A bit more on GMO's
- and the link to leaky gut, depression and anxiety
From where I sit, one question that comes up is repeatedly is, "What’s causing so many gut issues?"
It's a huge question - why do so many of our horses have gut issues, and what's causing them? You look at all the studies out there, talk to all the vets, and until recently all you heard was ulcers or colic. But lately, there's a new buzz out there with the microbiome word, and for very good reason. However, there are still very few sources of expert data and science relating to the equine microbiome - it's coming, but it's still far from reaching all corners of our world.
What we are seeing, though, is a range of emerging studies and docu-series on natural human health, as the concept of Functional Medicine becomes more prevalent - if you've seen the BBC programme, Doctor in the House, you'll be familiar with Dr Chatterjee, an NHS GP who is now very well known in the field of Functional Medicine. Originally a practicing GP specialist but after his son became very sick, Dr Chatterjee did the reverse of what most doctors do and decided to 'de-specialise', going back to general medicine in order to assess the body and its symptoms holistically.
Here at EquiNatural I very much operate in a similar way by following the principals of Functional Medicine. I fell into this methodology by accident, after Kelso, my husband's first horse, got very sick back in the mid 2000's, so my interest was piqued enough to start studying every health and nutrition model I could find to never have to go through that experience again with any of my horses.
Then, in 2014 I had my own personal journey in overcoming chronic illness, and after I recovered, the learning became even more of an obsession and passion for me; not only did I want to understand fully what the heck had just happened to me over the previous 9-months, but like with Kelso, I never, ever wanted to go through it again. (For the record it was mercury poisoning from a dental procedure, which took me nearly 5-years to get to the bottom of, which I wouldn't have come close to, or effected a recovery from (although there are still low-grade symptoms), without the 'functional' approach).
These days, alongside my equine consultations, I now support human health purely as an advisor based on my own experience and my learning. And - you've guessed it - one of the main subjects that comes up is gut-related problems. I also speak to so many people suffering with depression, anxiety and insomnia, and it always goes right back to what’s going on in the gut being at the root of the problem.
I fervently believe in the practice of Functional Medicine, which as Google will tell you, is a 'personalised therapy method, addressing the underlying causes of disease to achieve the highest expression of health'. Or to put it another way, functional medicine is medicine by cause, not by symptoms; it helps us discover the underlying triggers of dis-ease, with dis-ease meaning the body is ill at ease. With an open-minded approach to dig deeper, it works away from the traditional symptom-treating focus of modern medical practice to a more patient-centred approach.
So, for the purpose of this blog I'm staying with the human study, but it also completely relates to our horses so that's why I'm posting it.
Why do so many people have chronic digestive problems, let alone our horses? In the equine world we have a couple of gut-related labels such as ulcers, colic, parasites ... in the human world we have numerous extra labels such as IBS, Crones, SIBO, Celiac, so I have to ask, as a society are we are being exposed to things we've never encountered before?
There’s certainly been a rise in a host of chronic illness in the 20th century from chlorine. While chlorine wiped out a lot of disease, it created new diseases because chlorine kills bacteria which means it's killing our beneficial gut bacteria. And ... we drink chlorine in our tap water, as well as breathing it in when we take a shower.
However, we can look at agriculture and find, I think, a major part of the answer. With a huge increase in the use of herbicides and pesticides over the last half-century or so, chronic disease rates have escalated as well. So, while we're living longer with modern healthcare intervention and sanitation regulations, we're also living with more chronic illness than ever before.
Now let's look at GMOs, and with their introduction we entered into a whole, new, unexplored frontier. Since the longest feed safety studies are just 90-day toxicology studies, and conducted by the very companies that create GMOs, we’re completely clueless as to the long-term effects of GMOs and their potential to create birth-defects and gut-related illness.
We know that herbicides and pesticides play a role - just like antibiotics and chlorine, they're designed to kill bacteria - their job is to kill fungus, which means they kill the bacteria in the body, which means they wipe out the good gut bacteria as well. But are GMOs causing leaky gut - could they be affecting the gut lining? From what I'm currently studying, the answer is a big Yes.
Two ominous statements were actually made by two GMO advocates, Amanda Lang and Kevin O’Leary, on a Canadian business news television series. A 14yr-old teen activist, Rachel Parent, was on the show, discussing the need for long-term safety studies. Kevin O’Leary interrupted her by saying, “We’re already in a long-term study. You’re eating genetically modified foods whether you like it or not.” To which his co-host, Amanda Lang added, “We’re the lab rats.”
While the hosts didn’t seem to see the glaring admission in their statements, I really do think that using the public as unwitting guinea pigs for health safety studies is wrong wrong wrong, especially when we don’t even have fully transparent labelling laws concerning GMOs. In the US, the senate has repeatedly decided against GMO labelling and you have to ask why, considering what we’re learning about the correlation between the food industry and government agencies that are supposed to be in place to protect our health! Surely, if GMOs are safe, as they claim, and they stand by their products, why do they feel the need to hide the fact that these products are in our foods?
Much like BigPharma, BigAgriGM corps have to alter a plant at the molecular level in order to be able to receive a patent. These patents allow GMO companies to sue anyone who is in possession of their patented seed, even if that seed was carried by the wind and cross-contaminated another field. The owner of that field may not know that his crop has been contaminated with a patented seed, yet, would you believe that GMO companies have been known to bring lawsuits against these farmers.
This allows BigAgriGM to create a near-monopoly on certain crops such as soy and corn, so again, like BigPharma we find ourselves somewhat at the mercy of an all-controlling system who are dominating us. But is BigAgri contibuting to damaging our gut health? To me, it’s too important not to try and understand more about the science behind this.
Personally, my big question is, with our gut systems now so wrecked and creating such epidemic levels of mental health issues and brain disease, what's happened to have destroyed our health so badly?
Let's involve our friend, the humble dandelion, and look at something we've all probably done: have you ever sprayed RoundUp on a dandelion in your garden? I definitely have, but I can honestly say it was well before 2007 when I learned about the dangers of Monsanto’s glyphosate thanks to a barefoot forum I frequented when I took my horses barefoot, and before I knew anything about herbal medicine.
We all know that the active ingredient in RoundUp is glyphosate, and here's the biggie - I'm sorry to say that eating food with Roundup in it will literally do to your gut what Roundup does to the sprayed dandelion, and here’s how.
Imagine the inside of your gut, all nice and healthy. You've got tiny, wavy, finger-like fronds in there called ‘villi’, lining the inside of the small intestine, all 20ft+ long of it (the equine small intestine is around 70ft long), waving around happily like multi-coloured ferns on a coral reef. These villi and microvilli play an amazing role in whole-body health, because their purpose is to increase the surface area of the small intestine by up to 30 and 600 times respectively, in order to absorb nutrients, straight into the bloodstream via the blood vessels present inside the villi.
In other words, the more surface area, the more nutrient absorption, so these tiny villi provide us with an exceptionally efficient nutrient-absorbing system. Clever …
But then along comes food with glyphosate - Roundup - in it. We eat it, it arrives in the small intestine, and ... it shrivels up those amazing little villi in exactly the same way as what it does to the dandelion. And before we can blink, guess what we have? Leaky gut. Immediately.
So what foods have this in? You’ve guessed it - GMO foods. A GMO plant is genetically modified to withstand herbicides, pesticides, fungicides – all the ‘ides’ – during the growth phase, finally followed by glyphosate at the end to basically kill off the plant to dry it out (dessicate) to make it easier to harvest. Then, when the harvest is stored in the barn, it's smothered in a post-harvesting chemical mould-inhibiting spray.
And the primary GM foods on the market? Soya, corn and (franken)wheat. Then there’s the nightshade family such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers – all staple foods, and beyond. And it's not just crops - there's a huge, ever-expanding GM farmed salmon industry, and now even different types of GM crab meats. Even papayas – it’s now known that non-organic papayas are genetically modified. Where does it end?
Leaky gut means that the intestinal wall has become damaged, split, so the still-undigested food in our small intestine (which is now a toxic soup) leaks into the bloodstream. Once it’s there, the body thinks it’s an invader and triggers an autoimmune response.
This is what we’re now seeing all over the human world - a huge increase in autoimmune diseases in the last century, going off the chart. Factor in all the drugs we’re now taking to counter the sickness in our bodies, along with their side effects, and we continue to kill off our beneficial gut microbes as well as damaging our liver which is trying really hard to manage everything! We’re inundating ourselves with toxins that are interfering with healthy gut function, and it's created the fire of inflammation.
If we’re eating the standard, western, good-old regular food from the supermarket shelves, we’re eating GMO soy, GMO corn and GMO wheat, never mind the aluminium (toxic) tins or BPA plastic (toxic) packaging. It’s damaging our digestive systems and causing our intestinal wall to break down. And there we have it - leaky gut.
Leaky gut leads to autoimmune disorders. It leads to immunodeficiency. It leads to food allergies. It leads to environmental allergies. It leads to chemical sensitivities. All inflammation creators, full stop. And lest we forget, with the digestive tract being wrecked by GM foodstuffs, we should also remember that a whopping 85% of our serotonin and dopamine that the body produces, our two beautiful bliss hormones that make us happy, is produced In-The-Gut.
Which means ... leaky gut leads to brain disease, mental health issues, depression and anxiety.
Food for thought I reckon ... time to recheck feedbag ingredients, and any hint at wheat, soy or corn, in any way, shape or form ? Nuff said.
For further info on my take on today's equine feed industry, see our Feeding our Horses section, and rest assured that our entire herbal range is pure, lovely, organic through and through.
PS - I'm currently in the middle of a fantastically eye-opening gut-health study so I'm sure there'll be more to come on this :-)