Monthly Archives: February 2016

Saved by your doctor, killed by your friends

Serious doctor
Norovirus is a never-ending battle against people who don’t care

Saved, whew! That was close.

First the heart attack, then the operation. Everyone was worried you would make it.

Touch and go now though. Even though you’re out of ICU.

Carelessness costs lives

Friends, see. Well-meaning but deadly.

Hey, hiya, how are you? Kiss, kiss, looking good.

Yeah, right.

Two of them, straight in off the street, on their way tea at the Ritz.

Alright for some. They can get away without washing their hands, they’re not stuck in bed rigged up with wires and tubes. Healthy, up and going, chances are good they’ll throw off any bug. Not like you – cannula, sutures, open body apertures and vulnerable.

Out of sight, out of mind

They could have used the antiseptic gel at reception, but breezed straight in. Or the gel at the entrance to the ward, but this is a quick visit. Or the gel in the squidge-bottle at the end of your bed.

All a bit of a rush, though. Kids to school, morning coffee, the supermarket schlep, usual stint at the charity shop, then straight here. Can’t bring flowers, they don’t allow it – pollen hazard to other patients. Choccies are good though – and this is a big box.

Kiss, kiss, hold hands.

Ooh, not so much of that. Hands LOOK clean, but they’ve been on the steering wheel – and remember that panic session with Julia’s little one yesterday? Emergency nappy change, right there on the driver’s seat. Poo everywhere.

Yeah, yeah, nice to see you. Nice when you’re gone too, too waggy dog for a convalescent.

And the damage is done, isn’t it?

Norovirus at the worst possible time. From hands that look clean but aren’t. They never are, straight in off the street. Which is why all the gel bottles.

Highly contagious, invisible transfer

Six hours later it’s you that gets the price tag. Violent upchucks that rip your sutures apart. A run to the loo because the night nurse isn’t quick enough with a bedpan. Drip-stand, wires and everything trailing behind you. Crash to the floor, you can’t move your arm and it feels like a fractured cheek.

And of course, the norovirus signature – poo everywhere.

A bad one this, the duty doctor’s called the crash cart. You’re going into arrest from all the convulsions and they can’t take chances. Code Blue, shut the ward, de-fib on the floor in a pool of poo. Double-plus super not hygienic.

CLEAR!

1,000 volts, right through you. Back splatter from electrified poo – going to be a few medics with the runs and upchucks too.

Not working, you’re gone. No heavenly lights or anything, just black.

CLEAR!

No breathing in the black, no anything, just a ringing sound.

CLEAR!

Oh, that smell! You’re back and everything hurts, your worst experience ever. And heaving too. That’s not 1,000 volts, that’s you.

The end of the world – almost. All from beautifully manicured hands that LOOK super-clean.

Nano-dirt

Except you can’t see germs – ever. That invisible super-thin layer that gathers on all of us every second of the day. No trace of dirt, not even of micro-dirt. This is NANO-DIRT, so fine you need a microscope to see anything – and even then you could miss it.

Yeah, norovirus. Always around, highly contagious, just waiting for an unguarded moment. Transferred from things you touch – everyday stuff, supermarket trollies, door handles, your phone. And all it takes is 10 tiny particles – less than half the next most potent bug, flu-virus.

From your hands to the biscuit with your coffee – or the soft part next to your eye because you rub it when it waters. So easy, so quick.

And totally preventable with soap and water or antiseptic gel.

Yeah, norovirus – with complications, you could die. And people do, around 80 a year in the UK. But it’s not hospitals that give it to you – you watched them closely, lying there – these places are rub and scrub, 24/7.

No, no, not hospitals – the real cause is careless friends and family. People who would be horrified if it ever occurred to them. But it never does when hands LOOK clean, does it?

Wash, wash, wash

Soap and water before and after doing anything – or pay the price. Otherwise, sooner or later, it’s gonna get you. Before food and after loo, always – or else.

And not just you, but everything around you too. Norovirus transfers from things you touch – from thing other people have touched. Floats around even on the air itself – sure it does, it’s smaller than dust, smaller than smoke, smaller than perfume particles, why ever not?

Which is why norovirus is so impossible to get rid of. It’s a survivor. And in densely-packed places like schools, offices, restaurants, hospitals – and of course, cruise ships – it collects victims like wildfire.

And yeah, sure enough, right now there’s another cruise holiday ruined for thousands – Anthem of the Seas, turned back for the second time in weeks – the first time by a full-blown live hurricane, the second by a grinding hurricane in passengers’ tummies.

Good luck with fixing that – norovirus spreads everywhere. That’s why it’s so violent – to spread its awful discharge of puke and poo as far and wide as possible. Unless a clean-up reaches into every crack and crevice, it’ll be back, again and again – repeat performances are its party trick.

An end to it all

Which makes you glad there’s a Hypersteriliser. The fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide it puts out is electrostatically charged. Super-fine oxidising molecules of H2O2 jostle to get away from each other, almost lighter than air, pushing against walls ceilings and all surfaces, penetrating deep into every nook and cranny.

Forty minutes, an hour – and the whole place is sterilised. Germ free and secure for you, back from the dead for a second time. Saved yet again, to live another day.

As long as your friends wash their hands.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

Hush! GM foods are back: to genetically modify you

Grabbing doctor
They’re gonna get you – GM foods – in fact they already have

Brace yourself. Genetically modified foods are back in town.

All over the headlines nearly 20 years ago. A big public outcry to get them off the market.

Genetically modified, see. To be immune to pesticides. So when crops are sprayed to get rid of weeds, the important plants aren’t affected.

Downside risk

Yeah, great. But how about the super-weeds that become pesticide resistant? Running riot, ready to take over the planet. And what about the dependant ecology – birds, insects, other plants – the whole biological balance?

And what do they do to us humans?

We showed them back then. 1999, it was. Together with the Daily Mail – guns blazing, run that stuff out of town. And we did, all consumers together. Told our supermarkets “No Deal” – we didn’t want any of that Frankenstein stuff.

Well guess what?

Just checking out this year’s National Farmers’ Union conference, they’ve showed up again. Digging by the Mail has exposed GM foods are back. In up to 80% of maize and soya fed to livestock that become the meat that we eat. Sneaked into our supermarket fridges by big money corporations with no questions asked. We pays the money, the retail chains keep schtum.

Yeah, bad news, the pits.

GM and worse

But squeaky clean alongside the ANTIBIOTICS you’ll find in the same food. Especially since those mega-buck conglomerates have no idea they’re there anyway.

Yeah, GM crops – we can probably live with them.

But genetically modified human beings – meaning YOU and everyone else on this planet – that’s seriously screwing with us. Because that’s exactly what antibiotics do long-term – screw up our genes, shake up our body balance.

Ever wondered why we’re all getting fat? Or why we’re getting sick more than we used to?

Thanks for nothing – from antibiotics. In the food that we eat – straight from the supermarket.

You see, they’re actually ADDED to livestock foods, like the maize and soya already GM cultivated – deliberately fed to animals to make them grow bigger, stronger and faster.

And animals have been fed that stuff for decades – generation after generation of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and even fish – fattened up for market in high density factory farms. Places so crowded, and hygienically iffy, those same animals NEED antibiotics to stop them falling sick in droves.

All in the poo

OK, let’s get basic.

Every farm animal – cows, sheep, chickens – makes poo. Tons and tons of the stuff – a major source of nutrients for all plant life. In fact the average cow probably pumps 80 – 90% of the stuff that it eats back out again – super-enriched food to make fertile manure.

Laced through and through with residual antibiotics.

Right, so follow the chain. The poo enriches grass for grazing – to be re-eaten by those same animals. More of the same stuff to bulk them up – the farmer’s rubbing his hands, although probably has no idea it’s there.

Because they’re in the grass, antibiotics residues are in the animals’ silage too. They get them with every mouthful, even though the farmer will withdraw antibiotics in their feed – for an elimination period required by law – before sending them off to market.

Plus of course, the poo gets collected for manure – which spreads antibiotic residues everywhere it’s used – including the GM farmed crops of maize and soya to be used as additional feed. So even though the animals are not receiving direct doses, they’re still mainlining with every mouthful.

It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere

The same manure of course, gets used everywhere else too – for fruit, grain and vegetable crops, everything. There are no laws or restrictions on its use, so it may even wind up being used to encourage growth of ORGANIC crops too. Organic crops thought to be pure, but containing antibiotic residues.

Oh yeah, and while we remember, antibiotics are widely used to boost plant growth too – sprayed on, mulched into the soil, or sometimes injected – and there’s no legal restriction on how that happens. They’re also used like pesticides – to control white spot, blight and leaf rot. More residues.

Since they’re in the soil, the residues leach down into the ground too, to be borne away by rainwater and runoff into the river systems. Which means there are antibiotic traces in our drinking water too – everything we eat or drink, right across the food spectrum.

Double-edged miracles

Now here’s the thing. We think of antibiotics as medicines, right? Miracle drugs that prevent and cure infection, protecting us from illness and disease. They do this by killing pathogenic bacteria, prescribed according to whatever the need is, to target treatment more effectively.

Not so bad if applied locally, to the skin or directly to a sutured area. But a real full-on drama if taken internally. Because as doctors are now starting to realise, our bodies are actually 90% bacteria and only 10% human – a mutual and harmonious partnership that makes us the amazing creatures that we are.

Down in our gut, where everything we eat eventually winds up, there are hundreds of trillions of bacteria – our microbiota – a diverse and carefully balanced community handling all kinds of functions, including digestion, protein production and regulating our immune system.

Pitch any kind of bacteria-killing antibiotic in there and it’s mayhem. Medicinal antibiotics might home in on specific pathogens, but a lot of other bacteria types inevitably get in the way. Residual antibiotics attack pretty well anything.

Wholesale murder

Bang, the end of carefully balanced harmony, the whole community goes out of kilter. Some whole species get wiped out, others are severely devastated. Not good for their basic defence system, which is to crowd invaders out by sheer numbers, impossible if half of them are missing.

Er, damaged gut bacteria. With damaged DNA. Unable to do what they’re supposed to do. Genetically modified gastrointestinal malfunction. Oh, sorry!

All kinds of things happen as a result, none of them positive. Yes, we might get rid of whatever bug we got our prescription for, but everything else is a downer. Plus there’s no coming back. Some bacteria resuscitate if their numbers are big enough. But the minor groups are gone for good – the system never comes back to 100%. Being genetically modified is a one-way street.

First to go is usually appetite control – and how many nutrients should be extracted from food. At worst, there are no limits, the body eats gluttonously, side-stepping the brain and indulging itself simply because it can.

More likely we wonder why the hell we start ballooning up, we’re not eating any more and we don’t normally guts ourselves anyway. Yeah, but the body absorbs more as it passes through – with our bacteria on the fritz, it squeezes out food value that much tighter. Check your poo – eating the same but passing less? It’s on your tummy and your thighs and your bum.

Uh huh. Exactly the mechanism that makes farm animals bulk up – only now it’s happening to us. Just one of the happy surprises that genetically modified means. Without controls, we pull out more food value than we should – and pile on the pounds big time.

Uber obese

Fat, fatter, obese – but it’s not all lifestyle. Devastating consequences though – type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma – and a lengthening list of other ailments, most of them slow, debilitating and ultimately fatal. Unless we realise what’s happening, we can eat ourselves to death.

And we’re already on the way. Check out Parliament’s own Obesity Statistics.  24% of adults in England are obese and a further 36% are overweight. Double the way we were in 1994 – when GM foods first pushed their way into our supermarkets – and farmers started ramping up antibiotics in animal feed, now at 324,000 tonnes per year worldwide and counting.

Want more proof we’re already genetically modified?

Well, since when did we develop all these sudden allergies, sensitivities and intolerances?

Some of them are because we grow up too clean these days – too little time as toddlers, eating dirt. Our immune systems are a combination of our inheritance from our mothers and what our bodies learn in our formative years, teaching our gut bacteria how to defend us.

Hmm, not so rosy any more. For a start, Mum’s own immune system is genetically modified from a lifetime of residual antibiotic damage – and probably under-powered from her own birth because HER Mum was genetically modified too.

Phantom ailments

On top of that, the world we live in has fewer challenges to even a generation ago. Major league killers like cholera and typhoid don’t exist any more – which means our immune reflexes sit twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do.

OK, so they invent something. And our high-powered defences over-react, chasing phantoms. We get a reaction, even plunge into life-threatening anaphylactic shock – coming down with asthma, eczema, hay fever, urticaria, coeliac disease, dermatitis, lactose intolerance, nut allergies and a million more – a three-fold increase on where we were back in the 70s.

Avoid antibiotics

Time to strike back. Pressure our supermarkets into rejecting GM foods – and antibiotics too. Go organic if we can. Avoid antibiotics like the plague – because they might save lives in the short term, but in the long run they’re killers.

Which also means stay away from germs wherever possible so that our weakened systems stand a better chance of survival. Only one way round that – wash your hands like your life depends on it (which it does) – and sterilise the area around you whenever you can with a Hypersteriliser. If there are no germs, you can’t get hit.

Yeah, genetically modified foods – at least they’re well intended, despite the side effects. Not like antibiotics – they’re about as helpful as being genetically modified with a baseball bat.

Picture Copyright: velkol / 123RF Stock Photo

GM foods? It’s antibiotics that really harm your gut

Cynical cook
How do you like it that there’s gut-ripping, balance-upsetting, body-fattening antibiotics in every mouthful you take?

GM foods don’t look like Frankenfoods.

In fact they look pretty normal. Switch to organic to avoid them yes, but why?

Yeah, we’re worried about them, but that hasn’t stopped us fiddling around with breeding things. Have done for pretty well always.

Messing with genetics

Rose-growers regularly do it to breed a champion variety. And look what we’ve done with dogs. No, that cute Jack Russell hasn’t evolved from wolves directly, it was bred that way. So was the Maltese poodle – and the Chinese crested dog.

Let’s be honest, humans have been meddling with how things grow for millions of years. So why all the hoo-hah about genetically modified foods when the meat and vegetables we’re already eating are dramatically different to how they were even 100 years ago?

And really, what’s wrong with wheat or maize that can withstand weeds, doesn’t rot when it rains, doesn’t get attacked by insects, and grows stronger and richer because of how it was propagated?

Ah, because now it’s additives and chemicals – and we worried about what they do. Tampering with DNA, our children are going to grow up zombies. And what about harmful antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in the same foods?

We swallow them, no telling what diseases we could end up with. We’re all going to die – ARGH!

Well, yes – except why haven’t we done it already? Pegged off and gone to the Happy Eating Place in the sky? No health hazards in paradise.

Which is really the issue, isn’t it? The possible health hazards.

Unseen, unrecognised risks

Believe us, they’re there alright, and way more dangerous than anything to do with GM. They attack our gut and whole body system, inflicting damage to affect us for years. Yes, they could kill us – and yet nobody really recognises they’re there – not the Food Standards Agency, not the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the British Medical Association, nobody.

Unregulated, uncontrolled, unmonitored, but present in nearly everything we eat – we’re talking about antibiotics.

Antibiotics doing damage? Better believe it. For a start they work by killing bacteria. Not so bad when they’re used against infections on the skin. But sheer havoc when they work internally in our gut.

As medics are now starting to take note, hundreds of trillions of bacteria live naturally down there. A harmonious partnership in which they do the heavy lifting of digestion, protein production and immune system control – while we look cool and do important stuff, like choosing which TV programme to watch next.

Enter, the killers

Drop in continuing mouthfuls of killer antibiotics and it’s like a series of mortar bombs going off – destroying whole families of vital bacteria with every hit – shrinking our gut diversity, massacring our valuable microbiota wholesale, leaving us less able to withstand attacks from other bacteria outside – often invincible because they’ve become antibiotic resistant.

Not what you thought antibiotics did?

OK, so the Doc prescribes them for whatever sickness you have and they go to work quickly to kill the bad guys – blow up their whole house and everybody in it. Along with the innocent folk next door on both sides and several places down the block, all the passers-by, and the several coach-loads of others in the street because it’s mealtime and there’s digesting work to be done.

Except we’re not talking about one-off medical doses here. We’re on about the constant onslaught of small amounts, the never-ending attrition of bacteria-killing antibiotics in everything we eat.

And we mean everything.

Our daily super-fatteners

For decades now, farmers have been adding antibiotics to livestock feed because it speeds up their growth – bigger, better in half the time.

And that’s on top of the GM-accelerated content in exactly the same feed  – which itself also has antibiotics in it from the 80 – 90% drug-laden residues pooed out as manure.

Still don’t believe it?

Here’s a study about antibiotics in maize and other crops used as animal feed, like soya. It demonstrates “that the antibiotic chloramphenicol occurs naturally in straw and maize. This antibiotic is prohibited in the EU for use in food-producing animals.”

Want more? This stuff is not just laced through from manure, here’s the FAO background on why maize among other crops is deliberately treated with oxytetracycline and streptomycin – control against white spot.

If you still want proof, look at your own waistline. Bigger is it, since 5 years ago? Heading steadily upwards to Size 16?

Don’t be surprised, with every mouthful we’re ingesting mini-doses of the same stuff that farmers use to make their animals bigger. We’re getting fatter because a regular diet of antibiotics is driving us to it – so that two-thirds of us are now overweight according to Public Health England.

Of course we are, we’re pigging out all the time on agriculture’s No 1 growth booster!

Not good for any of us

Which means we’re at risk from all the disorders that getting fat brings – type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma, take your pick.

Take a look at your own kids too. Like the rest us, they’re probably chubbier as well. And how about your daughter? Don’t you think it’s strange that she’s developing so early – a woman at 10 years old and already into puberty?

So, GM foods – are they really that bad?

Not alongside antibiotics, they’re not. And they’re not the reason for switching to organic, either.

Antibiotics are. And the sooner we switch, the better. To something all natural, we hope – no additives or whatever, grown with “uncontaminated” fertiliser.

Because like it or not, our food is killing us.

Picture Copyright: zurijeta / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s not your fault you’re fat, antibiotics are to blame

Fedup with workout
OK, so we’re all bulgier than we should be – don’t knock yourself out, it’s beyond your control

Right, not food you eat – the antibiotics you swallow.

Even though you might not taking them right now.

Because actually, you are – you just don’t know it.

We all are – every day.

Junkies, and we don’t know it

Because they’re in the food we eat. Put there to bulk up the meat we choose and the veg we prefer. In our bread, butter, milk and water too. Eggs too, of course.

Strictly speaking, we guess that does mean you’re getting fat from the food you eat. But not from the nutrition it gives – from the messing around it does to your digestive system, so you extract MORE food value than you’re meant too – over-riding your control of when to stop.

Truth is, that’s why antibiotics are a major part of food production – and have been for decades. They make ANIMALS bigger, better, faster – added to the food they eat. Now it’s happening to us, with the same result. They eat spiked feedstuff, we eat them, we get antibiotics too. Little bit by little bit, every single day.

Licence to print money

Which means – as you can imagine – on the farm, antibiotics are a goldmine. Without them, farmers would have to have acres of otherwise useless grazing space, animals spread out across fields and fields, growing up slowly in the fresh air and sunshine.

All very nice, but not good for business. Even charging double because it’s “organic”.

No, no, no – much better to herd all the animals indoors, out of the weather, closer together so they’re easier to breed and feed. A bit messy with so many of them all jammed in close together, not exactly healthy, pretty stressful too.

But never mind, antibiotics compensate for the high density conditions. None of them get sick because they’re on medicine already. And the amazing side effect is they get bigger and bigger and bigger – an overnight miracle. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 1 year instead of four.

Yeah, so forget whatever your Doc might be using them for – antibiotics on the farm are the modern way of doing business, the failsafe that keeps factory farms going. Round the world they get used on an industrial scale – in China alone, 162,000 tonnes a year according to this report –  half the world’s intake.

Which means the actual figure is twice that – 324,000 tonnes.

Still think you’re not on antibiotics?

Yeah, well everybody’s got to eat. And with a world population of 7.5 billion, that means a dose of around 450 milligrams for every man, woman and child on the planet – four times the strength your Doc would probably put you on, if you had an ailment.

Lifesavers that kill

And have you any idea what antibiotics do to your innards?

Basically, they only do one thing – kill bacteria. Which is good if you have an infection or disease, they kill the bacteria that’s causing it, you get better.

Hold up there, that’s not the full story.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, right? That means pretty well ALL bacteria they come in contact with, unless it’s a type that’s built up a resistance.

And guess what? Down in your gut, there are hundreds of trillions of bacteria – all vital to enabling digestion, producing proteins, regulating your immune system, and a zillion other things. One antibiotics pill releasing in that lot and it’s mass murder – whole tribes wiped out, crucial clans damaged or impaired, the whole balance gone for a ball of chalk.

But your body needs those guys to be healthy and resilient – as many and diverse as possible to meet all the challenges to expect in your lifetime. Except they’re not healthy and resilient, are they? They’re busted and broken, whole squadrons missing – including the ones that control appetite, producing ghrelin to start eating and leptin to stop.

A busted flush

Yeah, to put it mildly, you’re stuffed out of sight – nutrition intake system jammed on full throttle. Unless you’re fully aware of what your body keeps asking, you find yourself eating with no idea why you’re so hungry.

Worse, your body grabs more out of the food as it passes through your system. Eating more and pooing less – all that stuff’s got to go somewhere, so that’s the start of your spare tyre. Next stop, bingo wings, thunder thighs, muffin top and all the trimmings. And you thought it was all you.

Of course not all of us are as fat as we might be. We all have different metabolisms, our colonies of gut bacteria vary as individually as fingerprints, and our immune systems all have different exposure to disease and illnesses as we grow up. And to antibiotics.

One thing’s for sure. The younger we get hit, the more chance we have of being obese. Not just the background drip, drip we all experience – but a full-on medical course a doctor might prescribe. Full throttle already, now we go to warp speed.

Fat from childhood

Get antibiotics before we’re two, and chances are high we’ll be overweight by five. And if you’re like most of us here in the UK, by the time you’re twenty, you’ll have been through TWENTY courses of antibiotics – every one of them grabbing at your gut and ripping things out. Chug three Cokes at a session and you don’t even know you’re doing it.

Plus you’re more vulnerable too. Not surprising with half your immune control system shot to hell.

Which means if you want to live to a ripe old age, better take care of yourself more than you might have been. Despite the antibiotics – or rather, because of them – infections are now easier to catch. More easily picked up from germs on your skin, from the air, or from objects around you.

Want proof? How many times have you come down with colds or flu – can’t shake them off? Or headaches, norovirus or other tummy bugs – over and over again? Like this never happened to your Mum and Dad.

Personal protection

OK, so wash your hands every chance you get. Wash the dirt off – and the germs – invisible nano-dirt you can’t see, but just waiting to climb inside you and make you ill.

Sterilise the space around you as well. A good mist up with a Hypersteriliser will keep your workplace free from all viruses and bacteria for a good twenty-four hours or more. It won’t kill infections if you’ve already got them – but it will stop new ones happening.

Of course, getting that weight off is a pain. Your mind has to over-rule your gut feel – and there are no short cuts.

But now at least you know what you’re up against. You’re not fighting you, you’re fighting antibiotics.

It wasn’t your fault you got fat in the first place – but it’s going to be all-you that makes you thinner.

Picture Copyright: sframe / 123RF Stock Photo

Sugar tax? Shouldn’t we ban TV’s Bake Off first?

Doughnut girl
No wonder we’ve got cravings – every food programme on TV has enough sugar to sink a battleship

Vile stuff, sugar. Jamie Oliver says so, so it must be true.

Makes us fat, rots our teeth, turns us into porkers with our fingers and toes chopped off.

So of course we should tax sugar, stomp it out.

Criminal addiction

Like tobacco and smoking. Tax it out of sight, hide it from the public eye.

Ban sugar on TV too – all programmes, all advertising, everything there is. In movies and magazines too. Hide sugar products away in the supermarket and double their prices.

Ban sugar on TV? Sure, all those cooking programmes – cakes and puddings and things. To a nation of obese and recognised sugar addicts – a very bad influence. Bad, bad, bad.

Chop the lot

Which means, in popularity order, that we should axe The Great British Bake Off, Nigella Lawson, Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen, Heston Blumenthal, Great British Menu, Nigel Slater, Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver and Come Dine With Me.

Oh, and anything to do with jam-making – the vilest of the vile. A wicked past-time that even our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dame Sally Davies, has fallen prey to – her “energy-making” therapy.

Just why is it so bad? Loaded with sugar through and through – according to the BBC’s online Good Food site – “… to qualify as proper jam, the finished product should contain 60% sugar.”

Good Food! 60% sugar!

60% sugar – when a 1.75 litre bottle of regular Coke contains ONLY 16%!

Jam should carry a health warning. Shocking! Scandalous! Write to your MP immediately.

Non-tax nonsense

Because you can buy TWO 1.75 litre Cokes in the supermarket for £2. Or FOUR of the supermarket’s own brand for the same price.  But you can buy own brand strawberry jam for just 29p – nearly 40 times the sugar hit, for less than 15% of the price.

So what kind of a tax is going to stop anyone? 500%? 1,000%?

Get real.

The mark-up on a medium-sized Coke at your local Odeon bughouse is more than that already

Just who is kidding who, here?

And that’s not even thinking about the level of sugar in ordinary foods, prepared meals and the like.

All sugar and sweetness

Meanwhile Bake Off goes on and on. Sugar in your face, programme after programme. Like Nadiya Hussain’s winning birthday cake recipe? 175 grams of caster sugar – 35 teaspoons. PLUS 500 grams of icing sugar – 100 teaspoons. 135 teaspoons altogether.

Yes, congratulations to Nadiya, but what about us poor addicts?

Sure, sure, it’s bad and something should be done – but is ANYONE addressing why so many of us have a sweet tooth? That our sugar cravings are so severe? And is ANYONE doing anything to stop these cravings – instead of flying off to Bermuda on the sugar taxes we have to pay?

A joke, right? As John Belushi demonstrated in his TV doughnut sketch. Reality upside down.

Uncontrolled cravings

Because the truth is, we have little or no control over the foods we crave, our body does that without us ever even thinking about it. A hormone called ghrelin does the trick, pumped out by the resident bacteria we all have in our gut to take care of digestion.

OK, so the ghrelin says gimme, gimme, gimme, sugar, sugar, sugar.

Why?

In a healthy body, that isn’t supposed to happen. We eat, we have enough, our gut bacteria tell us to switch off. Finished eating, we’re satisfied.

Uh huh. So something’s wrong. And something’s wrong with a lot of us, because more and more of us are getting fat. Our gut bacteria are making mistakes – not turning off when they’re supposed to – and extracting TOO MUCH nutrition from the food we eat as well.

Uh huh, part two. And what could possibly skew our gut bacteria so wildly out of kilter that the whole system tilts out of balance, like some madman running amok?

Wonder drugs, ultra thugs

Simple, simple. What kills bacteria? No less than the miracle wonder-drugs of our time – antibiotics.

OK, so we take them for some infection or because we’re having an operation. Down in your gut, the harmful bacteria get killed alright – so do a lot of innocent bystanders, the beneficial bacteria that keep our bodies in good order.

And they’re not just in medicines.

There’s antibiotics in most of the food we eat too. Growth boosters given to livestock to make them bulk up bigger and faster. Given to plant crops too, for the same reason.

And the same thing happens to animals as happens to us. Their gut bacteria are out of balance from the antibiotics in their feed, their ghrelin equivalent doesn’t stop producing. So they eat themselves stupid – noshing all the time from habit, as there’s not much food value to be had out of grazing grass.

But they’re not grazing grass any more – not most of the time. They’re mainlining on boosted feedstuff that puts their gut bacteria on turbo, their bodies are full of it.

They eat that, we eat them, we get fat too – it’s not rocket science.

But for some reason, all our celebrity chefs and nutritionists are running round like chickens with their heads chopped off, shouting that we should tax sugar.

Yeah, we should get serious about cutting down sugar intake.

But we should also get serious about how we do it. Taxing the supply does nothing except push the price up.

So? It’s more expensive. But everything always goes up – money is not affected by gravity.

Better to reduce demand. Get our bodies to ask for less, problem solved.

Get off the pills

Which means GET OFF ANTIBIOTICS.

Unless it’s life-threatening, avoid them like the plague. Because that’s what they are in the long-term – fat becomes obese, becomes type two diabetes or heart disease or cancer – a nasty slow-motion car crash over the next twenty years. The Black Death killed in days, antibiotic damage kills in decades, none of them pleasant.

And just what the hell happened to proper TV programming in prime time anyway?

Cookery? Soaps? Dancing?

Back in the day, that was mid-afternoon gap-filler, padding to get through the nothing. Balanced evening viewing was Western, private eye, Western – the way life is supposed to be.

Which means we’re already paying a sugar tax, like it or not. All those sweet, syrupy programmes – not worth the licence fee.

Time to get out more and do some exercise. TV is not good for your waistline either.

Picture Copyright: jayfish / 123RF Stock Photo

Now it’s inevitable: total global antibiotics failure

Worried farm vet
When antibiotics stop working for animals, we’re all at risk

Inevitable as in OMG, failure as in serious.

Imagine World War Three, a Force 5 hurricane and an end-of-the-dinosaurs meteor strike all at the same time.

All caused by the weapons we use against microscopic adversaries we can’t even see – the antibiotics we use to fight pathogenic bacteria.

Busted miracles

Amazing creations, antibiotics. Enabling modern medicine work miracles every day.

Except their edge is blunting fast – as canny bacteria mutate to develop resistance to our wonder-drugs – increasingly immune to everything we throw at them.

Antimicrobial resistance or AMR, it’s called. Bacteria impervious to even heavy doses of medication – just another bump in the road to the most successful single-celled living creature of all time – the latest hiccup in 5 billion years of evolution.

Of course, AMR was always going to happen. Bacteria are ultimate survivors – able thrive at temperatures from a freezing 0⁰C to a volcanic 350⁰C – in acidity from near pure water to concentrated battery acid – and if necessary, even without oxygen.

So that messing about in a laboratory for anything except a short-term solution is futile. Alexander Fleming, father of modern antibiotics even said as much in his 1945 lecture accepting the Nobel Prize.

His concern was that the bugs could gain immunity from under-dosing – killing the weakest but allowing the strongest to escape from non-lethal quantities. And with an organism able to divide by fission into new cells in as little as 20 minutes, it was only a matter of time before bacteria found ways.

Tick, tick, tick

They certainly did. Against penicillin, discovered in 1928 with resistant staph emerging in in 1940; tetracycline, introduced in 1950 with resistant shigella in 1959; erythromycin, launched in 1953 with resistant strep occurring in 1968; methicillin in 1960 with resistance in 1962; levofloxacin in 1996 with resistance in the same year; linezolid in 2000 and resistance 2001; daptomycin in 2003 and resistance in 2004.

Today it’s even worse, with some superbugs becoming pan-resistant – responsive to NO antibiotics at all. Small wonder that Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, sees AMR as a threat on the same scale as terrorism.

Except that Dame Sally is wrong on the focus, medical AMR is just the tip of the iceberg. Agriculturally, AMR is many, many times bigger – so that, short of a massive alien invasion, antibiotics resistance is quite possibly the biggest challenge ever to the human race.

Check the math.

All in the numbers

In 1950, world population was 2,557,628,654 –the biggest killers were pneumonia and TB, and ploughs on the farm were still drawn by horses.

In 2016, world population is 7,334,771,614, most diseases are completely under control and “factory farms” are highly mechanised.

300% increase in mouths to feed, but the land area to produce the necessary food is still the same. Mechanisation? Sure. GM crops? Let’s face it, farmers have been fiddling with plant breeding for yonks. But three times as much food to eat from the same space, how is that possible?

Right first time, antibiotics.

First used as a growth promoter in 1950 – and today fattening up livestock so much that round the world, 65,000 tons of agricultural antibiotics are swallowed by cows, pigs, chickens and sheep every year.

Yeah, well that’s the OTHER thing antibiotics do – they bulk up animal bodies – twice the size in half the time, on half the feed. From fresh-laid egg to a 1.5 kg supermarket chicken in six weeks – from new-born calf to a full-size Aberdeen Angus steer in one year instead of four.

Feeding the billions

Which is how come farmers can produce food enough for 7.3 billion hungry people from the same land once struggling to feed 2.5 billion.

Put in perspective, and looking at USA beef cattle production only, 1950s technology would require an additional 165 million acres to produce the same amount of beef, an area about the size of Texas – 20% of mainland America.

Or as the Yanks like to boast, 25% of the world’s beef from 10% of the world’s cattle.

It’s antibiotics make this possible – that compensate for the intensive battery-style living, the highly stressful over-crowding, the low level of hygiene from animals living on top of each other, the otherwise unavoidable breeding grounds for animal disease and infection.

Antibiotics in feedstuffs bulk animals up – and also keep them healthy in impossible conditions.

But animals are living metabolisms too – and just like us, the bacteria inside them develop resistance to the constant flow of antibiotics going through their bodies. Billions of times more likely than with humans – there are billions more of them.

Pan-resistance everywhere – antibiotics failure on a colossal scale.

Which means the day is coming when animals fall ill from the living environments they’re in – and with antibiotics no longer able to protect them, disease goes through their thousands and thousands like wildfire. Round the world, other food animals pick up the contagion, sicken and die.

Plants too, suffer the same antibiotics resistance, succumbing to the many types of blight and other disease that fruit, vegetable and grain crops are prone to.

Hunger and famine

Without food, 7.5 billion start feeling hungry.

Never mind AMR, it’s FAMINE that’s going to get us. With no way out, except for a lucky few – in a world surrounded by dying animals and vegetation.

Impossible, surely?

You mean inevitable. Antibiotics resistance is a fact. In medical circles, it is already an emergency. And AMR is already widely reported across agriculture. Total failure is already on the cards.

OK, so several billion of us aren’t going to make it.

Those that do will have to live in a world without antibiotics. So will the animals, out in the open where they belong, not cooped up in jail for us humans. And for every living thing there’ll be no more miracle drugs.

Just as 100 years ago, a simple scratch or mouthful of iffy food could be the last of us. So it’s back to Victorian-style carbolic and scrub, meticulous hand-washing hygiene before and after every activity as our first line of protection.

We will certainly need it. After seven decades of constant antibiotics ourselves – in our medicine and from the foods we eat – our immune systems are weaker than they ever were, less robust, less resilient – our internal gut bacteria ravaged by the same antibiotics supposed to be so beneficial.

Get out of jail free

Which means hygiene around us will be critical too. At home, in our workplaces, in all the enclosed spaces where we group together, vulnerable to each other’s germs and the normal germs on everything around us.

Fortunately, a Hypersteriliser can keep our surroundings sterile – making them safe with misted hydrogen peroxide that kills all viruses and bacteria by oxidation. Kinda like external antibiotics, but without the downside.

And yes, we will fight back. We won’t have antibiotics, but we will have phages – go-getter body VIRUSES that attack harmful bacteria – a therapy that has been used in the former Soviet Union for even longer than antibiotics. Not back to the future, but forward to the past.

We SHALL overcome.

Picture Copyright: goodluz / 123RF Stock Photo

Why we’re all trapped in a fat epidemic or worse

Face of misery
Fat, guilty, miserable, feeling like the end of the world – all thanks to antibiotics

There’s no escaping this one – not the fat, not the guilt, nor the accompanying illnesses.

And just because you’re not bulging yet, don’t think it can’t happen to you.

Because it will.

It’s gonna get you

Unless you stop eating completely – a one-way solution as the body eats itself.

So right, however we get our fatness, it all comes from food.

Which is why all the hoo-hah about diets and you-are-what-you-eat. Stick to this, give up that, do a ton of exercise with it. All very good and noble – and effective like moving deckchairs on the Titanic.

But you have to agree, the cause IS in the food we eat.

And it’s got to be in what ALL of us eat because ALL of us are showing signs – podgy round the edges, heavier in the jowl, visibly getting fat. Already two thirds of adults are overweight and getting fatter.  Give us time, and we’ll all be two-ton Tessies whatever we eat– and yes, that includes the carrot-stick and bottled water brigade – the ones who eat Punishment Foods to stay thin.

Inevitable until we nail the common denominator. The one that’s staring us in the face – and has been for years.

The 1950s villain

Antibiotics – the same stuff the Doc gives us when we’re sick.

Er, but not given to us, not even close. They’re added to feedstuff or injected into the animals we farm and vegetable crops we grow.

Way back in 1950, researchers first noticed that feeding streptomycin to day-old chicks made them grow faster and bigger. Amazing – double the size for half the effort.

Today, nearly seventy years later, antibiotics are used by the ton world-wide to bulk up livestock of all kinds and enhance plant growth.

And there’s our fattening source, right there. Super high-powered growth promoters laced through everything we eat. Proven to bulk up living organisms and accelerate growth. They work for animals and they’re working for us too. With every mouthful, a little more, a little fatter.

Oops.

They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere

Because what can you buy in the supermarket that does NOT contain antibiotics? Yeah, yeah, we’ve seen all the organic hype about no additives or preservatives, but who is monitoring antibiotic levels in our food – or even know they’re there?

And can’t we get rid of them? Take them out of our food before we eat it?

Well yes, but you’ve got to boil them out – let the food bubble furiously for at least thirty minutes. Then chuck away the broth – that’s where the antibiotics are – and rinse thoroughly.

Uh huh.

Zero food value – and tastes like boiled knitting.

Because in some form or other, all farmed food contains antibiotics – either directly through animal feed, or in residual levels, via antibiotics-laden manure (beef cattle excrete 80 to 90% of the nutrients they consume)  leached into the soil and from there into our river systems.

The only way out is switch to non-farmed food. Like deep sea fish and home grown vegetables – cultivated without fertiliser, of course.

Otherwise, better resign yourself to getting fat if you aren’t already. Or fatter, if you’re currently portly. Which of course triggers a whole string of obesity-related health risks – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma – long-term illnesses that take decades to claim you.

And that’s just for starters.

More ways to get ill

Time to remember the other thing that antibiotics do. Kill bacteria – the reason the Doc gives them to us in the first place – to clobber some infection or illness.

Yeah, they save lives – by killing.

And guess what? As doctors and researchers are encountering every day, our own bodies are 90% bacteria – as much part of us as our other vital organs – heart, lungs, brain.

So yeah, the antibiotic kills the bad bacteria that’s causing us illness. It also kills a slew of other vital bacteria alongside – a wide diversity that control digestion, regulate appetite, balance our metabolism, govern our immune systems.

Lose any of those and we lose what they do. Temporarily for some, because there are enough survivors to grow back. Permanently for others – minority groups that are wiped out. Every time the body is hit with antibiotics, it never comes back 100%.

Underpowered and out of balance, our body bacteria are less able to protect us from invaders trying to do us harm. We’re weaker, more at risk – an unfortunate disability we pass on to our kids. And to our kids’ kids.

Hell, this has been happening for nearly seventy years, we’re way more likely to get sick than ever before.

So what defence is there?

Lifesavers that kill

If we get seriously ill, antibiotics are the quick-fix that rescue us from disaster. Yet all the time they’re killing us – destroying our body bacteria – the microbiome that sustains us and provides our life force.

Better not to get sick in the first place. Avoid risks, grab whatever protection we can.

And STAY OFF ANTIBIOTICS.

Which means upping our hygiene – keeping ourselves clean so germs don’t get a shot at us. Washing hands, before and after everything we do. Something we all forget because most of the time they LOOK clean – we don’t see the microscopically small nano-dirt inevitably lurking.

Even that is not enough. Because the very next thing we touch is covered in germs too – they are on everything, in everything and riding the air too. Nano-dirt we can’t see – like the average office desk, inundated with 10 million disease-causing bacteria.

Touch your keyboard or your papers and your hands are dirty again – reloaded with germs waiting to have a go.

So we need to neutralise environmental germs too – sterilise the area around us to keep ourselves safe from their daily challenge – a regular hygiene habit like brushing teeth or using deodorant. Not the whole world of course, that’s impossible – besides most bacteria are actually beneficial, they’re only harmful in the wrong place.

Ah, but we CAN have a go at our workplace, protecting our colleagues as well as ourselves. Forty minutes with a Hypersteriliser mists up the entire space with hydrogen peroxide when everyone’s gone home – stretching up through the air, reaching into every crack and crevice, oxidising germs to nothing, keeping us safe.

Whew! Now all we have to do is get the weight off.

Picture Copyright: kolosigor / 123RF Stock Photo

Will your doctor give you cancer?

Doctor with capsule
Antibiotics might save lives quick – they can also trigger a long, slow death

Oh no, cancer! We’ve got to be kidding, right?

Doctors are there to save lives, not threaten them.

True. And more dedicated, committed professionals you could never find anywhere.

Except our own cleverness is catching up- with us.

Especially with antibiotics.

Deadly to bacteria, in more ways than one

We think of them as lifesavers – and yes, they are. Without antibiotics, most of modern medicine would be near impossible – particularly surgical procedures.

Heart bypasses and joint replacements might be routine, but without antibiotics to control infection they couldn’t even be attempted.

Medical miracles, it’s amazing what antibiotics have enabled us to do.

But the gleam is fading.

Fifty years after they were first discovered, they’re showing a major downside. Increasingly, bacteria are mutating to neutralise their effect – the germs that can kill us are becoming immune. Unstoppable.

Over-use and abuse

Totally our fault of course.

We have these magic silver bullets – so of course we use them everywhere. Doctors know they’re potent and need care, which is why all antibiotics are on prescription. But we’re so hyped up about these amazing cure-alls, we demand them for everything.

Which puts us on the cliff edge – about to plunge backwards, more than a hundred years. If antibiotics don’t work any more, what do we do then?

It’s a growing headache – which England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dame Sally Davies, puts on the same scale as the threat of terrorism. People are going to die because antibiotics don’t work any more – and doctors are powerless to prevent it.

But not quite yet.

Not all antibiotics are powerless against germs, even though some germs have evolved to be resistant to ALL antibiotics. If we can curb our massive over-use, we stand a fighting chance.

Which is why Dame Sally and the whole medical profession are constantly campaigning to limit antibiotic use.

A monumental uphill battle. Thanks to patient pressure, one in four of all prescriptions for antibiotics written in the UK is unnecessary. Minor ailments are sledge-hammer blitzed when ordinary paracetamol would be more than effective.

Or even a nice, restorative cup of tea – our grandparents knew a thing or two.

But medical over-use is only the tip of the iceberg.

Every year, over FOUR HUNDRED TONNES of antibiotics are shovelled into livestock up and down the country together with their regular feed.

Big profits drive this – the farmers’ rolling jackpot. Because the name of the game in agriculture is that antibiotics promote growth.

They bulk up animals and plants to twice the size in half the time – often even quicker. From egg to supermarket chicken in six weeks  – or more amazingly, calves for quality beef are market-ready between 3 and 16 weeks.

Fat Pills

Forget medical cures, the big plus with antibiotics is they MAKE THINGS GROW FAT.

So while we’ve been swallowing pills to make us better, farmers have been shoving them in to make animals bigger. On an industrial scale – think ship-building or trucks.

And they’ve been doing it for over fifty years – accelerating over the last twenty. Billions and billions of cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and fish. Billions and billions of tonnes of fruit, vegetables and grain crops. Our entire food spectrum at the supermarket.

Which means everything we’ve been eating for the last twenty years has included proven growth promoters – through antibiotics added DIRECTLY to animal feed, or RESIDUAL quantities acquired via manure and soil enrichment.

Hello obesity

So guess what? WE’RE GETTING FAT TOO. Two thirds of us are already overweight and lurching towards serious medical problems.

Down in our gut, where our personal bacteria thrive, digesting our food and maintaining our systems, antibiotics have disturbed the natural balance that controls our appetite – putting our pedal to the metal in ghrelin production, the hormone that tells us to eat, eat, eat.

Result?

Crucial bacteria are destroyed or damaged, encouraging the growth of enterobacteriaceae, the obesity pathogen. And we’re up to our necks in an obesity epidemic – which according to Dame Sally is ALSO as dangerous as terrorism.

Makes you fat, makes you ill

And that’s where the cancer comes in. From the ciprofloxacin given to you by your doctor.

It might have cured your chest infection – but could also be the spur that tips your gut bacteria over the edge, wiping out whole families of useful and friendly bacteria, allowing enterobacteriaceae to thrive.

You may not have started fat, but along with the other trace antibiotics you eat daily with every meal, it’s so easy to bulk up. Size, 16, size 18 – jump-starting your way to obesity.

And obesity triggers not only cancer, but heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma. Better watch your diet very carefully now – you can’t undo the damage or replace the missing bacteria, but you can avoid the slippery slope.

Illness avoidance

Priority One, avoid antibiotics as much as you can. Difficult when they’re in everything you eat, but you can REDUCE your intake. Organic vegetables as far as possible – they’re less likely to be grown from enriched manure – and deep ocean fish like cod and haddock, the ones they CAN’T farm.

Priority Two, avoid germs, so you don’t need antibiotics. Wash your hands whenever you think of it – certainly before food and after the loo. They might LOOK clean, but you can’t see viruses or bacteria – sometimes as small as 2 microns across, they’re difficult even with a microscope.

But they’re there, always – nano-dirt you can’t see, just waiting to enter your body – transferred from your fingers onto food – or into the soft tissue round your eyes and mouth.

They’re all around us too, on every surface and swirling around us in the air. Know how the sun shows up dust particles in a cross-beam? Germs are like that, only billions of times more – constant work for your immune system.

But you can reduce those too by making your rooms sterile, bringing viruses and bacteria around you down to zero. All it takes is a Hypersteriliser, a machine that mists up the air with ionised hydrogen peroxide, an eco-friendly germ killer that reaches everywhere and grabs germs on the fly, oxidising them to nothing.

Will your doctor give you cancer?

Not today, thank goodness. But don’t go asking for antibiotics unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Yeah, they’re lifesavers. But in ten or twenty years time, if they trigger obesity, they could also make you dead.

Picture Copyright: netfalls / 123RF Stock Photo

Hey, sugar-taxers! Obesity starts with antibiotics

The Fat Pill
Running to fat starts with antibiotics – sugar just keeps it going

So we need a sugar tax, huh?

To stop our kids getting obese.

Hell, to stop ourselves getting obese, because two thirds of us are.

Good idea, if sugar is the cause.

Uh huh, but before we go galloping off, here’s a few questions.

Because just maybe there’s a bigger threat out there than sugar. Active and alive – with a proven ability to bulk up bodies fast – to twice their weight and more in half the time.

Obesity perspective check

Are we naturally fat? No.

Are we meant to be fat? No.

Were we always fat? No.

Were we fat in the 1950’s? No.

Were we fat in the 1990’s? No.

Didn’t we have Snickers and Mars bars in the 1990s? Yes.

Didn’t we have Coke and Pepsi and Lucozade in the 1990s? Yes.

But we weren’t fat in the 1990s? No.

Sure? Yes.

And we’ve ballooned up since then? Yes.

But don’t all those things have sugar in them? Yes.

So why does sugar make us fat now, but not in the 1990s? Er…

Let’s just back up a bit

We’re not naturally fat, are we? And we don’t naturally puff out from sugar, even though a lot of us have a sweet tooth, do we? Sure, there’s exceptions – those unfortunate people whose bodies have a disorder that makes them fat. But most of us are quite normal – fat has never been an issue, until now.

So what’s changed? Is there some kind of super-sugar that is making us fat?

How come only in the last twenty years? And how come it’s snowballing?

Whatever it is must be a pretty powerful growth booster.

Damn right.

How do you like accelerating from an ordinary chicken’s egg to a 1.5 kg supermarket roasting chicken in six weeks? Or a calf maturing to a full-size Aberdeen Angus beef steer in one year instead of the usual four?

Easy-peasy too. Add virginiamycin to poultry feedstuff  and bambermycin to beef cattle’s.

Yup, you’ve got it – antibiotics both of them, the kind that farmers have used increasingly for the last twenty years. Triple whammy growth boosters de luxe.

There’s a whole slew of antibiotics that get used in agriculture – from boosting animal growth, to keeping up health levels in intensive factory farms, to enhancing plant growth and preventing blight. 65,000 tonnes of them every year – increasing to over 110,000 tonnes in the NEXT twenty years.

Which means there’s a whole slew of antibiotics in everything we eat – never mentioned or even thought of alongside additives, preservatives and all the other usual things we’re worried about. They’re even in organic foods too.

Because it’s not just stuff that gets fed DIRECTLY to livestock or plants. It’s RESIDUAL antibiotics spread across the whole spectrum of food types – via manure from accelerated cattle used to fertilise crops or enrich grazing lands.

It even finds its way into groundwater and river systems, so that pretty well everything we eat or drink has antibiotics in it – proven high performance growth boosters right across our entire food chain.

Slightly more significant than sugar at causing obesity. And way more serious.

All in the balance

Because a normal healthy body naturally maintains its correct sugar levels. Gut bacteria absorb what they need and excrete the rest – along with all the nutrients surplus to requirements. Only the right amount gets extracted, the rest becomes waste just like other animals.

Which is why manure is so fertile – and human manure is the most fertile of all. An icky thought for Western minds, but known and used by Chinese farmers for centuries.

Let the system get out of balance though and all kinds of disorders set in – obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease – life-threatening all of them.

Out of balance, out of control

And it’s antibiotics that upset the balance.

You see antibiotics work by doing one thing – killing bacteria. And the whole body balance is achieved by gut bacteria – over 100 trillion microbes that are maybe the most important part of us altogether – the active living life force that keeps us going.

OK, so the Doc prescribes an antibiotic for a condition you have – say amoxicillin for your sinusitis. You swallow the capsule, it goes down to your gut – with an effect like an exploding hydrogen bomb.

Sure it clobbers the streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae, and moraxella catarrhalis that are probably causing the problem. It targets several billion others besides – beneficial bacteria normally resident, that regulate all kinds of body functions. Yeah the infection’s dead – but injured and out of balance, things start to go wrong with the survivors.

Some tribes of bacteria are lost altogether, so you might lose an immunity or pick up an allergy. Others are damaged and behave erratically – possibly the reason why antibiotics are so successful at triggering weight gain. Bacteria that control appetite produce two types of hormone – ghrelin to stimulate and leptin to diminish.

Don't Eat Sign
The body’s appetite control –
leptin for STOP and ghrelin for GO, GO, GO!

When the ghrelin keeps producing, hunger does not switch off. Eat, eat, eat, cravings develop. More, more, more, a compulsive addiction. And it’s not just the eating. The body greedily grabs more nutrients from the food it gets, more than it should – out of balance, the system bulks up.

It also goes for the foods that accelerate the process – sugary fatteners, high-powered junk food – OK in moderation but supercharged in bulk. Deep fried Mars bars, here we come.

Worst of all, these days many of us get a jump start – antibiotics administered before we’re even two. Start early like that, for whooping cough or pneumonia, and guaranteed infants will be overweight by the time they reach five.

Uh huh, and the damage done by antibiotics cannot be reversed. If a particular class of bacteria is destroyed, it’s gone for good – no more protection, no more specialist ability. Others which are depleted may breed themselves back – but you will never be the same again.

And all the while – drip, drip, drip – the daily assault goes on. Every sip, every mouthful – making us weaker, less resilient, more prone to infections – fatter.

Make no error, sugar abuse is bad and we need to fix it. But the cause is worse and an illness in itself – an uncontrollable addiction.

If you tax heroin, would it stop junkies?

So what are we doing taxing sugar?

Come on guys, we got to stop taking antibiotics.

Yes, they’re lifesavers – but they’re killing us too.

Picture Copyright: dragon_fang / 123RF Stock Photo

Why a sugar tax will do zut to stop our obesity

Girl with Coke bottle
Sugar craving is an addiction – your body demanding attention because it’s out of balance

If anyone seriously WANTS a sugar tax, it should be fat people.

Because obesity sucks, right?

Nobody in their right mind wants to look like that – to feel ugly, less than fit, a target for ridicule, always depressed and increasingly unhealthy.

Nobody wants to be fat

Despite all that, it’s a battle for them to help themselves.

They WANT the sweet tastes, the fill-you-up feeling, the constant indulgences. Their bodies crave them – it’s a growing addiction.

Which means, well-meaning though it is, taxing them is not going to do much. It’s misplaced effort.

Hike the price ten or twenty times, they’ll still want their fix. Addiction is addiction – and the cost of feeding it means nothing, just like the most dangerous and self-destructive drugs.

Yes certainly, cutting down on sugar intake should lessen their misery. And making sugar less freely available can help new youngsters from getting fat. Jamie Oliver is right.

Sugar is not the problem

But it’s not going to stop them, or make the problem go away.

Because the reason why their bodies have these cravings has not been satisfied.

Find ourselves starving in a wasteland and we’ll eat anything – grass, roots, insects, even dirt. But day-to-day, we don’t face that challenge, we can most of us eat what we want.

What we actually choose, will depend how hungry we are. Ravenous, and we go for a quick charge – exactly why fast-foods are so successful – instant go and lots of it, at your fingertips in a hurry.

Not so hungry, we get picky – it’s got to be this, it’s got to be that – gourmet posh-nosh that can cost a bomb.

It’s the body though, that decides what it wants. The body playing mind-games on the brain.

The magic of taste, the allure of smell, the sexy come-hither on the plate – all the tricks of the trade of a clever chef. The brain stands no chance, it’s a foregone decision – it knows how to satisfy it’s own yum-factor.

All anticipation and expectation, right? Which is what all the taxing is about.

And all over as soon as we swallow – down the hatch, gone, finito.

Look deeper

Actually, no.

Down the hatch is where the real action starts. Down there in our gut, where digestion takes place – all taken care of by the bacteria that live there, over 100 trillion of them – the life force without which we’d die.

They might be just microbes, but these things are clever. Over 3.5 BILLION years, they’ve become experts at how to survive.

They’re not all the same either, but incredibly diverse. Thousands and thousands of different types, all balanced in a stable thriving community of specialist skills – processing nutrients, producing proteins and regulating our immune systems among many other vital functions.

It’s the balance that keeps us healthy and alive, that protects us from illnesses, that gives our bodies the athletic agility of the incredible miracle we all are. Properly balanced, we’re fit and able, positive and upbeat.

We eat right because the body tells us to – also in balance, everything in proportion. Gutsing out on sugar means that something is wrong – the balance is skewed. We don’t just get fat, we’re at risk of all kinds of illnesses too, on-going conditions that wear away our health.

Symptoms, not cause

So yeah, while forcibly reducing sugar intake is a good thing, it doesn’t restore the balance. Nor do other diet disciplines – or even fitting a gastric band. They’re treating symptoms, not cause. And experiments with sugar tax are not working anyway.

What’s wrong is our gut bacteria are out of balance. Some essential ones are missing – others are out of whack – not performing as they should. Altogether, vital numbers are down.

And it’s not sugar that’s doing this. A healthy body wouldn’t eat that much sugar anyway. It doesn’t need it, so the system doesn’t ask for it – no craving, no weight gain. Besides, sugar is food – and all that any bacteria know how to do is eat. So our gut bacteria make the choice – eat what we need, leave what we don’t – the extra goes out in our poo.

No, so it’s not sugar – something far more serious. Something specially designed to kill bacteria.

Antibiotics – miracle lifesavers of modern medicine.

Yeah, lifesavers that kill.

Dropping an antibiotic capsule in amongst the teeming community of our gut bacteria is like exploding a hydrogen bomb. Sure the bad bacteria making us ill get their come-uppance. But so do billions and billions of innocent bystanders – vital good bacteria either killed or disabled, with some rarer types wiped out altogether.

Massacre within

Out of balance means out of control. Among other things, our gut bacteria no longer switch off when they’ve had enough to eat – they keep on and on. They extract more nutrients than they should too – squeeze more out of our food, then force it round our bodies. With nowhere else to go, we get fatter and fatter and fatter.

Yeah, sure – antibiotics are supposed to cure us. But farmers of all kinds have known for years that antibiotics boost growth fast – plants and animals grow bigger, quicker, when dosed with antibiotics.

Which is what’s happening to us.

Before sugar even gets to us, antibiotics are triggering the CAUSE of making us fat.

And not just in one-off’s either – one prescription and that’s your lot – though they are one hell of a jump start. Feed antibiotics to children under two, and by five they’ll be visibly overweight, with their systems accelerating to go even further.

Every time we take antibiotics, we attack our gut bacteria further. Lesser diversity, more out of balance – we’re not just triggering obesity, but all kinds of other life-threats as well.

Every day, another hit

Worse, every single one of us unconsciously takes antibiotics every day – not as medicine, but in our food. Laced with the stuff to boost growth, they’re in all our meat and vegetables – everything we buy in the supermarket.

Which means every mouthful we take is another hit to our gut bacteria – another swing to knock us further off balance. Worst of all, our systems never recover to where they were – with every downer, we’re a little bit less than we were before – fatter, less healthy, more at risk of serious illness.

Cutting down on sugar?

Good idea, yes – but shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Picture Copyright: ocusfocus / 123RF Stock Photo