What You Need to Know about Our Gut Flora and Contaminants in Our Diet


In this week’s blog, I am going to tie together a video that my colleague Alison Morrow aired and a new study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Alison is the environmental reporter at NBC/King 5 news in Seattle and deeply cares about human health and the environment.  I’ve often found myself wondering what happens when you eat bread full of mold inhibitors with something nutritious like a probiotic-filled yogurt.  Do they cancel each other out or cause more serious issues? Alison and I agree that our "low-dose" exposure to pesticides like glyphosates (Roundup) may disrupt our own microbiome.


What do bacteria do in our bodies?

Our gut bacteria help metabolize food, affect the way in which we detoxify, impact our immune system and regulate our hormones.  Numerous research studies have demonstrated that the state of our gut bacteria may significantly impact diseases such as diabetes, obesity and weight issues, allergies, depression and even colon cancer.

Did you know?

The human body has more bacterial cells than tissue cells. There are about 1.3 bacterial cells to 1 human cell.  These figures can vary from person to person.  In general, there are about 30-50 trillion bacterial cells in our body.

What disrupts our microbiome?

When gut microbes are exposed to environmental contaminants, their metabolic functions can be disrupted resulting in a negative effect on our immune, hormonal and digestive systems, among others.

What glyphosate does to honey bees

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on September 24, 2018, it was found that glyphosate affects the bee gut microbiota.  Glyphosate was shown to increase the bees' susceptibility to pathogens leading to infections and disease.  This is significant to humans and other animals because it was previously thought that glyphosates only affected crops and microorganisms. Read the study here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/09/18/1803880115

A proper diet can improve our gut environment

In my practice, I always start by educating each patient individually about how his or her specific diet, lifestyle and health history affect their propensity towards inflammation, compromised immunity and chronic health conditions.   This is why it’s so important to look at one's overall “load” on the system and find ways to decrease the unwanted and counterproductive contaminants.  The good news is that you can take control over your own health by making better choices every day for you and your family.


Clara Barnett ND, LAc

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