The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Side of GMOs And Their Link to IBD
We live in a world with fascinating scientific advances, but unfortunately, not all these developments are beneficial. Case in point: genetically modified food. These GM foods or so-called biotech foods come from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are generated in a laboratory. Already, this doesn't sound natural. But in addition to the rising economic, ecological and ethical questions raised by GMOs, there is a growing health risk. What kind of health risks are we talking about? Specifically, a higher risk for allergies, toxic intestinal bacteria, reduced immune function, liver problems and many other highly controversial links. These risks apply to everyone, but especially those with irritable bowel diseases. For a patient with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, they're devastating, making it difficult for patients to recover properly, especially with so many other complications involved.
Ultimately, GMOs create bowel hypersensitivity, increase inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining. This makes IBD and IBS cases much worse, as they contribute and in some cases, may actually trigger these diseases. What we want to talk about today is what we specialize in – integrative digestive medical solutions. We'll take a long hard look at the evidence and determine if there really is a link and if so, what should be done about it.
What Is A GMO And Where Are They Found?
The five main GM foods are soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets and not surprisingly, their derivatives have been discovered in over 70% of foods in your local grocery store. Wheat, gluten and peanuts are among the most common allergens and patients with IBS or other IBDs should already avoid them because they are strong trigger foods. When adding GMOs to the mix, the equation becomes a much greater risk. These foods are modified so that they can resist suicidal levels of herbicides, pesticides and insecticides. Not to mention the damaging effect on the environment that these chemicals have, they are passed on through the food to you. Now that's a scary thought. Some of these plants are even modified to produce poisons using inserted genes such as Bt-toxin. There is a link between Bt and toxic and allergic reactions in humans and animals and may cause extensive damage to the digestive system. According to The Daily Mail, a landmark study found 93 per cent of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80 per cent from umbilical cords tested positive for traces of the chemicals. And what these chemicals seem to do is astonishing. While research is still in its infant stages (keep in mind that GMOs have only been on the market for a short time), consumers are treated like guinea pigs. Let's look at some of the various connections that have been found.
How GMOs May Damage The Digestive System
In laboratory settings, animals that ingest GMOs have been shown to have adverse digestive and immune system effects. In fact, according to The Huffington Post, "Virtually every animal feeding study that looked for immune changes from GMOs found them. GM-fed animals had a sluggish immune responses, damaged organs associated with immunity, altered parameters in the blood, and dangerous inflammatory and immune reactions." Why wait to find out if this same effect is found in humans?
For IBD patients, who have immune-altered states to begin with, exposure to infections, toxins and GMO products of this caliber dangerously accelerates digestive problems.
The number of people that are diagnosed with allergies has skyrocketed in the United States and the UK has good documentation that after the GE soybean was introduced, soy-related allergies rose to 50%. Allergic reactions in the gut have been linked to a number of gastrointestinal diseases, including Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. To learn more about these diseases, click here. Common food allergies and triggers for IBS and IBD patients include wheat products, soy, corn and gluten products. GM foods cause horrific synergistic effects on the digestive system and when you combine these aggravators, you are likely to find additionally digestive problems and inflammation.
Toxic intestinal bacteria
Remember those Bt toxins that transfer from GM crops? These could potentially turn the bacteria in the gut into living pesticide factories. You may remember from biology class that certain bacteria in the gut have a beneficial purpose for digestion and immunity. Some postulate that increased exposure to herbicide residues can kill off these beneficial gut flora, giving increased chance of developing diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's. Digestive health worsens for IBD and IBS patients as GMOs play into the viscous inflammation cycle already in place. This makes repopulating healthy bacteria nearly impossible unless you cleanse the body of GMOs and remove them from your diet completely. But this isn't easy – it first involves disinfecting the gastrointestinal lining and then healing it.
Lesions and Leaky Gut Syndrome
When fed GMOs, lab animals were proven to develop lesions in the stomach, harm the intestinal tract, and promote unchecked cell growth, including the kinds that can lead to certain bowel cancers. Leaky gut syndrome is when the intestinal lining grows inflamed, damaging the microvilli. When microvilli are damaged, they are prevented from absorbing essential nutrients. There is substantial evidence that GMOs can lead to these symptoms. When IBD and IBS patients already have leaky gut and poor digestive absorption, GMOs make healing this condition almost impossible. Many doctors rely on steroids, telling patients that diet is less important. However, GI health requires returning absorption to normal. When GMOs attack the integrity of microvilli, that isn't possible.
What To Do If GMOs Damage Your Digestive System
The first and more important step you can take to protect yourself from damages that may be caused by GMOs is to change your diet. Non-GMO, free-range and otherwise organic foods should replace any GMOs you regularly consume. It also helps to avoid the most common food allergens, such as gluten and sugar products. Additionally, patients need to cleanse and disinfect the bowel, returning it to full health. However, the damage caused may be long-lasting. GMOs may make your allergic to non-GM foods. Since the genetic material in GM soy transfers to the bacteria living in the intestines, it continues to function and spew proteins continuously. Clearing the body of these harmful substances is no easy task.
If you have Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis or any other digestive problem, contact us today to learn more about our personalized, integrative treatment plan.