You’ve probably been hearing about GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. What is the big deal with GMOs, and can they really be that harmful to you since they are in our food supply?
If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and are working to manage your immune and thyroid health, GMOs can have a significant impact. Therefore, a GMO-free diet should be incorporated in the support of autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
A GMO food has had its DNA altered through the insertion of genes from another species of plant, animal, bacteria, or virus.
Examples of genetic modification include splicing fish genes into tomatoes and strawberries, jellyfish genes inserted into corn, or tobacco engineered with lettuce. Some genetic modification is done to create new medications or industrial products, but in agriculture it is used to increase resistance to herbicides, pests, or extreme weather changes.
Why GMOs are dangerous if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
Common GMO crops include soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, and sugar beets. Genetic modification creates new proteins the human body has never encountered. These new proteins are not food that our body’s immune system recognizes. Our immune defenses attack, destroy, and remove these perceived pathogens. This in turn, creates inflammation that can lead to a long list of health issues.
For instance, an increase in allergies has been shown in populations after GMO foods are introduced, as well as in farm workers who handle the GMO foods.
For people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, this can create extra problems. Because Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder, its treatment approach is to balance the immune system and dampen the autoimmune flare-ups. If GMOs trigger an inflammatory response, then it increases the work of the immune system and thyroid function regulation in people with Hashimoto’s.
GMOs are legal in the United States because of the dearth of studies on humans. The only research on humans shows that GMOs transfer into the bacteria that reside in the gut, which should be cause enough for concern.
This means that long after you have eaten a GMO food its foreign proteins could stay behind in your gut, with unknown outcomes. For instance, if a food is modified with an antibiotic, it could create an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria in your body. Or a food modified with a toxin designed to kill insects could turn your gut bacteria into a pesticide. These new proteins could also make it into other parts of the body, including potentially a developing fetus.
The studies on animals are alarming enough that many nations require GMO foods to be labeled, or have restricted or banned GMOs. The FDA’s own scientists have warned of allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems and urged long-term studies. In some studies GMOs have been linked to:
- Infertility, lower birth weight
- Immune problems
- Accelerated aging
- Insulin dysregulation
- Damage or changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system
The very real threats of GMOs only give us more reason to avoid processed foods. If you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, you may need to be extra cautious so as not to provoke inflammation.