Humans are facing a global disease crisis. This is occurring at alarming rates – it is widespread and endemic. Just consider that 4% of the U.S population had a chronic disease in 1965. As of 2015, 46% of our children have been diagnosed with a chronic disease. For the first time in America’s history, our children’s expected lifespan is a generation shorter than that of their parents. As if this weren’t a staggering enough statistic, there is evidence actually tracing life expectancy as up to 20 years shorter in areas of high agricultural activity within our country.
An Unexpected Cause
So what is the link here? Independent researchers and experts are pointing the finger more and more assuredly at our widespread pesticide usage. As for the main culprit? Glyphosate, which is the main component of the widely used herbicide, Roundup.
As a matter of fact we increased our use of glyphosate and other pesticides at the same time as these disease crises began to grow in noticeable numbers. We now know that the last century of monocrop farming and pesticide use has not only disrupted the fertile soils of the United States, but it is now wreaking direct and rapid havoc on human health.
We are seeing an increase in two main trends: a dramatic increase in both physical disease (like cancer and diabetes) and in mental health concerns (such as ADD and depression).
Protect Your Microbiome
There is a strong correlation between our pesticide use and our deteriorating health. But why are glyphosate and other pesticides making us so sick, laboratory researchers are asking. Essentially, the human gut biome needs to function properly in order to keep our immune system running effectively enough to ward off unwanted illness. To function, it needs friendly bacteria (think about those fermented foods you’ve heard you should be taking). Antibiotics kill bacteria and so do pesticides. They have the same effect in the gut or in the field.
Glyphosate and other pesticides work by eliminating life outside the main crop, blocking the production of proteins needed for growth in these plants. In humans, what these pesticides do is actually block important amino acids like tryptophan, which is essential for hormone production and regulation (Source: Science Translational Medicine.) This is, as one might guess, hugely problematic for the human body and negatively affects our health in a myriad of ways.
The gut is the seat off all the body’s defenses and research is uncovering that it is directly connected to our brain functionality and mental health. Research laboratories are currently working hard to explain the connection between the loss of the microbiome and the increase in gut and blood/brain dysfunction (leaky gut and leaky brain) which has now been recognized to be a primary cause in many chronic diseases that we see on the rise in both children and adults (Source: Cell Reports). It is now widely suggested that the loss of a diverse and strong microbiome, along with its regulatory capacity is ground zero for both our chronic disease epidemics and the rise in mental illness.
Pesticides Are Antibiotics
It is time to realize that pesticides are antibiotics themselves – antibiotics that are killing what is left of the good bacteria and biodiverse microbiomes in both our soil and in our physical bodies. The most pressing concern pertaining to the chronic disease outbreak we are seeing today is that it generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor does it just disappear. So if the causal effects are not addressed, then this massive health crisis with continue to grow without much end in sight.
We need to dramatically change the way we think about farming and the way we think about disease if we are to effectively solve this crisis. There is no quick or trendy fix for this, but rather long-term and holistic remedies like regenerative farming, that need to become the norm. The health of tomorrow depends on the solutions we employ today. Let’s do this together.
Be well. Be you.
The Farmer’s Footprint Team