Antibiotics or Roundup: Which is more damaging to your gut?

Written by Susan Brady

By now you know that your gut houses trillions of microorganisms. Most of these microorganisms are beneficial to our health. They aid in digestion, vitamin production, regulation of the immune system and inflammation, regulation of bone metabolism, and production of neurotransmitters that affect our mood and brain health. Among this community of microorganisms, there are also opportunistic bacteria and yeast. In small numbers, these so-called “bad” microorganisms are harmless. However, if they overgrow and start to overpopulate the gut microbiota it can lead to dysbiosis, inflammation, and associated disease conditions. By nourishing and supporting the beneficial bacteria, their abundance will naturally crowd out and prevent the overgrowth of opportunistic organisms. It is when the beneficial bacteria become compromised, that the opportunistic organisms will overgrow and start to dominate the gut.

It is well known that antibiotics can affect this critical balance of organisms in our gut microbiota. But so can numerous other things, including the herbicides used when farming our food.

Which do you think is more likely to damage your gut bacteria? Antibiotics or consuming foods that have been sprayed with the weed killer known as Roundup?

You might be surprised to learn that even though antibiotics can certainly have a negative effect on the gut microbiota, consuming conventionally grown foods sprayed with Roundup can actually be more damaging.

Here’s Why:

Antibiotics kill off ALL bacteria. When you take an antibiotic it not only targets the bacteria that is causing your infection, but also the bacteria in the gut microbiome. Antibiotics don’t discriminate, they eradicate the beneficial bacteria as well as the opportunistic bacteria.

Roundup works differently. The main ingredient in Roundup is a chemical called glyphosate. When glyphosate was originally developed by Monsanto in the 1970’s it was patented as an herbicide. However, it was then discovered to also have antimicrobial properties and Monsanto was later awarded a patent for glyphosate as an antibiotic. The antibiotic property of glyphosate is one of the primary ways it kills off the weeds and unwanted plant life. However, glyphosate is selective in the bacteria that it kills. Research indicates that glyphosate appears to preferentially kill off beneficial bacteria, like bifidobacterium and lactobacilli, allowing for an overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are two of the most important bacteria for plant health and human health.

So unlike antibiotics that kill off both the beneficial and opportunistic bacteria, glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup targets the beneficial bacteria while allowing the opportunistic bacteria to flourish.

Roundup has been the most widely used herbicide in the United States since 2001. Not only is it sprayed on the plants that we directly eat but also on the crops that our livestock eat. In animals such as pigs, cows, chickens, the glyphosate accumulates in the flesh that we then consume. In particular, it gets concentrated in the collagen of animals. Getting more collagen in our diets is the number one reason why we consume bone broth! Research has confirmed that glyphosates alter the gut microbiota of animals and there is growing evidence that it also disrupts our human microbiota. Until glyphosates are banned in the US, as they have been in many EU countries, for the sake of your gut, avoid them as best you can.

How to avoid glyphosates?

  • Try to eat organically as much as possible to minimize exposure to Roundup and other herbicides whose primary ingredient is glyphosate. Foods most heavily sprayed with glyphosates are:
    • soy, wheat, rice, corn, almonds, apples, apricots, asparagus, cherries, and dates
  • Avoid genetically modified foods. GMO foods are plant or meat products that have had their DNA altered in a laboratory. Most GMO foods grown in the US are “Roundup Ready,” meaning they can withstand spraying of Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide and live, while weeds around it die. In turn, GMO foods can have a higher residue of glyphosates.
  • Look for labels. Besides looking for USDA Organic labels, also look for labels such as NON GMO Project Verified label and the newest Glyphosate Residue Free labeling.

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We have known for many years that antibiotics can damage gut microbiota. However, if you have to take an antibiotic to overcome an infection, it is generally only for a short period of time. Eating prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods and/or taking a probiotic supplement after taking an antibiotic can help to re-establish a healthy gut microbiota. Unfortunately, if you are not careful about what you eat, you can be exposed to glyphosates on a daily basis causing an ongoing and unrelenting assault on those precious bacteria that make up our gut microbiome. Even a probiotic with billions of bacteria will have difficulty maintaining a healthy gut microbiome under a constant barrage of glyphosates.

 

If you want to take a deeper dive into all the ways the gut and your digestion affect the health of your bones, please check out my free webinar “Is your gut holding your bones hostage”. Click here to go to the webinar.

Please reach out if you have any questions or would like to schedule a consult to talk about how to get your gut healthy!

703-738-4230

susan@nurturedbones.com

 

 

References:

  1. Aitbali, Yassine, Saadia Ba-M’hamed, Najoua Elhidar, Ahmed Nafis, Nabila Soraa, and Mohamed Bennis. “Glyphosate Based- Herbicide Exposure Affects Gut Microbiota, Anxiety and Depression-like Behaviors in Mice.” Neurotoxicology and Teratology 67 (June 2018): 44–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2018.04.002.
  2. Barnett, Jacqueline A., and Deanna L. Gibson. “Separating the Empirical Wheat From the Pseudoscientific Chaff: A Critical Review of the Literature Surrounding Glyphosate, Dysbiosis and Wheat-Sensitivity.” Frontiers in Microbiology 11 (2020). https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2020.556729.
  3. Bruggen, A. H. C. van, M. R. Finckh, M. He, C. J. Ritsema, P. Harkes, D. Knuth, and V. Geissen. “Indirect Effects of the Herbicide Glyphosate on Plant, Animal and Human Health Through Its Effects on Microbial Communities.” Frontiers in Environmental Science 9 (2021). https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fenvs.2021.763917.
  4. “Frontiers | Separating the Empirical Wheat From the Pseudoscientific Chaff: A Critical Review of the Literature Surrounding Glyphosate, Dysbiosis and Wheat-Sensitivity | Microbiology.” Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2020.556729/full.
  5. ĀTA – Simply Better. “Glyphosate: What It Is and Why You Should Be Concerned,” February 4, 2019. https://ata.land/glyphosate-the-big-issue/.
  6. Hu, Jianzhong, Corina Lesseur, Yu Miao, Fabiana Manservisi, Simona Panzacchi, Daniele Mandrioli, Fiorella Belpoggi, Jia Chen, and Lauren Petrick. “Low-Dose Exposure of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Disrupt the Urine Metabolome and Its Interaction with Gut Microbiota.” Scientific Reports 11, no. 1 (February 5, 2021): 3265. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82552-2.
  7. Mao, Qixing, Fabiana Manservisi, Simona Panzacchi, Daniele Mandrioli, Ilaria Menghetti, Andrea Vornoli, Luciano Bua, 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: A Global Access Science Source 17, no. 1 (May 29, 2018): 50. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-018-0394-x.
  8. Mesnage, Robin, Maxime Teixeira, Daniele Mandrioli, Laura Falcioni, Quinten Raymond Ducarmon, Romy Daniëlle Zwittink, Francesca Mazzacuva, et al. “Use of Shotgun Metagenomics and Metabolomics to Evaluate the Impact of Glyphosate or Roundup MON 52276 on the Gut Microbiota and Serum Metabolome of Sprague-Dawley Rats.” Environmental Health Perspectives 129, no. 1 (January 2021): 17005. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP6990.
  9. Motta, Erick V. S., Kasie Raymann, and Nancy A. Moran. “Glyphosate Perturbs the Gut Microbiota of Honey Bees.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115, no. 41 (October 9, 2018): 10305–10. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1803880115.

Surgery Rehabilitation

While providing rehabilitation after my two hip surgeries, Susan also educated me in the importance of proper nutrition for strengthening my bones and improving my bone density. She encouraged me to eat an alkaline-based diet and to eliminate the junk food I was so fond of. Not only did I heal quickly, but also the doctors were amazed by the rapid bone growth as noted on my x-rays. I continue to include chia and pumpkin seeds in my diet, as well as other foods that are alkaline based. I honestly have Susan to thank for this complete transformation in my diet which has allowed me to go back to wearing heels which I thought I would never be able to do again. Nutrition matters. I am a perfect example of good bones from good food!” ~R.G.

Proper Exercise and Nutrition

“Susan Brady is very knowledgeable about osteoporosis. In 2016, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my lower back. Through proper exercise and nutrition, Susan was able to guide me towards a regimen that would in turn almost reverse my symptoms. Because of her method, I have been able to curb my bone loss, gain strength, and improve my overall health. I feel that I am on the road to a happier, healthier lifestyle thanks to Susan.”~ B.L.

Osteoporosis Nutrition

After being diagnosed with osteoporosis, I began sifting through all the information available on nutrition and osteoporosis, but it was confusing and time consuming. Even though I thought my diet was good, Susan gave me advice on how to make it even better! I benefited very much from Susan’s nutritional advice and guidance for safe and effective exercises. My recent bone scan showed improvements in both my hip and my spine, so I am encouraged that all the changes that I have made are working! ~ M.R.

Prescription Holiday

Initially, I went to Susan Brady because my family doctor told me to take a holiday from the prescription bone density medicine that I had been taking it for many years. I avoid dairy since I am lactose intolerant and sensitive to dairy protein. I was confident that Susan could recommend a superior quality calcium, balanced with other supplements that would help provide the nutrients I needed for bone health. In addition to recommendations for supplements, she has evaluated my diet and my exercise regimen, making suggestions as needed. With guidance from Susan I have been able to maintain bone health without additional bone density medicine for several years now. ~K.N.

Goodbye Osteoporosis!

Guess who no longer has osteoporosis in her spine?? DEXA says now -2.4 osteopenia where was -3.2 before. HUGE improvement. No medication, just exercise and nutrition. I still have a ways to go with my hips and femoral neck, but this is really great news for me! ~D.S. 

Alkaline Based Diet

While providing rehabilitation after my two hip surgeries, Susan also educated me in the importance of proper nutrition for strengthening my bones and improving my bone density. She encouraged me to eat an alkaline-based diet and to eliminate the junk food I was so fond of. Not only did I heal quickly, but also the doctors were amazed by the rapid bone growth as noted on my x-rays. I continue to include chia and pumpkin seeds in my diet, as well as other foods that are alkaline based. I honestly have Susan to thank for this complete transformation in my diet which has allowed me to go back to wearing heels which I thought I would never be able to do again. Nutrition matters — I am a perfect example of good bones from good food! ~R.G.

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