Impaired gut health is a major issue in tube fed individuals. Chronic inflammation, intestinal permeability and reduced diversity of gut microbes are common complications related to the use of enteral nutrition in medically complex individuals. Consuming genetically modified foods can further complicate these issues.
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Most GMOs have been engineered to withstand the use of herbicides or to produce insecticides on their own. New techniques are also being used to develop other traits in plants, like resistance to browning and to create new organisms. Some of the most widely produced GMO crops are corn, soy, canola and sugar beet. Many crops are further refined and turned into processed ingredients such as: corn starch, corn syrup, canola oil, soy lecithin, citric acid, maltodextrin, flavorings and vitamins. When you look at the ingredient list of most commercial enteral formulas, you will see several of these listed, often as the first or second ingredient.
So how does genetically modifying a food affect the consumer and the environment? There is a lot of debate surrounding this topic, but one thing is for sure: the vast majority of GMO crops contain high levels of glyphosates, a toxic herbicide. Glyphosate is an active ingredient in Roundup. Notably, the increase in glyphosate usage in the United States is extremely well correlated with the concurrent increase in the incidence and/or death rate of multiple diseases, including several cancers.1 In fact, the World Health Organization recently labeled glyphosate as a "probable carcinogen to humans".
In a review of its connection to modern disease, it is noted that chronic low-dose oral exposure to glyphosate causes a disruption of the balance of gut microbes to favor an increased number of pathogens. This leads to a state of chronic inflammation in the gut, as well as an impaired gut barrier, leading to an increased risk of cancer as well as many inflammatory conditions.1 Babies and children appear to be more at risk of experiencing adverse effects from exposure. An extensive review on the effects of glyphosate specifically on the nervous system notes exposure to glyphosate during the early stages of life can severely affect normal cell development.2
Not only does the use of glyphosate affect the crops themselves, but is also harming the soil the crops are grown in. In a review article discussing the affects of glyphosate use on the soil, it is noted that glyphosate residues can substantially interfere with plant resistance and the attraction of beneficial insects, both of which are essential elements in maintaining healthy soil ecosystems.3 This, in turn, has an effect on the nutrient quality of the food itself. According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, it’s important to understand that mineral content of a food is, to a significant degree, dependent on the various soil-based microorganisms. When the soil is treated with glyphosate, as is so often the case with genetically modified crops, it causes sterilization and deprives the plant of its mineral absorption ability.4
Our meals are made from whole foods, none of which have been genetically modified or engineered. We source only Non-GMO ingredients because of the negative effects genetic modification has on the soil, the nutrient content of the food itself and on human health.
Sadie Gildone, RD
Swanson, N.L., Leu, A., Abrahamson, J. & Wallet, B.Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and thedeterioration of health in the United States of America. J.Organic Systems 9 (2 014 ) 6– 37.
Costas-Ferreira C, Durán R, Faro LRF. Toxic Effects of Glyphosate on the Nervous System: A Systematic Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Apr 21;23(9):4605. doi: 10.3390/ijms23094605. PMID: 35562999; PMCID: PMC9101768.
Fuchs B, Saikkonen K, Helander M. Glyphosate-Modulated Biosynthesis Driving Plant Defense and Species Interactions. Trends Plant Sci. 2021 Apr;26(4):312-323. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2020.11.004. Epub 2020 Dec 2. PMID: 33277187.
"GMO vs. Non GMO: 5 Questions Answered." Healthline. Red Ventures. August 1, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/head-to-head-gmo-debate#1