Is it Gluten…or Pesticides? Solutions for gut health may require attention to both

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If you’ve been dealing with ongoing digestive problems, you’ve probably considered going gluten free by now. Maybe you’ve even joined the gluten-free movement already. Afterall, gluten—the main protein in wheat and other grains like barley and rye— is increasingly seen as a primary culprit in chronic digestive problems, as well as many other “mystery ailments.”  

And these cases are rising.  

 But what exactly has changed? Why are more people experiencing what can sometimes be debilitating symptoms, from a simple food that’s been a staple of the human diet for millennia?  

People around the world have been eating wheat for thousands of years, without health consequences. However, the last several decades have seen a sharp rise in both celiac disease and less severe gluten intolerances—particularly in the U.S. 

Researchers are finding that the real culprit may not only be the gluten itself—but also the pesticides and other chemicals used to produce and process the grain. 

The Spectrum of Gluten Intolerance  

Gluten may impact your health in different ways, depending on your sensitivity:  

·Gluten or wheat allergy—This can produce a severe immune response to wheat and the proteins in contains, but without lasting damage to the body. 

·Gluten intolerance (AKA non-celiac gluten sensitivity)—This can unleash a wide range of symptoms, but without a severe autoimmune response, when gluten is consumed. 

·Celiac—This increasingly common autoimmune condition causes tiny amounts of gluten to trigger a severe immune attack on your intestines. 

Wheat allergies, while uncommon, can be life-threatening. Celiac disease on the other hand, impacts about 1.4% of the global population and can result in long-term health problems and complications. Experts estimate that gluten intolerance is the most common problem, with 6% or more of the population affected by some degree of gluten sensitivity. [1]  

Both wheat allergies and celiac disease are diagnosed with medical tests. Gluten intolerance on the other hand, is more challenging to properly diagnose because there’s no established diagnostic test. Instead, diagnosis is usually made by elimination, when someone tested negative for celiac, but improves after eliminating gluten.  

Signs of Gluten Problems 

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease can produce a range of mysterious symptoms and problems including:[2] 

·   headaches and pain 

·   depression, stress and anxiety 

·   joint stiffness and pain 

·   bone loss 

·   fatigue 

·   brain fog and memory problems 

·   skin problems  

The ongoing GI inflammation caused by celiac and to a lesser degree, gluten intolerance, can damage the gut lining, which can lead to numerous system-wide problems including chronic inflammation, allowing other more serious diseases to take hold.   

The main solution is to avoid eating wheat and gluten. But as anyone who’s tried it knows, eliminating gluten from your life is not as easy as it sounds. 

Worse, it doesn’t always work. 

Why Gluten-Free May Not Be Enough 

One of the big challenges in going gluten-free, is that foods labeled as such, often contain gluten. In one report,[3] gluten was detected in 32% of 5,600+ foods labeled gluten-free! 53% of “gluten-free” pizzas and 51% of “gluten-free” pastas still contained gluten. A large-scale report in 2020 led researchers to conclude: “Foods labeled gluten-free should not be considered safe” for people needing to avoid gluten.[4] 

 However, research shows that even if you do manage to become 100% gluten-free, this alone may not be enough to actively heal your gut from the inflammatory damage.[5,6]  

There’s also another emerging threat to GI health, and it’s closely related to the gluten problem: Glyphosate—the most widely used weed killer in the world.[7] Glyphosate is used extensively on wheat and many other crops grown in the US. And while glyphosate might not seem related to your health issues, research proves otherwise. 

Gluten vs Glyphosate 

Scientists have raced to understand the rise in gluten-related illnesses. One theory suggests that modern wheat strains have a much higher gluten content.[8] But later results showed that a high-gluten diet didn’t increase GI symptoms, immune responses, or intestinal inflammation when compared to a low- or no-gluten diet.[9] 

So researchers shifted their focus to other factors …including glyphosate.  

What we’re seeing is that glyphosate poisoning can share a lot of the same symptoms as gluten sensitivity, including intestinal inflammation and damage to long-term digestive function.[10] Glyphosate destroys beneficial bacteria in the gut, and allows pathogenic bacteria a foothold.[11] The toxic weed killer also prevents essential enzymes, cytochromes P450 (CYP450), from functioning properly… the same enzymes that are impaired in celiac disease. 

By shutting down CYP450 enzymes, glyphosate makes it difficult for your body to: 

·   remove toxins  

·   create bile (important for detox and nutrient absorption) 

·   make essential fatty acids 

·   activate vitamin D 

·   metabolize vitamin A  

Because glyphosate destroys beneficial microbes and allows pathogenic ones to thrive, it’s implicated in a condition called gut dysbiosis, where harmful pathogens outnumber good ones—with serious long-term health impacts.[12] 

3 Steps to Protect and Heal Your Gut  

In today’s world, and especially in the US, it can be difficult to completely avoid gluten and glyphosate. But by taking proactive steps to protect yourself and support GI integrity, you can help avoid more serious health problems down the road.  

# 1: Detoxify 

To start healing your gut, you first need to remove toxins. For this, I recommend safe, gentle, natural detoxifiers that can also support your GI system, as well as block the absorption and of new toxins. To safely cleanse the digestive tract of pesticides and toxins and promote a healthy terrain, my go-to is a targeted pesticide detox formula containing the following:  

·   Glycine (an amino acid) blocks glyphosate uptake at receptor sites in the body, to help prevent glyphosate from tricking your body into storing it. Glycine also supports production of glutathione to help your body detox.[13] 

·   Iodine prevents other toxins such as fluoride from being stored in places like the thyroid.[14] 

·   Alginate (a seaweed extract) helps detox the digestive system and prevents toxins from being reabsorbed through the intestines.[15] 

·   Citrus pectin covers a wide range of toxins and heavy metals, and supports overall digestive health.[16] 

# 2: Heal 

Once your body burden of toxins—including gluten and glyphosate—has been reduced, the repair process can begin. The goal is to reduce inflammation and help heal the damaged intestinal lining.  

Essential gut-healing supplements include: 

·   Fish oil reduces inflammation and helps heal the gut[17]  

·   Citrus pectin promotes healthy GI environment[18] 

·   Glycine is an anti-inflammatory that helps repair the gut wall.[19] 

# 3: Replenish 

After toxins are actively removed, the intestines have been supported, and healing has begun, you can focus on balancing your gut microbiome.  

Research shows that microbiome diversity, including a range of healthy beneficial microbes, can help reduce autoimmune and allergic reactions to gluten and other triggers.  

When you replenish and nourish your microbiome, you also support optimal detox capacity, nutrient absorption, immune function, neurological and brain health, and much more. In my practice, I’ve seen remarkable results with an organic, botanically-enhanced probiotic formula containing additional prebiotics, for optimal microbiome balance.  

Most importantly, a robust, balanced microbiome can help reverse the difficult GI symptoms triggered by gluten, glyphosate and other toxins.[20]  

In today’s health climate, gluten sensitivity may seem like the least of our concerns. But the truth is, the digestive system is closely intertwined with immunity, as well as neurological health, hormone balance and much more. These steps listed here can help not only those with gluten issues, but anyone seeking greater digestive health and function—which in turn can bring numerous protective benefits for overall wellness and vitality.  


[1] Igbinedion SO, Ansari J, Vasikaran A, et al. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: All wheat attack is not celiac. World J Gastroenterol. 2017;23(40):7201-7210. doi:10.3748/wjg.v23.i40.7201 

[2] Leffler DA, Green PH, Fasano A. Extraintestinal manifestations of coeliac disease. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015;12(10):561-571. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2015.131 

[i3 Lerner BA, Phan Vo LT, Yates S, Rundle AG, Green PHR, Lebwohl B. Detection of Gluten in Gluten-Free Labeled Restaurant Food: Analysis of Crowd-Sourced Data. Am J Gastroenterol. 2019;114(5):792-797. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000000202 

[4] Falcomer AL, Santos Araújo L, Farage P, Santos Monteiro J, Yoshio Nakano E, Puppin Zandonadi R. Gluten contamination in food services and industry: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(3):479-493. doi:10.1080/10408398.2018.1541864 

[5] Rubio-Tapia A, Rahim MW, See JA, Lahr BD, Wu TT, Murray JA. Mucosal recovery and mortality in adults with celiac disease after treatment with a gluten-free diet. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010;105(6):1412-1420. doi:10.1038/ajg.2010.10 

[6] Welstead L. The Gluten-Free Diet in the 3rd Millennium: Rules, Risks and Opportunities. Diseases. 2015;3(3):136-149. Published 2015 Jul 13. doi:10.3390/diseases3030136 

[7] Landrigan PJ, Belpoggi F. The need for independent research on the health effects of glyphosate-based herbicides. Environmental Health. 2018;17:51. 

[8] Kasarda DD. Can an increase in celiac disease be attributed to an increase in the gluten content of wheat as a consequence of wheat breeding?. J Agric Food Chem. 2013;61(6):1155-1159. 

[9] Biesiekierski JR, Peters SL, Newnham ED, Rosella O, Muir JG, Gibson PR. No effects of gluten in patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates. Gastroenterology. 2013;145(2):320-8.e83. 

[10] Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013;6(4):159-184. doi:10.2478/intox-2013-0026 

[11] Motta EVS1,  Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Sep 24. pii: 201803880. 

[12] Mao Q, Manservisi F, Panzacchi S, et al. The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study on glyphosate and Roundup administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on the microbiome. Environmental Health. 2018;17:50. 

[13] Razak MA, Begum PS, Viswanath B, Rajagopal S. Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:1716701. doi:10.1155/2017/1716701 

[14] Waugh DT. Fluoride Exposure Induces Inhibition of Sodium/Iodide Symporter (NIS) Contributing to Impaired Iodine Absorption and Iodine Deficiency: Molecular Mechanisms of Inhibition and Implications for Public Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(6):1086. 

[15] Marta Szekalska,1 Agata Puciłowska,1 Emilia Szymańska,1 Patrycja Ciosek,2 and Katarzyna Winnicka1. Alginate: Current Use and Future Perspectives in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Applications. International Journal of Polymer Science. Volume 2016 |Article ID 7697031 | 17 pages  

[16] Eliaz I, Weil E, Wilk B. Integrative medicine and the role of modified citrus pectin/alginates in heavy metal chelation and detoxification–five case reports. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007;14(6):358-364. doi:10.1159/000109829 

[17] Ferretti G, Bacchetti T, Masciangelo S, Saturni L. Celiac disease, inflammation and oxidative damage: a nutrigenetic approach. Nutrients. 2012;4(4):243-257. doi:10.3390/nu4040243 

[18] Eliaz I, Raz A. Pleiotropic Effects of Modified Citrus Pectin. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2619. Published 2019 Nov 1. doi:10.3390/nu11112619 

[19] Zhong Z, Wheeler MD, Li X, et al. L-Glycine: a novel antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003;6(2):229-240. 

[20] Verna EC, Lucak S. Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend?. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2010;3(5):307-319. doi:10.1177/1756283X10373

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