Monthly Archives: April 2016

No more saving lives, bacteria win: end of the road for antibiotics

Worried med team
Antibiotics dilemma: short-term lifesavers, long-term killers

It’s already started and nothing can stop it. Bacteria are winning, as doctors always knew they would.

Survivors for billions and billions of years, we dared to think we could fight them and beat them. Dazzled by the brilliance of antibiotic healing, we were too proud to see the reality underneath – that every day they were actually killing us more and more

Not so super

Now our miracle lifesavers have met their kryptonite. Super powers gone, melted into nothings, they’re unmasked as the killers they always were.

Because that’s all that antibiotics ever did – kill bacteria.

First the bad bacteria that made us ill, making us think they really made us better.  Lifesavers, amazing.

Then the good bacteria we all have in our gut, so essential to our systems that they’re 90% of the bodies we inhabit. Not that we knew that at the time. Or even worried about it that much.

Bad bacteria dead, good. Good bacteria dead, bad.

Whoops.

But that was before we even thought about gut bacteria. Or even knew we had any. Or that they were so vital to our existence. Or that exposing them to antibiotics would destroy or disable key bodily functions we had no idea they influenced. Digestion, hunger control, chemical balance, immune system management.

Actually, we’re still not taking that seriously enough. Titanic has already hit the iceberg and instead we’re anguishing about antibiotics resistance – still clinging to antibiotics as miracle drugs, even though they’re not working any more because bacteria have mutated to become immune to them.

Wake up, everybody – that ship is already sinking.

Bacteria always win

Because bacteria have won and always will – it’s only a matter of when. Even Alexander Fleming admitted that they would, right back in 1928 when he discovered penicillin.

And just check out how quickly they do it.

Penicillin-resistant staph emerged in 1940, just twelve years later – when antibiotics were still in their infancy, not used on the scale they are today. Then as usage ramped up, resistance developed faster, some strains happening almost overnight.

  • Tetracycline introduced 1950, resistance identified 1959.
  • Erythromycin introduced 1953, resistance identified 1968.
  • Methicillin introduced 1960, resistance identified 1962.
  • Gentamycin introduced 1967, resistance identified 1979.
  • Vancomycin introduced 1972, resistance identified 1988.
  • Ceftazidime introduced 1985, resistance identified 1987.
  • Levofloxacin introduced 1996, resistance identified THE SAME YEAR.
  • Ceftaroline introduced 2010, resistance identified 2011.

And these are just the short list!

Food, food, food

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the big discovery was that antibiotics promoted growth of animals and plants Big Time. Four times as big, in a quarter of the time, on the same amount of feed.

These were the original  fattening drugs – fed to farm animals every day in sub-therapeutic doses that ensured continued growth – overriding natural hunger controls so that animals gorged and gorged, supersize ready for market.

And of course, pooed out onto the ground to be used as fertiliser for feed crops and other plant types, maintaining antibiotics levels right through the food chain to our dinner tables.

Which means that we eat them too, so they make US fat  – which is how come two thirds of adults are now overweight or obese, with killer illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease to look forward to –thousands of times more deadly than all antibiotics resistant superbugs put together.

Time to fight back

Oh sure, we could develop new antibiotics to cope with newly-resistant bacteria strains – a few short-term wins if we could meet the cost. Save a few thousand lives before bacteria mutated again and nixed everything back to zero.

Well, not exactly zero because our continuing daily sub-therapeutic food doses would still ensure we succumbed to diabetes, cancer, heart disease or any of the many other deadly killers once thought eradicated, now poised for a comeback – TB, pneumonia, typhoid, cholera, bubonic plague, back to the Dark Ages.

Our only defence?

That’s back to the Dark Ages too – illness avoidance, but with a modern twist.

Avoiding germs means making sure there aren’t any – you can’t catch them if there aren’t any around.

So, soap and water, back to washing our hands. Every opportunity we get, scrub, rinse, dry.

And not just our hands, but the spaces around us – the things we touch, the air we move through, our enclosed and shared daily indoor world. Protected by ionised hydrogen peroxide mist that destroys all viruses and bacteria by oxidising them to oblivion.

Safe, sterile, secure spaces where our weakened bodies and our precious gut bacteria, ravaged by a lifetime’s exposure to antibiotics in our food, are no longer threatened by external bacteria intent on destroying us.

Next stop, getting the antibiotics OUT of our food. No easy task with anywhere from 65,000 to 240,000 tonnes of them being pumped into agriculture every year (per the Prime Minister’s specially requested review ) – enabling population numbers a staggering 5 billion higher than half a century ago.

Lots of big money, lots of vested interests, lots of incentive to do nothing.

But don’t worry, bacteria will take care of that too.

With antibiotics still in our food, long term illnesses will continue to rise. So will death rates from an increasing number of dread diseases. Maybe by the time half of us are killed off, we’ll come to our senses and stop using the damned things.

They’ve let us play God for long enough, now it’s time to start paying.

Picture Copyright: matthewephotography / 123RF Stock Photo

The awkward truth: why that horrible norovirus just keeps coming back

Scared woman
Unless you get serious, norovirus will always be back

Horrible, yes.

But totally avoidable.

Even though norovirus is about the most virulent bug there is.

Super contagious

It doesn’t have to happen in the first place – and it doesn’t have to happen AGAIN.

Because the real cause, pretty near always, is our own sloppy hygiene.

Even when it’s running riot – tens, or even hundreds of people down at a time – somebody somewhere didn’t clean something, and the germs found their target.

Mind you, this is not a bug to take chances with. It only takes 10 particles of norovirus to transfer from your skin to your mouth or the sensitive tissue round your eye and BING! You’re hit. Way more potent than the common cold of flu, which needs at least 25 particles – and even then, you have to be unlucky.

Not so, norovirus. Just the smallest contact is all it takes. A door handle, a keypad, a handful of change. Inevitable if you then eat something with your fingers – like a slice of pizza at a fairground.

Hit by our own sloppy hygiene

Easy-peasy fast food – easy-peasy infection. Because washing your hands when you’re having fun is not even on the radar, is it? And how many fairgrounds have proper places to wash your hands?

Or, come to that, how many of us remember to carry around antiseptic wipes or gel, to cover the certainty there’ll be no place to wash up? Or even if we do, to pull the stuff out and use it?

Who remembers washing hands AT ALL when you’re having fun? Or even thinks about the possibility you could run into trouble?

Which is how it happens – in a microsecond. The bug is in you and you don’t even know it.

And you won’t for the next four hours – maybe even longer. For some people, it can be next day.

But then, as all of us know, all hell breaks loose. The most unbearable cramps, violent vomiting, and totally uncontrollable diarrhoea.

Something you ate, for sure. It usually is. So you think back. You remember your last meal, whatever it was – and immediately think “food poisoning”. Something was off, the place was unclean, you’re going to sue them to pieces.

Never a thought about sloppy hygiene. Not the slightest recall that you never washed your hands before the time, or even most of the day. You’ve found your scapegoat, the place that served you last. Badmouth them to all your friends, write a rant on TripAdvisor, sue.

You wish.

One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back

Because 9 times out of 10, you’re down with poisoned food, not food poisoning. Food contaminated by the germs you ALREADY HAD on your fingers – from the handrail in the street outside, or the light switch by the door, or any one of a thousand other places.

Much more likely though, from residual poo on your hands last time you hit the loo. A yucky thought, yes – but it’s an awkward truth, most of us don’t bother to wash our hands after the loo. And even if we do, most of us never even do it properly.

Five seconds squishing under the tap – not washing at all, just spreading things around. And germs just love warm, damp skin on which to thrive and multiply. We are our own worst enemies.

Which means all those cramps, upchucks and rocket blasts in the toilet are our own doing. We brought them on ourselves and now we’re paying for it – spreading spew and splatter all over the place.

Norovirus efficiency

There’s a reason for that too. The exploding violence of spew and splatter.

That’s how norovirus spreads itself. Using your own body convulsions to propel itself far and wide, to infect as many other victims as possible. To spread and hide and lie in wait. To multiply and take over, ensuring re-infection is inevitable.

And very efficient with it too. Not even 3 microns across, this microscopic nasty is small enough to get through the HEPA or High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters in most aircraft, hospital and restaurant ventilation systems – riding the air, lighter than smoke or dust, easily spreading EVERYWHERE.

Which is why so many norovirus clean-ups always fail. They never plan for EVERYWHERE, so the virus boomerangs back.

Hello! Remember me? Enjoy the runs and upchucks last time? Here we go again!

The job wasn’t complete, so it has to be done again. And again. And again. Until either people get their act together, or the outbreak runs out of momentum.

In the meantime that highly contagious spreading misery bug is everywhere. The patches on the carpet, in the loo, on the curtains, on skin, on clothing, in hair, and spinning through the air. Spread as far and wide as violent upchucks and squitters can force them. In cracks and crevices, under and behind things. Lurking on every surface anybody touches – most of all, let’s say it again, spinning through the air.

Regular onceovers are never enough

Which means coming along with a mop and bucket full of Cif isn’t going to crack it. Nor even industrial strength Domestos. Because no way anybody is going to reach all those tiny nooks and crannies, or get into all the corners, or reach right up walls and ceilings into the light fittings, or round all the cables of the equipment in the corner.

Dead easy of course for a microscopic bug wafting on the breeze from the door, settling yards away from the nearest upchuck incident, ready to settle on the first raincoat as it’s pulled off, rucking up together with 90 of its mates as the person wipes her face, in to the body round the eye socket… Bingo!

And that’s even if our poor victim DOES wash her hands. Her fingers might be clean, but the bug is picked up from the things she touches. The norovirus secret, laughing at us.

Except we can laugh too.

Because there IS a way to take down norovirus, tenacious though it may be – even from the air around us, even from every tiny crack and crevice.

Total germ destruction

Fact: no germ comes back from treatment with airborne hydrogen peroxide. A few seconds contact and cells are ripped apart, DNA destroyed – all viruses and bacteria are gone.

And the machine that does it is a Hypersteriliser.

Press one button and it generates a fine, dry mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide – electrostatically charged so its molecules penetrate everywhere, repelled by each other and trying to escape from themselves. In doing so they force themselves through the air, hard up against work surfaces, countertops, floors, walls and ceilings, into cracks and crevices.

The lurking norovirus and other germs don’t stand a chance. With an opposite electrostatic charge of their own, the hydrogen peroxide particles are actively drawn to them like a magnet. Forty minutes to allow proper dispersal for the average room and the place is totally sterile.

No more norovirus, no more comebacks – job done.

Hope you start feeling better soon.

Picture Copyright: ostill / 123RF Stock Photo

Not so fatso, your gut feel goodbye to losing a whole ton of weight

Slimmers success
Go with your gut, keep your bacteria happy and avoid being fat

Imagine. Fatso is not you any more.

The real you is back, and looking good. Rescued by gut feel.

It CAN be done

OK, so the workouts and careful eating help.

But the real success is down to your gut – more accurately to the teeming colonies of 100 trillion essential bacteria that live there – the ones that handle digestion, control your immune system, and yes, manage your weight.

Keep these guys in balance and your body works just fine, your weight stays normal, you’re in good health and full of natural energy.

Upset them and you pay the price. As most of us do from the constant inclusion of antibiotics in our diet. Yes, the same stuff the Doc prescribes when you’re not well – but swallowed unconsciously with every meal because farmers use antibiotics big time to boost plant and animal growth.

Gobbling fat-makers

Which means with every mouthful you’re chowing down traces of the same stuff used to make beef cattle grow faster, fruit to grow bigger and sweeter, grain crops to yield twice as much for every harvest – with more body and taste.

Getting fat might be good for producing food on the farm – but it’s sure destructive to human beings. You look like a podge – and all that extra weight triggers a slew of health problems. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease are just some of the ailments facing you if you can’t get the weight off.

You see, what antibiotics do is kill bacteria. Good if you’re fighting a life-threatening bug that’s making you ill. But disastrous to the trillions and trillions of other bacteria living in your gut and doing useful work. Without their diversity and continued well-being, things go wrong quickly – especially if they’re damaged or missing completely.

The leptin balance

Like over-production of leptin, the hormone that signals satiety to your body – telling the brain you’ve had enough to eat, it’s time to stop.

Yes, you read that right, over-production. Because when that happens, the brain becomes resistant to the signals – the same as receiving no signals at all – leptin resistance. Your body keeps saying it’s hungry, so you go on eating and eating and… you know how it goes.

Thankfully, you can do something about it. Leptin is closely tied to insulin production, which in turn is regulated by sugar intake. Get your sugar levels down, and you can start taking back control. Fatso no more.

Why you are what you eat

Uh huh, it becomes a diet thing – you have to cut down on fructose and processed foods. Supported by the right kind of exercise to help things along – nothing excessive and going easy on the cardio, good high intensity stuff like weight lifting, but avoiding stress.

Hard work and boring, right?

But thankfully, researchers are beginning to recognise gut bacteria is way more significant to our health than anyone realised. Every day now, new treatments are emerging that work directly on these vital microorganisms inside our bodies – easier and more effective than punishing diets and exercise.

Hope for the heavy

For instance, tucked away in today’s papers is a report on using small doses of a particular type of bacteria – escherichia coli – to blunt the desire for sweet tastes, emulating the normal switch-off effect of leptin.

E.coli is not a bug to play around with, in other forms it triggers highly dangerous symptoms of food poisoning. But using bacteria to control bacteria makes a lot more sense than using killers like antibiotics.

Other researchers are playing around with a body enzyme called histone deacetylase 5 (HDAC5), an alternative sidestep to counter leptin resistance. By activating HDAC5, scientists found they could restore leptin sensitivity and actually reverse obesity under lab conditions.

Yet another option we’re likely to see soon is the poo transplant – transferring bacteria from the faeces of a “thin” healthy person to a “fat” unhealthy one. So far this method is mostly used for controlling infections difficult to get rid of such as clostridium difficile. By redressing the bacteria balance – and reintroducing bacteria killed in continual antibiotic attacks, again obesity can be reversed.

All of which is life-saving stuff for the two thirds of us who are already overweight or obese.

But developing these treatments properly for humans will take a while yet, so stick to the diet and exercise.

Fatso? Not you.

Picture Copyright: tobkatrina / 123RF Stock Photo

Revealed: more dirt on the NHS crisis

Payoff
Throw money at the NHS all we like, the dirt will still be there

Over-crowding, check. Long waiting times, check. Not enough beds, check. Not enough doctors, check. Most of the dirty work has been done already.

Not by medics. By Westminster. Put a bunch of politicos together and they’ll screw up anything.

Disorganised chaos

Which is how come we have GPs only working 9 to 5 and not weekends – some damn fool renegotiated their contracts.

The same bunch of idiots also shut all the care homes – so the old folks had no place to go.

Oh yeah, and because they know more about medicine than anyone else in the universe, they instituted targets and 5 minute consultation slots, so most diagnoses are only thumb-suck and people go home worse than they started.

And twenty-four hour drinking – double and triple injuries, accidents and liver-related issues.

Oh, and of course, mindless immigration.

Welcome to our country, we have no facilities to support you, so you can live in a paper bag. What do you mean, your whole family is sick?

Nice one, hey? But they’re who we voted for and that’s the service we pay taxes on. We’ve lucked it on ourselves.

Our own fault

Actually, we really have. Because aside from these Westminster-driven overcrowding and logistical shortfalls, most NHS issues are driven by two things – dirt and antibiotics damage.

The dirt is all of us, because our personal  hygiene is so appalling. That’s the only word for it. The only reason we’re not permanently sick is the compensating level of sanitation organised around us. Safe water to drink, effective sewage, clean streets, regular rubbish removal. Take them away and we’d all be cholera cases.

Because pretty well most of us are dirty all the time – particularly our hands, which touch everything – the major source of infection transfer. Don’t believe it? The view in the mirror is not nice.

Take out accidents, because they can happen to anyone – and we’re left with a high proportion of people suffering ailments and illnesses brought on by their own lack of hygiene. In workplaces alone less than half of us have accidents, so the rest comes down to dirt.

Dirt, unclean hands and bodies, unchecked infection, inevitable illness.

If we washed our hands regularly – certainly before food and after the loo every time, we’d take more than 50% of cases away from GPs – more than 50% of cases away from A&E.

Amazing, huh? Half the NHS budget in an instant. Soap and water beats billions of pounds of salaries and investment.

And for the real dirt

Which leaves antibiotics damage.

Not so easy, this one.

We think of antibiotics as amazing rescue medicines – and yes they are, in an emergency.

Trouble is, they work by killing bacteria – which is fine as long as they only kill the “bad guy” bacteria making us ill. Unfortunately, they kill a lot wider than that – which destroys or damages a lot of the vitally necessary “good guy” bacteria we each of us have living in our own gut – to handle digestion, manage our immune systems, and a thousand other essential functions.

And the bad news is, we’re exposed to antibiotics all the time – not from medicine, but from food. They’re the farmer’s miracle growth promoter – shovelled into feedstuffs for every meal, accelerating development of livestock and plant crops four and five times bigger and faster.

We eat plants and animals, we swallow the antibiotics too – so we get bigger, faster as well. Which is why two thirds of us are now overweight or obese – and a third of our children too – at a cost to the NHS of £73 billion a year.  Ripe candidates for type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Plus all the other glitches to our immune systems. Like allergies we never used to have – asthma, rhinitis, food intolerance, dermatitis, eczema, hay fever, dust, mould, nuts, coeliac disease – the list is endless.

And all the while, our immune systems become less and less resilient, more prone to the slightest infection. More at risk from the billions and billions of viruses and bacteria that surround us every second of every day. Microscopic organisms, invisible but deadly,  nano-dirt in the air and on every surface around us.

Plenty more cases to send to A&E. Long-term illnesses with slow debilitation. At the rate we’re going, ALL of us could wind up in hospital – and the NHS would sink without trace.

How we’ll survive

OK, so we can wash our hands, that’s Defence One.

Defence Two is to sterilise our surroundings, keeping them safe as our resistance diminishes. Not the great outdoors of course, that’s impossible. But we can protect our enclosed living spaces, homes, schools, workplaces, hotels, restaurants, even planes and trains and ships.

All it takes is a regular mist-up of safe and eco-friendly ionised hydrogen peroxide. A dry spray that reaches deep into cracks and crevices, behind and under objects, hard up against walls and ceilings, and of course across every inch of flat surface. Forty minutes and all viruses and bacteria are destroyed. No germs, anywhere.

Waiting for Westminster – again

Now it’s up to the politicos to get antibiotics out of our food chain – to get them under control with proper protective legislation, to stop the health-sapping drift to obesity that all of us have, and will continue to have, until the drugs are out of our diet.

And that’s really the dirt. Because so many of us are already sick or sickening needlessly from Westminster’s negligence. Take away the health threat and the NHS stands a fighting chance of being the service it ought to be.

Oh yeah, as long as we don’t forget to wash our hands all the time as well – the other main cause of illnesses everywhere. It’s a personal responsibility none of us can step away from.

Picture Copyright: nito500 / 123RF Stock Photo

Don’t slag off Dyson’s Airblade, slag the germs off your hands first

Girl showing off hands
If your hands are washed clean, there’s no germs to dry off anyway

Brilliant piece of kit, Dyson’s Airblade hand dryer. First time you see it, you think  wow amazing.  The same when you use it.

Which kinda has us jumping up and down when we see a bunch of technology wonks have published research to say it spreads germs 1,300 more than paper towels.

A good idea world-wide

For starters, if it was that rotten, the giant Mitsubishi Electric Corporation wouldn’t have rushed out their own high speed Jet Towel, would they? A good idea is a good idea – and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And don’t knock it because it’s Japanese, they turn good ideas into the best in the world.

But right now it’s Dyson that’s taking the flak – our own world-leading brilliant technology company. And frankly in our view, these Westminster University researchers  claiming the AIrBlade spreads germs aren’t doing any of us a favour.

First off, the machine is a hand DRYER, right? The whole premise of its design is that hands might be wet, but they have already been cleaned. THERE ARE NO GERMS TO BE BLOWN OFF.

Unclean, unclean

So if the Westminster Uni  people found the thing spread germs, their hands must have pretty dodgy in the first place to have spread so many.

Yeah, well. Why are we not surprised? If they were basing their research on the typical behaviour of real people – which they should have – their hands were laden with all kinds of gunk. Here’s why.

Uh huh. The germs got spread because the hands weren’t clean.

End of.

Sure, lots of tiny drops of water would have spread around the place. The thing is basically a fan, for goodness sake – that’s what fans do. And Dyson’s jobbie blasts air at 430 mph – you don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.

Drops of CLEAN water – the hands were supposed to be properly washed first, remember? And Dyson’s dryer only blasts clean air because it’s sucked in through a HEPA filter before it gets to your hands anyway.

Which means microorganisms down to only 3 microns across don’t come anywhere near you – one heck of a lot better than paper towels.

Paper towels anyway are really compensating for poor hygiene in a non-touchless environment.

Touchless hygiene

If a washroom has Dysons installed, it probably has no-touch infra red taps too – and soap dispensers. The only contact is hand-to-hand scrubbing and rinsing – which done properly should ensure all the germs go down the plughole.

Most people are incredibly wasteful of paper towels anyway.

As Joe Smith points out in his superb hand washing video, in America 13 billion pounds of paper towels (5,9 million tonnes) are used every year, just to dry hands.  571,231,000 pounds of that (259,106 tonnes) is wasted by people fumbling around, not thinking what they’re doing.

Why all this hoo-hah about washing hands?

Because in our Twenty-First Century always-on-the-go, digital world, clean hands are often all that’s between us and coming down with any number of bugs like norovirus, escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, or simply colds and flu.

Finger food, fast infection

Look no further than our favourite choice of food. Burgers, chicken drumsticks, hot dogs, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, tamales, tortillas – all eaten with fingers. Now ask yourself honestly, when was the last time you washed your hands before you ate? Not really on the radar when you’re out and about, is it?

OK, so now wash your hands – the way you’re supposed to, with enough time to sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice. And now dry them off with the Dyson. No worries, right?

Hey, hey, hey! 430 mph of clean air. Now you’re really cooking with gas!

No, no, George – we need to REPLACE antibiotics, not discover new ones

Research lab
Time for alternatives – 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year aren’t helping

George Osborne is absolutely right about one thing. We need coordinated global action on antibiotics ASAP or millions of people will die.

Not because superbugs are resistant to them so our miracle life-savers don’t work any more. But because our miracle life-savers are super killers in their own right – far deadlier than killing just the 10 million people a year George anticipates by 2050.

Killer life-savers

And make no mistake, they ARE killers. That’s how they work. Killing is what they’re designed to do. It’s why they’ve been so successful at saving lives in the past – they kill harmful bacteria that try to kill us.

Trouble is, that’s not all they kill. They’re not targeted that tightly. So in destroying the one harmful bacterium that’s so dangerous to us, they take out other  bacteria too. Modifying and maiming others. Collateral damage among the 100 trillion bacteria that naturally inhabit our human gut – not unlike setting off a hydrogen bomb.

Kind of devastating to our bodies, because those bacteria are supposed to be there. Without them we wouldn’t be able to digest food or control most of our bodily functions. Nor would our immune systems work.

Sure, a course of antibiotics can cure us of an illness. But our systems never come back 100% to where they were before. While many bacteria can quickly reproduce themselves to make up numbers, whole colonies of others are simply wiped out. The essential diversity that defends us is lost. We are more at risk, less resilient, weaker than we were.

As for the damage antibiotics cause, we’re seeing the results every day – in the spreading waistlines of our rapidly fattening population. Today, two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. So are one third of children. And as any doctor can advise, obesity puts us well on the road to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Not just 10 million a year, George. More like 100 times that.

The glutton factory

Caused by the side effect that antibiotics glitch the mechanism that controls our hunger. It switches on, but never switches off – unconsciously we’re always craving food, even though we’ve just eaten. We become gluttons, OD-ing on quick-charge power foods like burgers, pizza, hot dogs and chips.

Of course farmers lucked onto this decades ago. That feeding antibiotics to livestock would make them bulk up quicker. Four times as big, in quarter of the time, all for the same amount of food. The ultimate growth booster. Today, 70% of all antibiotics goes into agriculture.

Jackpot!

Which is why world consumption of antibiotics is now between 65,000 and 240,000 TONNES a year. Not our thumb-suck either, that’s straight out of the Prime Minister’s specially requested review of antibiotics: Antimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment.

Which also means George, that it’s not exactly necessary to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to produce antibiotics. At 240,000 tonnes a year, they’re making a mint already.

Now we get to the nasty bit.

Super growth promoters

OK, so those 240,000 tonnes get fed to cows (and sheep and pigs and poultry and fish) along with their daily feedstuff. They chew it around and digest it, extracting the nutrients they need, then promptly poo 80-90% of it straight out again as waste.

Well no, not waste. Manure – rich, fertile nutrition for plants, laced through with antibiotics. Grazing grass, feed crops like sugar beet, soya and rapeseed, fed BACK into animals. Fertiliser for fruit, veg and grain staples like rice and wheat and maize.

Yup, you’ve got it. Pretty well everything that we humans eat these days has residual antibiotics in it. Our share of the 240,000 tonnes a year.

Not big doses, mind. Strictly sub-therapeutic. Small enough for our own gut bacteria to develop their own built-in antibiotic resistance. And of course small enough to knock our hunger switches out of kilter so we all become food gluttons – bulking up on power foods just like the cows do. Four times as big, in quarter of the time. Gimme another five burgers.

Yeah, so antibiotics, George. Not one of your best ideas.

But a replacement for them, now you’re talking.

Bacteriophages

The topdog medics will probably throw up their hands, but one option might be bacteriophages – using VIRUSES to kill harmful bacteria, the way the Soviets did back in the Cold War. Easier to target more precisely – more rifle than shotgun – easy to mutate in parallel as bacteria themselves mutate to find resistance.

Easy to fund too – just take it out of the profits being used to produce 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year that the world no longer needs because they’re killing us. Or at least the diabetes, heart disease and cancer they trigger through obesity that are killing us.

One snag. It takes 12 or more years to develop a new drug and release it to patients. In the meantime, we have no defence – as antibiotics literally become worse than useless.

Hygiene to the rescue

Ah, but we’re not dead yet.

Because the one sure way to compensate for antibiotics is AVOID needing them in the first place.

We can’t get sick if there are no germs. So we need to ensure that there aren’t any.

Right now, our daily hygiene is so iffy, it’s a wonder we’re not dying in droves already.

Easy peasy, right George?

Soap and water when we can, antibacterial wipes or gel when we can’t. A lot more affordable than 240,000 tonnes of killer antibiotics.

But it’s not just germs on our hands. We need to look at our living space as well. The enclosed rooms we share at school, work, eating out or being entertained – they’re full of germs too. Unless we mist them up overnight when we’re not there – sterilise germs in the air and on all surfaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

No germs on our hands, no germs where we live. Barring accidents we could get by without antibiotics – at least in the short term.

Over to you, George.

Picture Copyright: kovalvs / 123RF Stock Photo

You really want to sue for fast food making you fat?

Gob-stopper
Sentenced to obesity – driven by antibiotics

Actually sue?

Just don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Because if any Tom, Dick or Nina walks in off the street and orders a burger, you don’t see them get fat do you? They don’t get fat tomorrow either, or the next day – so it’s not a residual thing.

Time to get real

One burger won’t make you fat. Twenty burgers might.

But it’s not the burger people forcing them on you is it? It’s you, ordering however many you’re lusting after.

Of your own free will. It’s you eating them too. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head.

So why are you fat?

You never used to be like this. Always ate responsibly, good balanced meals. Stayed off the fast food too. A burger maybe once a blue moon. So how come this sudden ballooning up to Size 18?

Yes, you are what you eat, but most of the time it’s salad. Cottage cheese maybe, dry bread crackers. Where’s the fatness in that? It’s not fair, your body’s not meant to be like this. Someone has to pay.

Hold that thought – your body’s not meant to be like this.

No it isn’t. But it’s not the burger people’s fault.

Nor is it yours.

Nor is it any of the two-thirds adult population of Britain who are reluctantly becoming overweight, hating every second of their unwanted, unjustified and entirely blameless obesity.

Blameless?

But aren’t those people fat because they eat too much? Pigging out on junk food all the time, no self control, careless people who let themselves go?

Not like you at all.

The unexpected truth

Actually, exactly like you. And yes, entirely blameless.

It’s perfectly true most of them eat too much. You may well find your own body dragging you that way soon enough. You eat like a bird now, but the terrible cravings will come and your system will demand it. Power up for a big effort ahead, rest ready for the big push.

Except the effort never comes and the lazing around becomes indulgent. Overnight you’re a couch potato.

NO!

No wonder you feel like suing. And maybe you should. Because SOMETHING has made you fat, you were never this way before. Somebody ought to pay.

Might be difficult to make it stick though. Because the SOMETHING that’s made you fat is antibiotics. Not the stuff you get from the Doc, though that could have triggered the start of it all.

Unseen growth promoters

We’re talking the stuff you unknowingly eat every day, contained within your ordinary meals – the background antibiotics present in nearly all farm-produced foods – regularly fed to livestock as a prophylactic to stop them getting ill, but really shovelled in because they’re proven growth promoters.

You’re getting fat from the same source that fattens up farm animals for market. From the manure they produce that’s used  to grow everything else – fruit, vegetables, grain crops, animal feed – laced through with growth-boosting antibiotics, without the farmer or anyone else knowing a thing about it.

The antibiotics mess with your gut bacteria, upsetting the fine balance that controls digestion, your immune system and yes, hunger control.

When you’re hungry, your bacteria produce ghrelin, a hormone that tells the brain it’s time to eat, the tank is empty. When you’re full they produce leptin, which says that’s enough, stop, the tank is full.

Hunger Glitch

 

Trouble is, with constant exposure to antibiotics, your system becomes resistant to leptin causing the brain to ignore the STOP signals. The ghrelin hunger signal is still loud and clear, causing you to crave food – high octane stuff that can fill you up, the sooner the better.

Fast food junkies

Which is where the addiction to fast food comes from. Not junk food at all, the body knows it’s the fastest way to to get high powered energy. But eat all that stuff when there’s no real demand and that power has got to go somewhere.

You bulk up, not meaning to, and hate yourself doing it – “junk food” is your way of showing it contempt. But to a starving child a Big Mac is a nutritious bonanza, the quickest way back to healthy living again.

OK, so who are you going to sue? You bought food in good faith, thinking it was healthy, unaware it was loaded with antibiotics. Maybe you should sue the supermarkets.

Except wait a minute, they can’t afford people like you raising health issues – and they probably don’t know either. They bought from suppliers in good faith that their produce was healthy. Look how quickly they whip things off the shelves if there’s the slightest alarm – products recalled for impurities, contamination, deterioration, insecure packaging. They should sue their suppliers.

It’s always the poor farmer that gets it in the neck isn’t it? Yes, he uses antibiotics – and has to account for them meticulously with every animal he sells. Has to keep records that prove antibiotics were withdrawn from diet for a safe period before sale. He uses them in good faith that they’re safe. He should sue the manufacturers.

How far do you take this? The manufacturer sells antibiotics in good faith that they will be used properly and responsibly – world demand is currently anywhere between 63,000 tonnes and 240,000 tonnes. There are hungry people to feed, how can they be culpable? It’s the politicians who are responsible, sue them.

Yeah, right. Sue politicians. Like when is that ever going to work? Best you can do is vote them out – then get down to the gym and switch to salad. Yeah, you’re fat and it’s not your fault, but it’s unlikely you’ll nail anyone for criminal negligence.

At least you know sweat will work – no pain, no gain. And you won’t be fat any more.

Good luck, we’re on the treadmill next to you.

Picture Copyright: poznyakov / 123RF Stock Photo

Antibiotics in food: are major investors about to take a bath?

Serious business
Nobody has successfully sued for obesity yet – but antibiotics in food are a definite cause

Now the headlines start – ANTIBIOTICS IN FOOD.

Not panicky in the tabloids, but concerned in the financial pages. Not a lifestyle thing but a possible investment issue. Not a problem yet – but going to be.

Because for the first time, the City are taking note. Are they threatened? Are they about to take a bath?

Food safety in jeopardy

The short answer is, you bet. As soon as the penny drops.

As soon as the focus shifts from antimicrobial resistance and the rise of superbugs – to the much bigger problem of worldwide obesity and health degeneration – triggering a long-term epidemic of deaths from diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

A total train smash for the food industry.

Right now the alarm is that antibiotics used in farming are reaching through to the human food chain, increasing the risk of ingesting superbug bacteria – harmful pathogens that cannot be treated by antibiotics. Such alarm is justified – 25,000 people die in Europe each year from an antibiotic-resistant infection.

But the real issue is not even on the radar. Not with government, not with health organisations, not with food authorities or control bodies, nobody. A train smash is coming and you read it here first.

Because, yes, antibiotics are the crunch issue – but not from superbug resistance.

The body fatteners

The real crisis is the effect of antibiotics as super performance GROWTH PROMOTERS on the human body. The antibiotics in our food is making us obese – a problem 20 times more deadly than antimicrobial resistance. 400,000 deaths each year in the EU are directly linked to excess weight.

Closer to home, obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year (6% of all deaths in the UK).  All driven by antibiotics.

Government won’t admit it of course. Nor the health experts, nor the food industry.

They’re all in denial.

Yet right there, in a review commissioned directly by the Prime MinisterAntimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment – the presence of large quantities of antibiotics excreted by animals in manure and fertiliser used for crop and feedstuff production is acknowledged – alongside recognition that antibiotics are used widely as growth promoters.

Therefore they know, all the way to the top – that antibiotics are present in everything we eat. Picked up with nutrients in soil enriched with antibiotic-laden manure, the common denominator to high intensity farming for both produce and livestock. Meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, grain crops – all are boosted by “natural” manure.

Fatness is a killer

Just like farm animals, our growth is promoted too, in exactly the same way – the daily drip, drip, drip of sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Just like farm animals, we are getting fat – to the point that it is now a national calamity. More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.

We eat too much without knowing why – antibiotics have glitched our systems so we can’t stop eating. Which means more than 2 in 3 adults are already a candidate for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other health risks associated with obesity – with staggering implications for the food industry.

  • The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has tipped over the 4 million mark.
  • Deaths from cancer in the UK in 2012 totalled 161,823.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide -responsible for more than 73,000 deaths in the UK each year.

Antibiotics are even in our water too. In one study, run-off in the Thames from manure-enriched soil was found to contain trimethoprim, oxytetracycline, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, cefotaxime, doxycycline, sulfamethoxazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin, ofloxacin and norfloxacin.

So face it, in the not too distant future, you’re going to get fat too – if you’re not already.

Obesity lawsuits

Surprisingly though, as far as we know, nobody has ever successfully taken legal action because their food made them fat – yet.  But food companies are right to look at get-out options. With spiralling death rates, what food brand wants ANY kind of numbers on their corporate conscience?

Because antibiotics don’t just make you fat. They actually work by killing bacteria. And as we are only now starting to discover, the body is host to over 100 trillion bacteria in the gut alone – inextricably entwined with the digestion of food, production of proteins and regulation of the immune system. We meddle with these at our peril.

So it’s not just obesity. Any kind of damage to these bacteria can trigger other weaknesses or deficiencies, most obvious of which is allergies – the body chasing phantom ailments to its own detriment.

So yeah, count on it. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a stampede. Get rid of antibiotics – maybe get out of food altogether – into something safe, like knitting.

Because yes, antibiotics are there in our food – and not going away any time soon.

Picture Copyright: stocking / 123RF Stock Photo

Vital wake-up call behind this year’s flu-jab flop

Ready for injection
So what’s our Plan B when the medicines don’t work?

It’s not just vital, it’s absolutely crucial. A just-in-time reminder that both viruses and bacteria are living things, exactly like us.

More to the point, they are the most successful life-forms on the planet since the dawn of time. Survivors that adapt and change to suit conditions around them. Mutating to something entirely new in just minutes

Anatomy of a disaster

Which is why the flu-jab went wrong.

Every year, the most dangerous and virulent flu viruses mutate into a new strain. Every year, medical experts develop a new vaccine to clobber them. A moving target, because the viruses keep mutating all the time. So researchers have to predict which way they will develop before they actually do. Then work like mad to produce an effective serum before the opportunity passes.

Sometimes they guess right, sometimes they don’t. The viruses zig when they were expected to zag – sending that year’s protection plans down the drain.

Guess and super-guess

Which is what happened this winter. The A(H3N2) flu strain used to make the vaccine became sidelined when the main H3 virus developed in another direction. Result, 28,189 more deaths than the previous year – and a whole witch hunt about who is responsible and why.

Except nobody’s learning, are they?

Nobody is heeding the vital message – that viruses and bacteria mutate. That no matter how damn good we think we are, these small organisms – too tiny for the eye to see – can and will mutate into new forms impervious to whatever we throw at them.

Immune to antibiotics, immune to vaccines, immune to anything any health spokesperson might say, no matter how good they look on television.

Smart bugs

Time get real.

Because it’s not just the flu-jab that’s failed, it’s a lot of other meds besides. That have failed, or are going to fail, however we try to second-guess them.

Already there’s a whole slew of antibiotics that don’t work – vital drugs that could once save our lives from anything – now not even worth their weight in second-hand toffee paper.

For instance penicillin, the original wonder cure, was discovered in 1928, but resistant staph started emerging in 1940. Same story with erythromycin, launched in 1953 – with resistant strep occurring in 1968. Or methicillin, launched in 1960 with the dreaded tyrannosaurus rex MRSA rearing its head from 1962.

Bacteria have plenty of time, they can wait.

Which means we’re possibly only months away from total antibiotics failure altogether – slightly more significant than a flu-jab that doesn’t work.

But don’t take our word for it, no less a person than Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, identifies it as a threat on par with terrorism. Absolutely vital.

Microbial exit strategy

OK, so the flu-jab is a flop. Yet it shows us an out, even though it’s useless.

Because if we know the flu is coming but we have no defence, we still ought to be smart enough to avoid it. Same with any other bug, come to that – norovirus, Black Death, typhoid, Ebola.

AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. Vital self-protection.

Step One, wash hands – before and after any activity. Our fingers touch everything, often in quick succession – from filthy public loo because it’s an emergency – to Welsh Wagyu burger with onions and extra Stilton – because use a knife and fork and it will fall apart. How do you think norovirus happens?

Step Two, get rid of the germs around us. They’re always there, billions and billions of them – on every surface, in the air – we’re continually exposed, all the time.

But not if the place is sterilised. Not if the rooms we live in are sterilised free from germs before we enter. No viruses, no bacteria – zero opportunity for infection or disease.

All it takes is forty-odd minutes with a Hypersteriliser the night before. Misting up offices, classrooms, restaurants, waiting areas – everywhere with super-dry ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged to reach into every crack and crevice, actively grabbing at germs and destroying their cell structure.

Safe and secure

No germs, no problem, problem solved.

Which works for flu as well as any other bugs that might threaten us. No need for the jab, we’re safe.

We just have to wake up first.

Rediscover hygiene, or take our chances.

Picture Copyright: svetography / 123RF Stock Photo

Germs all around us – how safe are we really?

Worried about germs
Believe it or not, most bacteria are benign – they can only hurt you when they’re in the wrong place

How safe you are depends on you.

We’re all different – with different bodies, different strengths, different weaknesses. We all react differently to the world around us. We all have different luck.

We look after ourselves differently too. Some of us are OCD about cleanliness and health – Michael Jackson famously slept in an oxygen chamber.

Some of us are so lax, our hygiene is really logiene – we’re border-line stinky bad.

We’re bad

Not surprising when you look at the facts – it’s a wonder we’re not sick all the time.

Scary when you realise how germs really are all around us – and how at risk we are in very ordinary situations.

  • Office desks often harbour 10 million germs or more.
  • Keyboards on smartphones and tablets are riddled with more bacteria than toilet seats.
  • Most kitchens, particularly sinks, are alive with all kinds of invisible and harmful germs.

It’s not just germs on surfaces either. Every single one of us has our own cloud of germs we carry around with us – our own microbial signature, more unique and accurate than any fingerprint or retinal scan.

Always under threat

So why aren’t we dead?

Good question, because those germs certainly have a good go at us. Which is why so many of us keep getting ill all the time – down with e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, colds and flu – and most often norovirus. And why sick days cost the country £29 billion a year.

Only our immune systems keep us going. Protecting us from infection, defending us from harmful viruses and bacteria, keeping us safe.

Which is weird when you think about it, because our immune systems are largely controlled by the 100 trillion or more bacteria that live in our gut – our own microbiota. Don’t worry, they’re supposed to be there – in fact 90% of the substance we’re made of is actually bacteria more than human. Our own “good guy” germs inside – to protect us from the “bad guy” germs outside.

All hunky dory, except we’re not very good at keeping our own “good guys” safe. With our sloppy hygiene habits, we give the “bad guys” more of a chance – collecting them mostly on our hands from the dirty air and surfaces around us, then transferring them to the sensitive tissue around our eyes and mouth – most germs’ favourite way into the body.

Uh huh. And when we get sick?

Killer lifesavers

Run to the Doc for antibiotics, right? Our miracle wonder-drugs to get us out of trouble.

Once upon a time, yes. But not now.

Increasingly, doctors are finding that the bacteria causing the illness they’re treating us for are becoming resistant – the drugs just don’t work any more.

That’s not exactly surprising either, antibiotics have become so over-used and abused that 10 million prescriptions a year are written unnecessarily – for colds or sore throats, which antibiotics can’t cure anyway.

Worse still, antibiotics are shovelled into animals for food production at the rate of 65,000 tonnes a year – because of the amazing side effect that they make things grow bigger and faster – making everyone loads more money.

All of which gives bacteria plenty of opportunity to develop immunities – which as one of the oldest life forms on Earth they’ve been doing successfully for millions of years. However potent the antibiotic we develop is, sooner or later bacteria will always find a way to mutate around it. Usually sooner, they can reproduce in as little as twenty minutes.

Just check their track record. 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.

We are what we eat

Oh yeah, and the other thing is, we’re all of ingesting small amounts of antibiotics all the time. They’re stuffed into animals, so we gobble them up too – either directly from the meat, or indirectly, through the antibiotics-laden manure that’s used to grow fruit, veg and grain – and of course feedstuffs for other animals.

And antibiotics work by killing bacteria – including our own gut bacteria until they develop immunity. Which means our own immune systems are constantly under attack, by the very wonder drugs that are supposed to be saving our lives. Either as medicine or as food, our poor gut bacteria face constant assault from which they never fully recover.

Which means from generation to generation, we’re not as resilient as we used to be. Weaker, less able to stand up to threatening infections. And fatter – antibiotics boost animal growth, remember? So two thirds of adults and one third of children are all increasingly obese. All in an environment where our wonder-drugs don’t work.

Get the message? We’re not as safe as we think we are.

Playing it safe

UNLESS we make a point of keeping our hands clean at all times – particularly before food and after going to the loo.

AND if we keep our surroundings germ-free too – our homes, workplaces, schools, public buildings, everywhere.

Easy enough with Hypersterilisers – which mist up the air after hours with ionised hydrogen peroxide – ensuring that every morning when we come in, the place is safe and sterile.

NO viruses or bacteria anywhere. Except outside where they should be.

Safe from our “good guys” inside, where they should be.

Picture Copyright: liubomirt / 123RF Stock Photo