GMO’s and food chemicals directly impact our gut health and how we feel on a daily basis. I’m breaking it all down in this article and sharing an updated 2021 Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen list to keep it simple!
THE PRESENCE OF GMO’S
GMO’s impact our gut health and have a tremendous impact on how we feel and function. Did you know that 80% of our food is genetically modified and the average Canadian will eat about 30,000 GMO’s today alone? Yes, you heard that correctly!
As a nutritionist it is my mission to inform you about the environmental dangers, gut health side effects, and future considerations of GMO’s in our food supply. Now, I'm not going to sit here and say i'm 100% GMO free because i'm not. However, I pick my battles and try my best to avoid them.
WHAT ARE GMO’S
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a lab through engineering.
This organism is created by using a combination of plants, animals, bacteria, and virus genes that don’t occur naturally through traditional development. This basically means that our food is being manipulated and isn’t as “natural” as we think anymore.
So why do we use them in the first place you may ask? I have asked this question so many times myself. We can probably get into a long discussion about that but we will skip over that part for the sake of this article. GMO’s in short prevent browning, enhance taste, increase size, keep costs down, and increase the quantity of products over a shorter duration.
FOODS HIGHEST IN GMO’S
With an abundance of packaged and processed foods in the marketplace nowadays, we are seeing an increase in GMO’s in just about every product since soy and genetically modified oils and fats are typically used as an ingredient to extend shelf life.
GMO’s are found just about everywhere we look but are going to be found primarily in crops such as:
Other foods typically high in GMO’s:
THE DECLINE IN NUTRITION SINCE GMO’S WERE INTRODUCED
We are living in an environment where food is being manipulated. Over the past few decades, food has been genetically altered with hybridization techniques. Processed factory-made foods that have no nutrients fill the shelves in the grocery store. We are living in a time with depleted soil and industrial farming. Our increased chronic stress is robbing us from nutrients. In addition, our living environment is toxic (check out my Toxins & You Quiz inside this freebie here), we lack adequate sunlight, and food travels way too far to make its way to us. This is only scratching the surface but some of the reasons we’ve seen a decline in gut health and nutrition in general.
Unfortunately, the Canada is one of the only regions where GMO labeling isn’t required. Foods can be labeled GMO free, but not all companies can afford the crazy high price it cost to have that 'non-gmo' label on their packaging, so you are left to wonder. In fact, 60 countries around the world require GMO’s to be labeled on products and about 300 regions have actually implemented a ban on GMO’s altogether. This is primarily because of the health studies that link GMO’s with disease.
GMO GUT HEALTH CONCERNS
The toxic herbicide known as roundup contains an ingredient called glyphosate. This toxic ingredient has been confirmed as a carcinogenic compound and poison that poses long term impacts on gut health which are still unknown.
Besides glyphosate being cancerous, it is also studied and linked to contribute other health imbalances and impact our gut health specifically.
An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system fails to recognize the body’s healthy cells. GMO’s can contribute to:
The majority of children in the US now have life-threatening allergies to corn, milk, peanuts or other GMO foods. Here are some scary statistics:
Peanut allergies alone doubled since the start of GMO’s
1 out of every 50 children is allergic to peanuts in the United States
Peanuts and peanut butter is banned from most schools
Over the last 10 years 1 out of every 17 children in the U.S. developed a food allergy
Over the last 10 years hospital emergency rooms across the nation experienced a 400% increase in food allergy emergencies
Altered Digestive Health
80% of your immune system is in your gut. The following is a result of excess GMO’s on gut health:
Dysbiosis (imbalances of prebiotics and probiotics)
Decreased naturally occurring enzymes
Decreased stomach acid
Increase in food sensitivities & intolerances
Leaky gut & intestinal permeability
Altered Brain Function
The gut is the second brain. If the gut is altered, so is the health of our brain. GMO’s alter brain chemistry and have been linked to:
GMO’s are known to contribute to imbalances that alter sex hormones which can contribute to:
Premature sex organ development
We are what we eat! GMO’s can impact our genetics, detoxification, and metabolism causing gut health imbalances that can lead to:
Obesity & weight gain
Difficulty losing weight
Altered blood sugar metabolism
HPA Axis Dysfunction
Vitamin & mineral deficiencies
OTHER SYMPTOMS OF EXCESS GMO’S
The list of actual symptoms associated with these conditions and gut health imbalances are still being studied. The good news is you CAN avoid GMO’s by making simple changes to your diet and shopping in the right health food store.
HOW TO AVOID GMO’s TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
I recommend trying your best to eat organic as much as possible! It really does make a difference and it is worth the investment to your health. I teach my clients to read and look out for the PLU sticker on fruits and vegetables and make sure the 5-digit code starts with a number 9 which ensures that it is organic. If it starts with an 8, it contains GMO’s. If it starts with any other number, it contains pesticides and the farmer may use roundup.
A slogan I use often to help people remember this, “I HATE 8, 9 IS FINE”. You can also look for the organic label on meats and dairy as well as the non-GMO project verified label with the butterfly which is easy to identify on a packaged product.
One of the reasons I personally love shopping at a health food store that adheres to the non-GMO project is because I know that nothing is even allowed inside if it contains GMO’s. This peace of mind is everything for me!
DIRTY DOZEN LIST (2020)
I often get asked if I always buy and eat everything organic. I’ll be the first to tell you that gut health nutritionists like myself don’t eat perfect all the time or avoid GMO’s completely!
While I try to do my best to eat mostly organic, it’s just about impossible in some situations such as traveling, events, dining out, etc. I am a big believer in having BALANCE. With that being said though, there are certain types of produce that I stay clear of because they are known to be high in GMO’s compared to others. This is where the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” come in really handy.
DIRTY DOZEN & CLEAN 15
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) is committed to protecting the environment and human health. They publish reports relating to water quality, toxins in cosmetics, and GMO’s.
The EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ (aka Dirty Dozen and Clean 15) is revised and updated each year. The guide ranks pesticide contamination on 47 of the most popular and common fruits and vegetables.
The top 15 foods with the least pesticides and GMO’s are referred to as the Clean 15. The 12 foods with the most pesticides are called the Dirty Dozen.
These are best to buy conventional (not organic) – Updated 2021
Sweet peas (frozen)
Buy these organic whenever possible – Updated 2021
+ EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus:
Sweet Bell Peppers
You might be wondering about all the other produce. The EWG ranks the produce that typically contains the most GMO’s and pesticides from 1 to 47, so there are definitely foods in between the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. Here is the FULL list that shows the order from most amounts of pesticides at the top (Dirty Dozen), to the fewest pesticides (Clean 15).
13. Sweet Bell Peppers
14. Cherry Tomatoes
18. Hot Peppers
20. Green Beans
24. Snap Peas
25. Winter Squashes
28. Summer Squashes*
30. Sweet Potatoes
34. Honeydew Melon
42. Sweet Peas Frozen
46. Sweet Corn*
Eat local! Choosing locally grown food in your area reduces the GMO risk. In addition, get to know your farmer! Most local farms actually practice organic farming, but don’t label due to the high cost and regulations.
Add avocados! As if you needed another reason to love avocados, they are #1 on the list which just makes everything right in the world. Avocado makes an excellent healthy fat source and is an incredibly versatile ingredient in meals, deserts, and smoothies.
Wash your produce! Just because something is on the Clean 15 list or is organic, doesn’t mean you don’t have to wash it. I suggest rubbing and rinsing produce in warm water with a small amount of coconut oil or soaking in filtered water with a few tsp of baking soda and drops of grapefruit seed extract.
Keep these lists handy! Pin the pictures below and take them with you to the grocery store so that you know when to buy organic and when it’s okay to buy conventional if needed.
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Links on this website are provided only as an informational resource, and it should not be implied that we recommend, endorse or approve of any of the content at the linked sites, nor are we responsible for their availability, accuracy or content.
Any review or other matter that could be regarded as a testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of any consultation. The testimonials on this website represent the anecdotal experience of individual consumers. Individual experiences are not a substitute for scientific research.