Hi Everyone,

After attending what could only be described as one of the most informative, progressive and authentically passionate functional medicine training programs that exists via my role as a brand ambassador for the organic whole food sole source nutrition supplemental feed company – Functional Formularies this week, I thought that I would share with you all the most intriguing education component that I have taken away with me.

functional formularies

Many of you would have heard of the herbicide commercially known as roundup – which is chemically called glyphosate.

Glyphosate has been classified as safe for use, even though there has continually been research performed, and concerns across the globe on its link with cancer development;

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

As with any herbicide, the more the plants become resistant to its effects, the greater the level that needs to be used to bring about the desired weed killing result.

Interestingly, glyphosate is not only sprayed on genetically modified (GM) crops, and it has been found to end up in both non GMO and even organic grain and legume crops in the past.

glyphosate use by crop and year

Glyphosate is used in the ‘browning process’ – a common practice to make plants dry / brown in the field, which results in a lighter grain which is easier to pick up, leading to reductions in fuel and storage costs (as the grain doesn’t have to be stored and dried further in an indoor facility).

In Australia, this doesn’t appear to currently be as great an issue as in other parts of the world due to variances in farming practices, climate and a variety of other factors.

Where glyphosate plays its role in harming the nutritional value of the food it is sprayed on is via its effects on a metabolic pathway called the shikimate pathway.

The shikimate pathway allows plants to produce a variety of amino acids (tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine);

shikimate pathway glyphosate

When a plant loses the ability to produce phenylalanine, the plant loses the ability to produce a range of antioxidants and polyphenols such as anthocyanins and flavones, which means we don’t get these phytonutrients from the plant when we consume it.

shikimate pathway antioxidants

Additionally, these amino acids are actually quite important for the microbes in our body, and when they are unable to be produced, disbiosis can occur, as well as other problems within our mitochondria.

As mammalian cells do not rely on the shikimate pathway, study results may appear to come up as “safe” however within the gastro intestinal tract, because bacteria rely on the shikimate pathway (similarly to plants), glyphosate has deleterious effects on our microbiome.

Worth noting is that because pasture and hay are being sprayed with glyphosate, even grass-fed meat and dairy end up consuming this, and we therefore obtain the glyphosate in large amounts from eating the resultant products that are made from these animals.

Additionally, it is interesting to see correlation figures between glyphosate exposure and autism / neurological conditions.

The correlation coefficient for this is 0.985 (which to put into perspective; smoking and lung cancer have a correlation coefficient of 0.75, and when you get up to 1.0 you are getting closer to a point where a cause and effect relationship starts to be questioned, and further research often gets performed).

Testing of different grains, seeds and legumes across the globe have found quite astounding glyphosate figures, such as:

  • non-GMO grains in the USA– 70-90 mcg/kg
  • organic grains in the USA – 30-60 mcg/kg (tested in oats, wheat and spelt)
  • organic lentils in Europe – 3.75mg / kg
  • conventional lentils -16 out of 54 samples were above the MRL
  • organic flax in the USA- 60mg/kg
  • non-GMO soy beans in the USA – 3.3-5.7 mg/k

Aside from disbiosis (microbial imbalance), high levels of glyphosate leads to higher levels of the short chain fatty acid propionate being produced (this comes in place of butyrate which is known to have a number of positive effects on our bodies); Propionic acid has been seen to have negative effects on our mitochondria.

glyphosate inflammation

Children with autism continually have been found to have a clostridium overgrowth – which appears to often be seen in those with an increased level of circulating propionic acid.

Clostridia, when fed a carbohydrate rich diet, flourish and produce more propionic acid and therefore propionate – which after a few steps disrupts the krebs cycle and can be damaging within the mitochondria of the central nervous system.

This negatively effects the ability of the mitochondria to produce the signalling messages it needs for proper nerve functioning.

As you can see, if we are regularly being exposed to high levels of glyphosate, which leads to more propionate being produced;

And then we compound this by consuming a carbohydrate rich (sugars or simply carbohydrate dense food) diet –

We are literally setting off a cascade event that is continually exacerbating the negative inflammatory response within our bodies.

When animals are exposed to glyphosates, the first class of bacteria to be harmed are bifidobacteria – which are extremely important for our bodies natural detoxification processes (in particular – detoxifying benzene related molecules in our bodies).


So as you can see, many of us are constantly being exposed to microbiome deleterious chemicals (even when eating a “healthy” diet), and for this reason, it is extremely important for us to nourish our guts as best we can via the foods that help it flourish!

What are the key nutrients we can consume in order to improve our gut health?

  • Microbe accessible carbohydrates

acelular carbohydrates

  1. Fermentable fibres – including prebiotic fibres and resistant starches (which I regularly talk about on my social channels)
  2. Lower carbohydrate density foods (this doesn’t mean no carbs, it means selecting foods that are filled with water, fibre, and other macronutrients, rather than heavy loads of concentrated sugars or carbohydrates – often found in many refined and grain based products)
  3. Glucose dominant carbohydrates (lower fructose)
  4. Polyphenol-rich carbohydrate sources

(For more information on some of the extra information in these slides, including references, I would suggest making your way over to the Functional Formularies webpage and taking a look at their resources).

I think its really valuable for all of us to understand this, irrespective of being a dietitian, in a clinical setting, or not.

This information on how to reduce inflammatory pathways, is valuable to us all given the connection between inflammation, lifestyle diseases, mental health and even weight management.

To the dietitians and health professionals that work within a setting that utilise supplemental feeds, this information hopefully plays an enlightening role on the mechanisms in which inflammatory pathways can be set off from different combinations of nutrients.

Many formulated food products, both those used within hospital settings, and those used within the diet and fitness industries, may have similar comparable macronutrient profiles, and even vitamin and mineral compositions; however, as you can see, if the fat sources are coming from omega 6s instead of omega 3s, if the protein sources are coming from the traditional casein, or the sugars are in isolated fructose based forms, these combined compounding pro-inflammatory nutrients, can lead to detrimental health outcomes, which is so clearly not what anyones ultimate goals are.

I hope we can all learn from this together, keep our eyes open for both more information on glyphosate testing as it becomes more well understood, as well as continue to promote the benefits of a gut healthy diet that is filled with prebiotic fibres and other nourishing nutrients that ultimately will nourish our insides, and support our ongoing health.

Please do share this information, as the more people that understand, the better off we all could be – sharing is caring in this instance!

Until next time,

TD x



About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in NYC. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, barre and HIIT class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea on how to make this world a healthier and better place.