Avoid norovirus or worse as flood waters drop

Rain girl
Just remember, germs are like raindrops but smaller – up in the air and all over the place until you get rid of them

Goodbye Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank.

You weren’t nice and we never liked you – good riddance.

Likewise storms yet to come – Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake and Katie.

We know you’re coming, but don’t expect us to roll out the welcome mat. You and the rest of your Named Storms mob have done enough damage already.

The long road back

So now it’s the heartache and the clear up. Putting your life back together.

But be careful.

There’s sickness in that water – and sickness where it’s been.

Up to your ankles in the kitchen, even more in the street. With the over-run sewer system four feet below that. Which means there’s poo in that water, nothing about it is safe. And as the level goes down, that yuck is going to be everywhere.

Be safe, don’t touch it, or risk getting it on your skin. Norovirus could be lurking there – or even worse, cholera. For sure, there’s nothing healthy.

So whatever you do, wash your hands if it gets on them – or if you’ve touched anything lying in it. Norovirus spreads on contact – and it only takes a dab. You don’t want that misery on top of everything else. Cramps, runs, upchucks – no thank you.

Wash your hands properly too, this stuff is pernicious. Find yourself some hot water – as hot as you can stand – and give yourself a good going over. Soap and scrubbing brush. Under your nails and between your fingers. Like you’ve got plague on them and you can’t take chances – which if you think about it, is true.

Proper hygiene is everything

And which of course means your place will need the same treatment.

After days of immersion in poo, sweeping out the mud and hosing everything down is not going to be good enough – not even with a turbo-wash. It’ll be in the wallpaper and the plaster – in the concrete and even the bricks. Going to have to be brutal.

It’ll be UNDER the floorboards too – in the crawl space around the foundations. By the time you get to it, a kind of sludgy, gooey gunge. Norovirus in there – and all other kinds of nasties. Squirt it out if you can, possibly forcing it out through the air bricks. You don’t want the drama of ripping everything up to get rid of it.

Yes, it’s a health hazard, but if you can get rid of most of it, it’s possible to neutralise the rest with hydrogen peroxide or some other oxidising steriliser.

Misting up the under-floor gap with a Hypersteriliser is a good choice – any airborne germs will be clobbered immediately and the stuff is good at forcing itself into difficult nooks and crannies. Any viruses or bacteria it comes in contact with will be dead in around 40 minutes.

Likewise any mould. The hydrogen peroxide won’t physically get rid of it, but it will kill it dead – you can tell in two ways. It won’t be that horrible black any more, but a pale grey. And whatever smell there might be – if it’s anything organic – will have disappeared.

That hydrogen peroxide mist will work well in the rest of the house too – especially at getting rid of the smell. But remember it’s only a vapour – actually a super-vapour called a plasma, which is why it’s so effective. But it won’t physically clean or scrub, so any smells could come back when the stuff wears off after a week or so.

It pays to be thorough

To do the job properly, you’ve got to chuck away all the carpets, lino, wallpaper and plaster so you can scrub down with disinfectant right to the bare walls and floor. Your place won’t look pretty, but at least it will be safe. Mist it up again with hydrogen peroxide and chances are good any smell is gone permanently.

The no-smell thing is important, because that means any microbial action has been stopped – there are no more germs breeding in there to come and get you. If the smells come back it either means you missed a bit and the germs break through when the hydrogen peroxide wears off – or the place isn’t fully dry and mould is reforming. Another mist-up will give you a quick fix, but the real answer is to get down and dirty all over again – this time, with a more eagle eye.

Look after yourself while you do all this, because don’t forget you ARE exposing yourself to germs – and nasties like norovirus are airborne as well coating everything, so you could by mischance breathe some in. To be really safe, Public Health England have this excellent guide – useful and easy step-by-step stuff anyone can follow.

There, all done – and well done you. A real schlep, but you don’t want anyone coming down with anything serious on top of all the other setbacks.

Welcome back to the land of the living.

Why that festive bulge might never shift, ever

Festive inches
Slimmer and slimmer –
those chances of knocking the pounds off

It’s not exactly your fault if you can’t shift those inches. That bulge is not good.

Because you’re not normally a greedy-guts, are you?

Sure, lots of good food all at once is a temptation. Bulge-aceous bounty!

You’re not to blame for that either. We’re hard-wired to like certain tastes. And when they all arrive together we go into overload. It looks good, it smells good, it tastes good. Oops!

Goodtime overload

We don’t need all that food, but the mind is playing tricks. Without even realising it, a sensory tsunami takes us over.

Yeah we’ve eaten too much and we can feel it. Our gut feels uncomfortable.

More accurately, our friendly gut bacteria – the ones who do all the heavy lifting of digestion – send signals to the brain that we’ve had enough. They start processing like crazy – all 100 trillion of them.

But the brain’s not receiving – tripping out on ANOTHER plate of profiteroles and sherry trifle, with custard and extra cherries.

All that food on hold, waiting for digestion – nothing else for it, push it out to fat. Bulge, bulge.

Except that more and more of us are finding, we can no longer gym it off. Our bacteria aren’t able to bring our systems back to where they were before.

“It must be something we ate!”

You betcha, it is. Only we don’t know we’ve eaten it – or that we’ve been eating it steadily since knee high to a grasshopper.

No, it’s not a friendly something. But these days, it’s in pretty well everything we eat. Vegetarians might get away with lesser exposure, but ALL of us are ingesting this stuff with just about every meal we have – and most things we drink.

The bad good guys

It’s a something called antibiotics.

Yeah, the same stuff the Doc gives us when we’re ill or down with an infection.

Heavy stuff – which is why antibiotics are only ever on prescription. You see, they work by killing bacteria – the bad ones that are giving us grief. At least that’s the intention.

Trouble is, they kill a lot of good bacteria too. Down there in our gut, where our 100 trillion friends are hard at it – digesting our food, producing protein, regulating our immune systems. Kinda like an atom bomb going off in a busy shopping mall. Lots of dead, even more injured – collateral damage.

Which means all of a sudden, our systems stop work properly. Digestion goes loopy, protein production goes iffy – and our immune systems are out on the fritz.

Except this is not a one-off prescription job. This has been happening all our lives. Little bit, by little bit – drip, drip, drip. Even back in the womb, before we were born.

Nightmare, huh? How can this be happening?

Double-edged miracle

Because back half a century ago when antibiotics were first discovered, a bunch of farmers found out it could make things grow bigger and faster too – plants, animals. Ready for market in half the time – and at half the cost.

Result? Antibiotics are used to grow EVERYTHING.

Right now, today, 65,000 tonnes of the stuff is shovelled into agriculture around the world – set to skyrocket to 108,000 tonnes by 2030.

Uh huh.

Sure the medics are worried about it – Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer in particular. Over-use of antibiotics is as big a threat as terrorism, she says. A new Dark Age will soon be upon us.

Except that Dame Sally is alarmed at the medical issue, not the bigger time bomb. About how antibiotics are starting to fail because bacteria are becoming immune to them. Frightening, yes – but somehow like rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic.

Because so far there’s not a word about the effect continuous ingestion of antibiotics has on our bodies. About what happens as damaged bacteria mutate and mutate – doing less of the jobs they were created for and veering off in unthinkable directions.

The medical meltdown – bacteria failure

People getting fatter and fatter?

Predictable, yes – that’s what farmers feed antibiotics to cattle for, to fatten them up for market. Which is how come obesity rates are 20% higher than they were 50 years ago.

And why the fat disease, diabetes, is on the up.

Animals eat the antibiotics, we eat the animals, the antibiotics fatten us too.

All the time remembering, of course, that nobody WANTS to be fat. It’s neither normal nor natural for the body to gorge itself.

That two-ton Tessie you see chugging Coke and a pile of chips has no idea it’s her bacteria on the fritz that are driving her to do that. She’s forced to believe those cruel barbs that she has no control, she’s doing it to herself.

Dame Sally thinks the same – she even wants a tax on fat passengers in aircraft. Bacteria failure has never occurred to her.

Meanwhile forget antibiotics resistance, we’re looking at a real medical meltdown.

Fatness, obesity, diabetes, heart failure, cancer – and all the other defects that happen as our systems chase phantoms. There’s no typhoid or cholera to fight any more, no Black Death or TB – so the body invents false alarms – dreaming up allergies to milk, nuts, proteins, coeliac disease. We just don’t know what’s hit us.

We have reduced resistance too, just as the bad bacteria are strengthening theirs. We’re becoming weaklings without even knowing it. £50 a month at the gym might slow it down, but we’re all of us on the slippery slope.

Fight back, keep clean

Only one thing for it. Be prepared. Wash your hands every chance you get, so no germs can get into your system, you never get sick.

If you’re worried about keeping your living area safe as well, eliminate germs with a Hypersteriliser. Stay out of trouble and nothing can touch you.

So yes, good luck if you shake off that “temporary” bulge, New Year’s Resolution or not.

Will power is all very well, but it won’t be your fault if it’s weak.

Which gift will be yours: cramps, runs or barfs?

Santa doctor
Nobody wants to be ill at this time of year – wash your hands and you should be fine

Yay, festive season!

Jollies and super-grub. Ripping into gift-wrap and cramming our faces. May it all be wonderful and great for every one of you.

It isn’t always though, is it?

Not so nice

Because those tummy rumblings are not always from over-eating. Yup, from Noel to norovirus in just hours. The twelve days of cramps and misery – and all we want to do is die. What evil-minded soul lucked this onto us?

Actually, probably ourselves.

The odds on it being proper food poisoning are pretty remote. Both at home or in a restaurant, most food is prepared and cooked properly enough so that germs are eliminated. Though yeah, norovirus is highly contagious – and yeah, it’s probably from something we’ve eaten.

Except our own fingers put it there.

That’s the trouble with this dratted tummy bug. Most of the time it’s undoubtedly self-inflicted – a reality we tend to avoid, except it’s true – because norovirus is the undisputed No 1 Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

Because our hands touch everything, right? And most of the time we think they’re clean because they look it, so it never occurs to us to wash them.

The invisible nasty

Not good when norovirus is so small it’s only 2 – 5 microns across. You couldn’t see that, even with a magnifying glass.

But it’s so easily there – picked up from high-contact locations like door handles, light switches, grab handles and keypads. And when you come down to it, when WAS the last time you washed your hands? Some time after breakfast? When you went to the loo?

Don’t be ashamed if you can’t remember, a shocking lot of us forget altogether. Would you believe that most of us never think of it after going to the loo – and pretty well all of us never wash before eating?

Now how about the things you touch that NEVER get washed, or never seem to – grab-rails on buses and trains, escalator handrails, just about anything walking down the street – even the inside of your own gloves.

Oops! But our hands don’t LOOK dirty, so we take a chance without knowing it. And the norovirus transfers when we touch our face – which we do 3 or 4 times a minute without thinking – or when we grab a pretzel, piece of stollen or turkey drumstick.

Don’t want the bug – or the cramps? Wash your hands whenever you think of it and you’ll probably be OK.

Second nasty

A word of caution though, about the turkey drumstick.

Gnawing on it at table is probably OK – but turkey needs care in preparation, like any poultry.

That’s because most birds are naturally colonised with a bacterium called campylobacter. It’s harmless to them, but to us humans it’s a villainous carbon copy of norovirus – brings on the cramps, the vomiting and the diarrhoea – exactly what none of us need in the festive season.

Fortunately campylobacter is destroyed by cooking. When that bird is a delicious golden brown, all trace of the bug is gone.

There is a but. Which is that it spreads easily from uncooked meat, so that knives, chopping boards, plates – and of course hands – are easily contaminated during preparation. Wash everything thoroughly and the problem goes away.

Seasons greetings!

So now you’re safe. All set to enjoy every second of the celebrations.

We wish you a very happy and pleasant time – and all the very best for the coming New Year.

With any luck, somebody will give you a nice-smelling soap as a thoughtful reminder.

Go well, and don’t over-eat!

Why that super-fit bod is going to get fat

Fortune teller
The future’s not looking good – unless we act NOW

Not healthy, right?

Neither is asthma, TB, or coeliac allergy. The possible alternatives if you don’t suddenly balloon.

Yeah, yeah – we’re banging on about this a bit hard this week, but blame it on Dame Sally.

Boss doctor lays it on the line

That’s Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, who recently pointed to obesity as being a national threat worse than terrorism – exactly the same as she said about antibiotics resistance only a few years ago. Our super-drugs aren’t working, so super-bugs are killing people.

The thing is though, that these two threats are linked – except Dame Sally doesn’t seem to think so. Her mind-set suggests obesity is self-inflicted and that people largely bring it on themselves – the burger/pizza mentality.

Why else would she suggest a “Fat Tax” for overweight airline passengers? It’s their lack of self-discipline and laziness that makes them the way they are, therefore they should pay.

The real culprit

Yeah, except Dame Sally, fat people are not necessarily the bio-criminals you think they are. Go back to your other worse-than-terrorism threat, antibiotic resistance – and the common denominator is antibiotics.

You’re worried about over-use of antibiotics – causing bacteria to resist them. They no longer work as life-savers, so modern medicine becomes impossible – people die on the operating table.

Not wrong, though it brushes aside WHY antibiotics are over-used.

Yes, doctors prescribe them more often than they should, but it’s agriculture that gets through industrial levels of the stuff – 420 TONNES a year in the UK and counting.

Sure, sure, it’s supposed to be for veterinary reasons, to keep animals healthy. But every farmer since 1946 – when the first batch of super-chicks was produced – has it emblazoned on his profit and loss ledger that antibiotics fatten up animals so they earn more for market. Profit, profit, all the way.

Yeah, so there’s antibiotics in the stuff they sell – and biologically, people are animals too.

Fat pills

Which means pretty well anything they buy at the supermarket has antibiotics to some level or other. Whatever customers eat, their bodies bulk up – just like cattle and pigs and chickens. Exactly like taking pills to make them fat, only they don’t know it.

Suddenly puts our rocketing obesity epidemic into a new perspective, doesn’t it?

Not couch potatoes pigging out, but ordinary Annes and Cynthias being MADE FAT by the carefully chosen and supposedly healthy meat and two veg they make for their families. Their bods are cruelly gone and no wonder – drip-drip antibiotics all their lives, it’s a wonder they’re not bigger.

Going vegetarian doesn’t help much either. Despite the early morning jogs, Dame Sally, your own raw vegetables – organic or not – are just as likely to be laced with antibiotics from the manure used to grow them. How do you like your amoxicillin and tetracycline? Your bod’s at risk too.

Pincer threat

Worse than terrorism?

Well yes, a lot more people are at risk – thousands and thousands of them. Trapped in an antibiotic pincer movement. Antimicrobial resistance on the one side – damage and aberrations in the body’s microbiota system on the other.

Because that’s what antibiotics do, they kill and maim resident bacteria, upsetting the balance, triggering the urge to over-eat, or glitching other functions. Where else do we suddenly get all these allergies that never existed 20 years ago? Phantoms and false alarms triggered by the immune system going on the fritz.

Which means we have to be doubly careful if we all want to survive in the future.

If antibiotics don’t work, we could die from a paper cut. And being fat opens the door to other problems like cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout.

And those are just for starters. With the immune system out of balance we are shadows of what we used to be. Weakened defences, lowered resistance, more susceptibility to disease and infection.

All happening just as our reliance on miracle drugs is coming to an end.

Yes, worse than terrorism, Dame Sally – both of them.

A way out

So what can we do?

Well, as England’s CMO, you need a big stick to enforce cut-backs on antibiotics – not just in medicine, but in the world of Big Ag. If DEFRA and the FSA don’t listen, you’ll have to go in swinging.

For the rest of us – not much we can do until the farmers get their act together without antibiotics, so the best is probably to go vegetarian and grow our own – without fertiliser. At least we’ll know what we put in our mouths is safe.

As for our lowered defences and increasing vulnerability, Dame Sally you’re right again – we need to rediscover hygiene.

To go back to basics like washing hands before we do anything. To clean and disinfect everything before we use it – even to sterilising our surroundings, making the air we move in and breathe secure and safe.

Gonna be a long, hard road though.

The only way to a strong, fit bod involves sweat.

Obese? Surprise, surprise – we’re all on fatteners

Sad and fat
You never asked to be big –
it’s not your fault either

The do-gooders are always telling us.

The ones who aren’t fat themselves – yet.

They don’t face the jeers and insults – or the misery of staring in the mirror and feeling ashamed.

Everyone gets a chance

Yeah? Well the good news is, they’re going to get theirs.

One day soon, THEY WILL BE FAT TOO.

And like us, they’ll wonder how the hell it happened.

How they could go from good healthy living – walking the mile from the bus to the office and back every day, just an hour of TV a night, no fast-food except on Saturdays, three times a week at the gym, always a walk on Sundays – and suddenly they’re size 18.

It can happen – and it will.

Because however hard we try, more and more of us are getting overweight every day.

Half of us are already there – the number of us fatties has pretty well trebled since the 1980s.

By rights, we should only tip the scales at 65 kg. Fat chance of that now, we’re more than likely weighing in at 70 kg – and that’s without the largeness factor.

Go back to the 50s, and it becomes even worse. Your average bloke weighed 11 stone 6 (72 kg) with a waist of 34 inches. Today he’s 12 stone 6 (78 kg) with a waist of 37 inches – a real porker alongside David Beckham at 74 kg and 32 inches.

In the beginning

So what happened in the 50s? What was it that triggered our unhappy habit of putting on weight like crazy – when we weren’t even close to scoffing ourselves?

One word – antibiotics.

Not for medicine or fighting disease, but for shovelling into farm animals.

Because it made them grow faster. Bigger, fatter, quicker.

Sound familiar?

Exactly what’s happening to us. Bulking up from chemicals that force our gut bacteria to absorb more calories, the root cause of obesity.

BANG! Jackpot!

Ramping up more and more and more as farmers realised the profit potential – and high-tech, high intensity production took over farming across the board – beef, dairy, mutton, pork, poultry, fish and even plant crops.

Today, round the world, agricultural use of antibiotics tops 65,000 tons a year.

And right there, we’re screwed.

Because however we fill our supermarket trollies, everything’s loaded with antibiotics. Lamb from New Zealand, check. Oranges from Israel, check. Chicken from Norfolk, check. Tomatoes from Spain, check.

The stuff is in all the food we eat, though we don’t know it. In our water too, as the animals poo to enrich the soil, and the ground water winds up in our taps.

Eat, eat, eat

What happens to us is the same as the animals. Some of our gut bacteria gets killed, some of it gets modified. We extract more calories out of the same food and become more efficient at absorbing it. Ever wondered why you get so big but your poo remains the same?

Worse, the switches that tell us when to stop eating get over-ridden. We chomp like there’s no tomorrow. Forget all the baloney about will-power and lifestyle – we become eating machines, just like the farmers force their pigs and chickens to be.

What’s that you say? Antibiotics were banned to EU farmers in 2006?

Quite right, they were – but only for growth promotion. Veterinary use to prevent illness is still permitted. Only on prescription.

Yeah, right.

So what happens when animals are herded so close together that sanitary conditions are nearly impossible? Careful with that, it’s a breeding ground for epidemics. Better pump in the antibiotics just to be safe. Strictly medicinal. Looks good on the brochure too – the healthiest pigs in Britain.

Every mouthful we take, right?

Every day of our life since birth. Not our fault at all, we had no say in it.

The Mac factor

Oh sure, we shouldn’t pig out on burgers – at 540 calories in a Big Mac, we know that already.

Except a Big Mac is not the junk food the do-gooders would have us believe it is. Yes, it’s loaded with calories, one of the best power foods on the planet. In the poor countries of the world, it’s about the best nutritional boost any starving kid could be rescued by.

The best value for money too. Which is why The Economist magazine created the Big Mac Index – a light-hearted look at real money values around the world, because it’s available everywhere.

We shouldn’t worry though. Saying a Big Mac will make us fat is like saying we’ll get pregnant from kissing. It takes a lot of Big Macs – and a lot of kissing – to achieve the reality.

Plus, don’t forget – the do-gooders eat the same food we do. So it’s only a matter of time before they’re fat just like us. Serve ‘em right for ignoring the evidence in front of their face – that fatteners for animals fatten us too.

Avoidance

So what can we do?

Not a lot, everything coming at us is loaded.

But we can avoid it.

The heck with the price tag, switch to organic food. Not the designer stuff that’s been wee’d on by celebrities – the real products that are labelled “Antibiotics Free” or similar. Choose bottled water, stuff you can check comes from a pure source.

If you have to buy regular food, the only thing is to boil it to hell and gone – 30 minutes at least, but then you’ll know it’s safe. Be sure to chuck away the broth though, you’ve only boiled it out, you haven’t got rid of it. Yeah, the food tastes crummy, but what can you do?

Believe it or not – a poo transplant could work. Sounds a bit sordid, but swapping faeces with someone not affected by obesity can change the composition of bacteria in our own gut and set them straight again. There is even a way to do it ourselves.

Now for the first time, all those weight reducing ideas stand a chance of working. With the fatteners gone, we should really see some results.

About time too.

With apologies to anyone already embarrassed by it, who wants to go through life looking like a whale?

Why we’re all antibiotics junkies and it’s killing us

Beautiful mouthful
Open wide. Your next antibiotic fix is ready

We’ve all got the habit – but never even realise it. No idea we’ve been mainlining on the stuff all our lives – right from that first twinkle in our mothers’ eye.

Addicts? Chronic habitual users, more like.

And yes, we do feel cravings. Some of us more than others, depending on how far we’re gone.

A lifetime of abuse

We’re easy to spot. Not from the sunken face, deathly colour or shrunken bodies. Quite the opposite.

Most of us are rosy-cheeked, full of life and decidedly chubby. More advanced cases are bigger, flabbier, seriously overweight. At the very worst, clinically obese.

Yeah well, bigger, better, fatter is what antibiotics do.

Ask any farmer.

Put antibiotics in any animal’s food and they bulk up – grow faster, bigger, heavier, often in half the time. Stuff like lasalocid or salinomycin for feed conversion, bambermycin to bulk up cattle and poultry, monensin for cattle and sheep, or virginiamycin and bacitracin for growth among poultry.

Banned of course, since 2006. The EU outright recognised that over-use was creating superbugs untreatable by antibiotics, so all non-therapeutic treatment was made illegal.

Uh huh.

Because it doesn’t look like UK agriculture got the memo. Banned maybe, but use of antibiotics on British farms rose from 350 tonnes in 2009 to 420 tonnes in 2013.

Not exactly enforced, is it? Not enough budget to police the job apparently.

Why we get fat

Now here’s the inconvenient bit – humans are animals too.

Just like animals, human gut bacteria respond to antibiotic exposure – with the same kind of results.

And all those animals are part of the human food chain. Beef, mutton, pork, poultry and fish are on everyone’s regular diet. Good healthy meat maybe, but laced with a lifetime’s feeding on antibiotics.

Which means there’s antibiotics in OUR systems too. Not a lot maybe, 10 micrograms per meal or less. But every single day – 365 days a year, throughout our whole life time – and even in the womb.

Well sure, Mum has to eat too doesn’t she? And her system nurtures her baby’s. What happens to her gut bacteria is mirrored in her growing embryo.

And there’s no escape, even if she’s vegetarian.

Animal poo makes manure, which feeds the soil, so their antibiotics wind up in the plants that grow in it. But antibiotics get used in plants anyway, to keep crops healthy and free from disease – old favourites streptomycin and tetracycline are widely used everywhere.

Yeah, and in your drinking water too. Drained from the soil, to the rivers, to the reservoirs, to the kitchen tap. Or from insufficiently processed waste water treatment. All those medicines flushed down the loo, come back to haunt us.

You got it. Every mouthful we take, food or drink, contains traces of antibiotics.

Thermo-nuclear tummy

Any idea what that does to your gut bacteria?

Well if the Doc gives you antibiotics to treat some bug, it’s a bit like a nuclear explosion going off in your tummy. Lots of dead and dying bacteria – some of them bad guys, but a lot of good ones too. Killed, maimed, or knocked so out of kilter they start going rogue.

Ever had the runs after antibiotics? Now you know why.

Meanwhile of course, you’re still getting low level doses with every mouthful. After the big bang, the terror war continues.

Not good. Because ordinarily your gut bacteria help you digest food, produce proteins, and even help regulate your immune system.

Except now digesting food has gone a bit squiff. The body absorbs more than it should, gets rid of less. The trigger that says “I’ve eaten enough,” stops working. And just like animals, we bulk up.

And not just some of us. It’s beginning to look like ALL of us – already more than a quarter and growing.

Yeah OK, so some of it is life-style – the couch potato gluttony that glossy magazines for thin people accuse us of. But we’re not naturally like that – and nobody in their right mind wants to be super-fat.

Some of us are safe – for the moment. Others are unlucky and their systems run amok – pigging out on sweets, fizzy drinks, cakes and power food like quick-charge burgers and pizza – the snowball effect of a lifetime’s antibiotics. Getting fatter, faster and hating every second.

Dying for it

Which is where the killing bit comes in.

Getting fat challenges the system in other ways. Asthma, tuberculosis, type 2 diabetes – life-threatening conditions if not controlled. No crash diet in the world can fix those – how DO you fix a system that’s running wild and crazy?

Even phantoms get in on the act. With gut bacteria out of order, the body invents ailments which aren’t there. Food allergies, pollen reactions – the perils of anaphylactic shock. Nothing’s really wrong with us, but we can die anyway.

All thanks to the miracle medicine the Doc is now withholding from us to take down our latest infection problem. Antimicrobial resistance is the worry – the fear that whatever antibiotic we’re prescribed won’t work because the superbugs are immune to it.

A bit late now, isn’t it?

We’re already on antibiotics – have been all our lives. Which is why we’re weaker, less resilient and more prone to illness than at any time in our history – possibly even why we’re sick in the first place.

Yeah, antibiotics. Think they won’t kill us?

They’re already doing that.

The heck with superbugs, antibiotics make you fat

On the scales
No we’re not unhealty, our body bacteria are glitched

Forget the guilt trip, we’re not to blame.

At least most of us aren’t – even though, officially, Britain is Top of the Fat Pops of Europe – with more than a quarter of us already obese, and more than half of us definitely overweight or tending that way.

Not our fault

Yeah, admittedly there are SOME of us who do overindulge. Unhealthy eating, gorging ourselves. But not everyone’s into deep-fried Mars bars – even though we’re most of us a bit tubby.

We weren’t always like this, were we?

And while our modern lifestyle of going by car to our desk jobs, downing fast food and platzing out as couch potatoes in front of the TV doesn’t help, stress doesn’t help either. How many of us have sleepless nights worrying about our jobs, security, social image or love life?

No, not everyone’s into comfort food – in fact it’s more of a wonder we don’t waste away to nothing with all those anxieties going round in our head.

You are what you eat, the authority figures tell us – and yes, they’re right.

But they’re not exactly open with the truth about that – mostly because even THEY don’t know.

Awkward secrets

They actually don’t know that every mouthful we take – food or liquid – includes traces of antibiotics. That eggs, bread, meat, or even a glass or milk is likely to contain as much as 25 micrograms of tetracycline or something similar.

Why?

Because every day since agricultural researchers first fed streptomycin to reduce losses of cage-reared chickens back in 1946 – antibiotics have demonstrated the most unusual side-effect of rapid weight-gain, almost double in half the time, for ALL animal production.

Fast-forward to the 70s and 80s, with farmers hard-pressed to stay in business. Now antibiotics start being used on an industrial scale – 400 tons a year and more. They protect livestock crammed together in over-crowded and unhygienic conditions – AND bump up their weight faster, ready for market.

It’s an unbeatable money-maker. The big-time jackpot. So as agriculture ramps up into new high-tech intensive methods, antibiotics are added to the feedstuffs for everything – beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, lambs, sheep, chickens, turkeys – even fish like salmon.

No escape

Ah, so you’re vegetarian!

Don’t think you can escape that easily, antibiotics are used for plant culture too – streptomycin and oxytetracycline for fruit orchards and grain production, of course. And you bet – especially for big earners like crops for fuel ethanol and liquor distilling.

Antibiotics get into the soil too. Fertiliser from livestock, or pushed through from plants. The soil affects the ground water, so the stuff gets into everything else. Rivers, streams, reservoirs – and of course, your kitchen tap.

All of which means that whatever you eat or drink, every mouthful adds another micro-dose of antibiotics to your system. Every day, drip-drip-drip, a little more.

Your body bulks up – until one day, you look in the mirror and realise you’re a bit chubby, maybe even more than a bit. Not size 14 any more, most likely struggling for an 18.

No, no, no! You don’t want obesity or anything that goes with it. Not high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, strokes or other heart problems. Not depression, low self-esteem, anxiety or body rejection either.

So how can you avoid this constant dosing by fat-producing antibiotics?

Two chances

JAM or brute force.

JAM Is Just Add Money. Stop buying ordinary meat and veg and go for the organic stuff.

Yes, it does cost a good bit more, which takes deep pockets. But at least with organic, the farmers undertake not to use artificial anything, which should include antibiotics – but could be a bit iffy with cow manure from unchecked sources.

Always a bit iffy anyway, that “organic” label. Like how do we know everything doesn’t all come from the same place but with different stickers. It happens with sandwiches, so why not organic foods?

Brute force is exactly that. Boil those antibiotics out of existence,

You could get really thin doing this, which will certainly fix any weight problem. It won’t do you much good otherwise though, because antibiotics aren’t alive like bacteria – you can’t scald or oxidise them them to death (just in case you thought you could use an ozonifier) – you have to boil them out.

And the only way is Fawlty Towers landlady style – to boil the food for at least 30 minutes. You then have to chuck out the broth and rinse thoroughly – inevitably making sure all the food value is washed right out. Not much nutrition left there – kinda like canned foods, which are cooked sealed. All the goodness is in the brine – pour that away and it could be soggy cardboard.

Same with your water. Don’t just boil it, boil it to death. Run it through filter paper, twice. With luck you’ll be safe.

Doesn’t exactly inspire you with confidence if the Doc prescribes antibiotics should you get an infection, hey? Yeah trimethoprim will get rid of that urinary tract problem, but what else will it do?

Skewed body systems

You see antibiotics don’t just kill bacteria, they cause them to mutate. Over time and through many generations, the bacteria and others round them develop immunity. They become resistant in their genes, a quality they are able to pass on to other bacteria of completely different kinds.

Which is how a friendly, helpful and useful bacterium might pass on immunity to a passive but hostile pathogen already resident in the body – its character changes – and suddenly there’s a nasty resistant superbug running amok that no medicine can fix.

Change character? Oh yes. You see, bacteria are normally resident and necessary in the body – they even outnumber our human body cells 10 to 1. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to digest food, extract proteins, or regulate our body’s immune system. Mess with them and the whole system goes out of balance.

Which kind of explains why we’re not only getting obese, but coming down with all these weird allergies to milk, eggs, nuts, gluten, shellfish and the like. Asthma and eczema too. How come now, after all the millions of years of human existence without them?

Body bacteria glitched by antibiotics is how. Defences going crazy at phantoms that aren’t there. Lower resistance to all kinds of things, our bodies weaker and less resilient than they ever used to be. Not helped by so many of us demanding antibiotics for every little ailment.

The super-duper-bug

So yeah, enter the superbug resistant to ALL antibiotics.

Think it can’t happen? There’s a kind of super-salmonella already out there that no antibiotic can cure. About the only alternatives are an AK47 or a flame-thrower.

Or a Hypersteriliser.

It won’t kill bugs already in your system, but it won’t make you fat either.

What it will do is mist up your living space with hydrogen peroxide and oxidise ALL viruses and bacteria to nothing – safe for you to go back in without fear of germs or infection.

That plus keeping our hands clean all the time, and we may never need antibiotics any more. We simply avoid the germs they might be used for. It’s the old way of doing things. Rediscover hygiene.

Now to get the weight off. There’s even a way out from diabetes. Reduce the fat in your pancreas by as little as 6% and your system resets insulin production, you’re back on your way to normal.

Yeah, back to your chic, slim self!

Why pay to keep warm, but not to keep healthy?

Sweater girl
Warmth is even nicer…
when there aren’t any germs around

Winter’s coming.

Cold’s, flu – and all kinds of sniffy nasties.

So what do we do about it?

Not a lot.

Paracetamol, a blanket – and turn the heating up. Ah, lovely warmth!

Bills, bills, bills

£1,000 a year for a two-bed-roomed house. £5,000 and more for the office at work.

Worth every penny, right?

It won’t stop the sniffles – but goodness, how it feels to be human.

Unless you DO have the sniffles of course. Not human at all, however high you turn the thermostat. And so difficult to breathe when you feel like you’re boiling.

Open a window, let’s please have some air!

Shut the stupid thing quick – do you want us to catch our deaths?

Yeah, right. All those germs circling round. In the air conditioning, out of the air conditioning – spread evenly round the whole staff, so they all get a go. Cough, splutter, EXPLODE!

Fat lot of good paracetamol does when you’re feeling like death. Time to pull a sickie. That stuff on your desk can go to hell for a few days. Forget the heating, time to go to bed. Ironic too, that you’re running a temperature.

Germs, germs, germs

So what about those germs from whatever you’ve got? Still festering in the office, waiting for another victim. Because forget whatever we breathe in or breathe out, we all of us trail around a whole bio-aura of personal bacteria, dead skin cells and body detritus wherever we move.

That’s lingering in the office too. A whole different health hazard to your colleagues – who might have a condition or sensitivities vulnerable to your normal bio-balance. Harmless to you, a possible threat to them.

Plus of course, there’s whatever germs might be hanging around from everyday office activities. Lots of people eat at their desks, so there’s food fragments and attendant bacteria – and all kinds of stuff loitering about in the dust bunnies under keyboards and behind plasma screens – more microbial mayhem for the office germ threshold.

And most of all this stuff is floating around in the air. In that feel-good warmth the company’s paying £5,000 a year to generate. All that money to warm it, but nothing at all to take the bugs out.

Which is crazy, because for not much more than £4 a pop, that whole office space could be sterilised every night – all germs oxidised to nothing by misting up the place with hydrogen peroxide – safe, secure and totally neutral for when your colleagues arrive in the morning.

So what is wrong with this picture? £4 a room (depending on the room size) – around £1,200 a year for the days the office is in use – say, quarter of the heating bill.

Health, health, health

The difference between running a temperature and costing money in sick leave, or feeling that luscious warmth wrap around you in another illness-free day, doing what you do best and MAKING money for yourself and the company.

All it takes is one press of a button on the front panel of a Hypersteriliser machine after everybody’s gone home – and ffffsssssss!

A super-fine all-penetrating mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide spreads everywhere throughout the work area, actively grabbing at viruses and bacteria in mid-air or on surfaces, ripping them to shreds till there’s nothing left.

How can you tell?

Well that two-week old chicken mayonnaise sarnie might still be tucked down the side of Fred Nurk’s desk, but you won’t be able to smell it. The bacteria that caused the stink are dead and gone – the place is pong-neutral until new bacteria start up again. Or Fred Nurk finally sees the remains and chucks them in the bin.

Warm air, good. Healthy air, even gooder.

And yet we never even think about it. We’re not a hospital. We’re not sick. So it never occurs to us about how we GET sick.

Because now we don’t have to. With no germs around, that doesn’t happen any more. No absentees, better productivity, more bonuses, greater profitability.

So why are the brass still moaning about a £5,000 electricity bill?

As deadly as any terrorist, and in our workplace now

Killer in keffiyeh
The enemy within – we never know where they’ll strike – but they will if they get the chance

They’re right here, all around us.

Milling about, following our every move. No just stalking us – hanging on to our clothes, our skin, our hair, the immediate air around us.

Horror in the air

If you’ve seen the horrific pictures in the paper recently, you’ll know what we mean – the spray clouds of droplets and snot violently discharged by an ordinary everyday sneeze.

Germs, right? Billions and billions of them. Gross.

Except what we don’t see are the billions and billions more ejected in the “invisible gas phase” – tiny drops full of pathogens, hardly 10 micrometres across – small enough to spread 200 times further than previously thought, enough to cover any room and reach the ventilation ducts meant to purify them.

Yeah, shocking. We should all carry handkerchiefs. Stop this spread right before it starts.

Except it’s not just droplets from sneezes that are billowing in our office air.

Germs, germs, everywhere

Every one of us trails an invisible but teeming aura of microbes – bacteria, yeast, cells, and cell parts constantly given off by the body. A hodgepodge of good germs and bad, our own personal bio-signature.

All of which are in addition to the germs already in our office – lurking on desks and phones and everything else. As many as 10 million of them on every surface. A seething morass of common viruses and bacteria – e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, cold and flu viruses and norovirus – any one of which could put you in hospital or kill you altogether.

A daily threat just as deadly as any terrorist bullet. And we don’t even know it’s there.

OK, fine – the body’s immune system is hard at it, keeping all these bugs at bay. Most of the time nothing happens.

Until you start wondering why just about everybody in the office goes off sick four or five times a year – always an empty desk, colleagues out of action longer than their holidays – with a sick bill for country of £29 billion a year.

Uh huh. Worse than any terrorist opening up with an AK47. 1.8% of the population out of action – that’s 1.17 million people – and anything upwards of 2,000 deaths.

All-out counter attack

So what do we do about it?

If yours is the average office – vacuum the floors, empty the waste-baskets and wipe down the desks – that’s it.

Yeah right, we’re going to stop a terrorist attack with a dirty rag?

How about we bring in a Hypersteriliser and do the job properly?

Get everybody out at the end of the day – then mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide, so that all those viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing.

Forty minutes a room, that’s all it takes. After which the whole place is sterile. No hovering bugs to breathe or touch – no residual sneezes to take us down.

Every surface – even the air itself – is totally germ-free. Including all those nasties left behind from greasy fingers (burgers for lunch, cream doughnuts at coffee break) on keypads and light switches.

OK, so we’ll bring a whole load new germs with us when we waltz in tomorrow – our personal bio-cloud never leaves us.

But we won’t catch any bug left behind from yesterday’s work session – not even from the unlucky ones who caught one already and aren’t making it in today.

Yeah, take that, terrorist germs!

We aren’t scared of you – get lost!

Why our medicines make us sick and how to fix it

Exercise sunset
You are what you eat –
but do you know what you’re eating?

The way our grandparents keep banging on about it, you’d swear they were tough as nails.

“Didn’t get sick with that in my day, you youngsters are wimps.”

When we was young

Yeah, thanks for that. Doesn’t look like that now though – they get just as sick as we do.

Er, except they have a point.

There are all kinds of sicknesses now they didn’t have back then. New on the radar – nobody hardly heard of them fifty years ago.

Hello Legionnaire’s disease, toxic shock syndrome, Lyme disease, campylobacter, escherichia coli, vibrio cholerae, helicobacter, erlichiosis, Bartonellosis, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantavirus, HIV, cryptosporidiosis, cyclyspora, fungal diseases and spongiform encephalopathy, just to name a few. Sick and super-sick.

And how about allergies? Asthma, allergic rhinitis, peanut butter, lactose intolerance, coeliac disease, yeast, shellfish – all of them chronic, highly unpleasant – and in increasing cases, life-threatening.

Yeah OK, we don’t live the same as we did fifty years ago. People smoked like chimneys, air travel was a once-in-a-lifetime luxury – and apart from fish and chips, fast-food was a fledgling that’ll-never-work fancy.

Miracle magic

We also didn’t have the wonder-drugs – antibiotics. So amazing they wiped out a whole slew of illnesses and infection sources overnight. Doctors could perform miracle surgery – heart transplants, hip replacements, rebuild faces, reattach lost limbs, do the impossible.

Now they’re used for everything.

Got a problem? Hit it with antibiotics. Even, would you believe, for non-essential conditions like acne.

You got it – use and over-use. Fifty years of chucking them down our throats – no wonder bacteria have found ways to build up a resistance. Suddenly our wonder-drugs are not working so good any more.

Scarier still, right now all our head cheese numero uno medics are reckoning they’re going to conk out altogether. What the heck do we do when they stop working?

But that’s not why we’re getting these new illnesses. It gets way, way worse than that.

The answer lies in the soil

Because with all the wow-factor of antibiotics, farmers latched onto them too. To protect livestock crowded together in muddy, unhealthy conditions. And to fatten them up.

One of the big plus side-effects of antibiotics in feedstuffs is that animals bulk up faster on less food – getting to market quicker, at a higher price. Bingo!

Which means for fifty years, antibiotics have been used in food production big time – on a massive industrial scale, currently at 65,000 tons a year world-wide – and set to more than double in the next ten years.

Wow, amazing! All the world’s food supply problems solved.

With the totally predictable but unrecognised result that antibiotics are now in everything we eat.

Certainly in all meat, because they’re in the animal foodstuff. In plants too, because animal manure is the most productive natural manure. And in the soil, leaching down from the manure. Into the aquifers and watercourses – pretty well every river and stream in the country.

Uh huh.

One brutal and awkward fact staring at us right there.

The everyday dose

Whoever we are, man, woman or child – anywhere throughout the UK – WE ALL CONSUME ANTIBIOTICS DAILY as part of our regular diet. Carnivores, vegetarians – no exceptions. They’re even in the water we drink.

How can we tell?

Well here’s another change that’s happened over the last fifty years.

We’re all getting fat.

Check your own waistline. Right now two-thirds of adults and a quarter of children are overweight or obese.

Oh yummy. Which puts us all in line for heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, cancers, depression and anxiety.

The medics reckon it’s sedentary lifestyles, low exercise and high fat diets. Yeah, maybe.

But the elephant in the room is what farmers have already discovered – and been mainlining into their animals for fifty years.

Antibiotics make metabolisms bulk up. “Antimicrobial growth promoters” they call them – basically super-fatteners – like the wicked witch used on naughty children in fairy tales.

And traces of antibiotics have been in every mouthful everyone of us has eaten for the last fifty years. Exactly like we’re being fattened up for market.

Hey, fatty!

Yeah, the things are banned for farming in the EU and have been since 2006. Except here in Britain either the message hasn’t got through, or government and big bucks are conveniently looking the other way.

Want evidence?

Fifteen odd years ago, the family returned here to UK from a near life-time in South Africa. Within two years, our athletic sylph-like figures had metamorphosed into “charmingly chubby”. No, we weren’t eating different foods – just UK-sourced stuff we’d never had before.

And fifteen years ago, South Africa wasn’t using “antimicrobial growth promoters” to the same saturation level they are now. A chicken was just chicken – and a trip to Nando’s didn’t set you up to ballooning into a porker.

Which underlines the fact that antibiotics really do create major changes in the body.

Our innards are full of benevolent bacteria – 100 trillion of them doing the heavy work of digesting, producing proteins and helping to manage immune systems, while we park off with the Xbox on the sofa – Call of Duty Black Ops 3, or something equally important.

Immunity school

It’s these bacteria that our Mums teach when we’re in the womb and while we’re nursing –building our defences for all kinds of diseases we’ll face later in life. The same bacteria learn how to create immunity in our formative years too. Those days eating mud have a purpose.

Thing is though, that we don’t face the same diseases we were set up for in our childhood. Our water supply is pure, so there’s no germs there. We have inside loos and hot water, so we’re a lot cleaner than we used to be.

Uh huh. An immune system with nothing to do – so it goes rogue. Triggers false alarms like allergies when there’s no real threat. A crisis out of nothing. Net result, we’re less resistant than we were fifty years ago. Grandpa was right, us youngsters are wimps.

All these newly antibiotic resistant illnesses don’t help either. MRSA, salmonella, streptococcus, c.difficile, gonorrhoea and e.coli. Even that Victorian illness TB – almost completely off the scope in UK – has found a way to make a comeback.

Yeah, weaker than our Swinging Sixties oldies – and more at hazard because the wonder-drugs don’t work any more.

Hike up our hygiene

Which leaves one line of defence that’s now essential if we’re going to survive. Hike up our hygiene levels so that harmful pathogens can’t get us – we’re not just clean, our surroundings are sterile. No bacteria, no risk, job done.

Which means two things.

Washing our hands before and after we do anything like eat or hit the loo – so there’s never any germs on them.

And misting our surroundings up with a Hypersteriliser, so there’s no germs around us either – particularly in the air – they’re oxidised to nothing by ionised hydrogen peroxide. Bacteria gone, viruses too, safe and sterile.

OK, now we can stop with the antibiotics, though the farmers have still got an issue. Better hygiene all round should sort it – why shouldn’t pigs and poultry be protected sterile-safe like we are?

Oh yes, and no more obesity either – though count on it, diets will still remain a fad. Yes, still the gym, unless we’re sick of it. Yes, still the carrot juice.

But we don’t all have to be Size 12 to look fit.