Starch
- Soy sauce
- Packaged sweets and lollies
- Sauces + gravies (many use wheat flour as a thickener)
- Glucose (can be made from wheat and often found in lollies/candy)
- Marshmallows (often dusted in wheat flour)
- Energy bars/granola bars
- French fries – the batter is likely to contain gluten or the fryers may be contaminated with gluten.
- Potato chips and/or corn chips with flavorings using wheat proteins/grain-based proteins
- Rice Crackers – some brands have wheat/grain starches in their flavorings- Stick to plain varieties.
- Processed lunch meats – know your product, shop from the butcher directly do you can ask any questions.
- Soup – specifically creamy-based ones that contain thickeners
- Salad dressings and marinades – which contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, or thickeners
- Starch or dextrin
- Brown rice syrup – can be made with barley enzymes
- Meat substitutes made with seitan (wheat gluten) such as vegetarian burgers, vegetarian sausage, imitation bacon, imitation seafood, etc.
- Pre-seasoned/marinated meats – Check the labels for flour
- Spice mixes and blends (often contain anti-caking agents and wheat)
- Sausages – Sometimes made with wheat flour. Check with your local butcher or read the packet
- Sprinkles, icing, and cake toppings
Hopefully, these details and food lists provide you with some much-needed insight into what you are feeding your family and how it affects them inside and out. You can start today by keeping your family’s overall diet as clean as possible, freeing the inflammatory glyphosates and gluten. You may start to notice the effects of these changes on your child’s skin and allergic reactions almost immediately, and it will continue to clear up as you keep their diet clean and gluten-free during the following weeks and months. Happy healing!