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

Ew, poo! But what if it REVERSES getting fat?

NOt fat any more
Out of the poo – get your gut bacteria right – and get back the body you once had

We’re all different, right? Fat, thin – tall, short – dark, fair – happy, sad – no two of us alike.

Same with how we eat, how we exercise, how we sleep – all of us completely unique.

And with our tummies – always calm, made of cast-iron, upset at the slightest little twitch.

Go with your gut feel

Yeah well, not surprising really. Down in our gut, where most of our personal bacteria liveover a hundred trillion of them and counting – things are about as different as it’s possible to get.

As long as these amazing communities of microbes are in balance, we’re most of us OK, well-adjusted, slim, trim and agile – lots of get-up-and-go and enjoying an active life.

Trouble is, we’re not always in balance. Check out the two thirds of us who are visibly overweight – or with ongoing health problems that we never seem to shift. Those teeming bacteria in our gut are not happy with something or other – and it shows in the way our bodies respond.

Yeah sure, we can change some things – what we eat, how we eat, hit the gym, take pills. None of them really work, do they? Lots of hype and every now and then a minor celebrity makes headlines with a new-look bod. But all smoke and mirrors most of the time – until out of desperation, we try the next one.

Time to get real

Know that expression, “you are what you eat?”

More accurately, we are what our gut bacteria process us into. That’s their job – along with a zillion other things like produce proteins and regulate our immune systems. They call the shots and our bodies respond.

Which means we are what our gut bacteria tell us to eat.

And if they tell us all the time that we’re hungry – that we need to charge up as fast as we can with quick-acting, high energy power foods – that’s what we do. And if they don’t stop telling us, we don’t stop responding. They say emergency, we respond with gorging on burgers and Coke – deliberately loading super-octane fuel like there’s no tomorrow.

But there is no emergency, is there?

Somewhere, something is out of balance – and we pay the price with bodies that are fat and flabby with no energy. Lethargic and listless – because our gut tells not only to cram in the most concentrated power foods we can find, but to cut back on all exercise, conserve energy, save our resources for some impending high-effort threat that never seems to materialise.

It’s like out gut is telling us we’re out in the freezing Arctic wastes – and we each have to pull ten times our own body weight non-stop for a thousand miles in the teeth of a raging blizzard. Exactly the kind of challenge that would need to stoke up on burgers and Coke – for quick-fix power – when actually all we need to do is stroll fifty yards to the bus stop.

Leptin resistance

So what’s up? Why are our bodies having such trouble?HealthAmbition Link

Listen up good. We’re not fat because we have no will power – our appetite is controlled by our gut bacteria anyway, not our brains. We’re fat because of leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone our bacteria make to shut off our hunger cravings. But something has screwed our gut bacteria so they don’t react to it. The appetite signal remains at full throttle – and the brain says eat, eat, eat – c’mon, get with the programme.

What’s wrong is a whole lot of things, being fat is just one of the signs. Somehow our gut bacteria are not as diverse as they should be – and there aren’t enough of them. Some of our more specialist types – usually it’s the rare ones that affect balance most – just aren’t there.

Medics can check all this by analysing our poo – and see at once that key bacteria are missing, or behaving erratically. By the same token, these “poologists” can also see when the poo of a healthy person is right – that everything is all as it should be – no fat, no flagging stamina, all hunky-dory.

Poo transplants

And here’s a thing. By doing a poo transplant – taking waste gut bacteria from a healthy person and introducing it into the gut of a leptin resistant one – poologists can actually cause the imbalance to reverse, building up missing numbers and starting new colonies of the rare specialist types. FMT it’s called – Faecal Microbiota Transplantation – which in the UK, can be done at the Taymount Clinic or the Somerset FMT Clinic.

It’s getting not to be as yuck as it sounds either. With the latest methods, all the prep work is done in the lab under very hygienic conditions, the necessary bacteria cleansed off and concentrated together in gelatin capsules.  Down the hatch with these tasteless, odourless pills and repopulation begins as soon as they hit the gut.

Alternatively, it can be done at home – though you’ll need to chose your donor well, to be sure of best results.

Either way, you’re doing something positive to correct your gut imbalance – particularly the leptin resistance that’s caused so many of us to balloon to unhealthy levels. Good luck with it, don’t forget everyone has a different metabolism, so results will vary from person to person.

Why we’re all lumps of lard

OK, so what causes our gut imbalance? We’re not all on steroids which certainly can make us bulk up very quickly, hamster face and all. So what is it that we’re all exposed to that makes EVERYONE put on weight? Even the slimmest of us are chubbier than we were five years ago.

You’re not going to like this.

It’s antibiotics – the same miracle life-saving drugs that have made modern medicine so amazing. Yes, in prescriptions for illness, which most of us have had – particularly children these days, which is why so many kids are fat. Administer antibiotics to toddlers before they’re two – and by five they’ll be visibly overweight.

But more than that, we get antibiotics in food – pretty well across the board in everything we eat. Why? Because antibiotics bulk up animals and boost plant growth – and farmers have been using them for more than fifty years.

According to official figures, around the world agriculture uses 65,000 tonnes a year, though governments are cagey about this, given the huge rise in antibiotic resistant superbugs in recent years.  More realistically, China, the world’s largest consumer, puts its own use at about half the world’s total – around 162,000 tonnes.

Remember your twice times? That means 324,000 TONNES A YEAR – enough for a hefty 450 mg dose to every man, woman and child on the entire planet.

And antibiotics do to us exactly what they do to animals – kill bacteria, like they’re designed to. Particularly put our systems out of balance and activate our hunger. So that we’re as ravenous as those factory-farm animals who are dosed every day. They bulk up at four times normal speed – and so do we.

Rescued by poo and hygiene

Ooh, er – so we’re all in the poo.

Well yes, but it could be poo that gets us out of it. Plus of course getting off antibiotics ASAP so we don’t get any fatter. Not easy unless you go organic, or like The Good Life, decide to grow your own.

But coming off antibiotics raises big problems too. No more miracle drugs – we’ve got to bump up our personal hygiene levels way higher to compensate for no more rescue drugs. Wash hands at every turn, keep everything around us meticulously clean.

And with our weakened metabolisms – drip-drip antibiotics in our food have damaged our gut bacteria so much over 50 years that our immune systems are no longer as resilient – we need to make sure our surroundings are as near-sterile as possible too.

Time for all of us to roll out the Hypersterilisers – to sterilise the rooms we live in free from all pathogenic viruses and bacteria. To get us out of the poo and keep us out.

Hoo boy! A crap subject to write about, but somebody’s got to do it.

Keep well, all of you.

Picture Copyright: akz / 123RF Stock Photo

Hey, sugar-taxers! Obesity starts with antibiotics

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

So we need a sugar tax, huh?

To stop our kids getting obese.

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

Good idea, if sugar is the cause.

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

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

Obesity perspective check

Are we naturally fat? No.

Are we meant to be fat? No.

Were we always fat? No.

Were we fat in the 1950’s? No.

Were we fat in the 1990’s? No.

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

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

But we weren’t fat in the 1990s? No.

Sure? Yes.

And we’ve ballooned up since then? Yes.

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

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

Let’s just back up a bit

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

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

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

Whatever it is must be a pretty powerful growth booster.

Damn right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in the balance

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

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

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

Out of balance, out of control

And it’s antibiotics that upset the balance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you tax heroin, would it stop junkies?

So what are we doing taxing sugar?

Come on guys, we got to stop taking antibiotics.

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

Picture Copyright: dragon_fang / 123RF Stock Photo

Low? How your gut feel could cost you your job

Problem girl
It’s not you, it’s the bacteria in your gut – telling you something’s wrong

You are what you eat” is the wisdom of our age.

Gotta eat healthy and well to keep the body in tune. A good, wholesome, organic diet – the flip side of “junk food kills“.

Well yeah, that’s if we are what we think we are.

Not who we think we are

But down in our gut, we’re more bacteria than human – trillions and trillions of them that outnumber our own cells more than 10 to 1. They digest our food for us and manufacture protein – plus a heck of a lot else besides.

Those same bacteria secrete dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – the same chemicals used by our neurons to activate and transmit moods. Among them are gut-feels we already recognise, the uncertainties of anxiety and depression.

Our gut rules our brain.

Some of us tough it out and ignore our fears – plunging gung-ho into winning.

Yeah well – reflux, ulcers, gallstones, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome – do we really want to play those games? Get a little older, and it’s not winning to worry about – it’s surviving.

Others give in and let the blue funk take over. No kind of existence at all, that – hiding under the bed in case something says boo.

Which means, like everything else with our bodies, that somehow we have to keep a balance. Keep the bacteria in our gut happy to stay on even keel.

The other us

Except it’s not just our gut that’s colonised by bacteria. It’s everywhere throughout our metabolisms – and our outsides as well. A cloud of them surrounds us every waking moment, swirling and floating – interchanging with other people’s clouds. Reacting to surrounding bacteria as well.

And not just bacteria, but other microorganisms – viruses, fungi, protozoa, algae – the whole spectrum of the biosphere.

Which is where the balance bit gets tricky – not all of these microorganisms agree with each other, particularly our own body’s.

Mould for instance, gives off spores that affect our respiratory system – the cause of sneezing, runny nose, skin rashes and asthma attacks. We breathe the stuff in and our own bacteria reacts – the whole community, including down in the gut.

Bing! New chemicals are produced in response, signalling to the brain: it doesn’t feel good here, get out, get away – things will get bad if we stay.

Feel bad, think bad

And right there is a major cause of sick building syndrome – the body reacting negatively to its surroundings and affecting mood. Poor lighting, ventilation or acoustics, excessive vibration and electromagnetic radiation all contribute to the same feel.

Beyond the headaches, nausea and other symptoms, there is a psychological reaction – the brain responding to gut feel. Unease, dissatisfaction, worsening relationships, and anxiety kick in. All triggered by bacteria imbalance.

So, whoops.

It’s not always us that makes us feel the way we do. It’s the bacteria that inhabits 98% of us, putting the thoughts in our head.

OK, so you go for a burger – good junk comfort food.

As long as you don’t pig out on those things every day, everything should be hunky. Far from being bad for you, a McDouble one of the most nutritious foods you can eat – far cheaper and more satisfying than those good improving vegetables your conscience tells you to choose.

BUT – keep eating them exclusively and your bacteria will make you pay. And it won’t just be the physical things that get you into trouble.

Weight gain, flabby appearance and diabetes risk are nothing alongside the low esteem, lack of motivation, self-contempt and inertia that suddenly claim your life. Your mind is out of it and you have no control – not exactly the way to impress your boss and gain promotion.

A question of balance

Catch a germ that disagrees with you and the same thing happens. Flu, norovirus or e.coli can make you very ill – they also mess with your mind. You’re not yourself, you can’t think straight, you do things you can’t explain afterwards.

So it’s not just what you eat. It’s how you protect yourself from your surroundings too. How you keep your good bacteria in balance – safe from the harmful bacteria outside that are trying to take you over.

Step one is easy. Wash your hands, every chance you get. They touch everything – but like your own body is covered in microbes – so is everything else. Transferring germs from hands to face is our biggest source of infection. Soap up thick.

Step two is equally easy – press a button. The one on the machine that mists up the room around you when you leave for the night. Oxidising all viruses and bacteria with hydrogen peroxide – in the air – on, under, and behind all surfaces – making the whole place sterile.

The thing is called a Hypersteriliser – and your boss can get one any time it feels right to ramp up productivity, keep you and your colleagues healthy and happy, doing something more for your wellbeing than grapefruit juice and gym membership.

That’s more like it!

With no germs to challenge your bacteria, your body is in harmony. The feel-good factor takes over – you’re positive, alive, ready for anything – and it shows. All good, career-advancing qualities.

Yes, your job is safe.

There might even be a bonus in it too.

Why your gut feel could be righter than you think

Pleased woman
Yes, go with your gut – it knows better than you

You’re already familiar with it.

The butterflies in your stomach before you do something big.

A job interview, marriage proposal, or your first bungee jump.

Your tummy talks to your head – all nervous and scared. Kinda natural, there’s 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut – we’re only 10% human really – and their No 1 priority is to survive. They don’t want you to put the body in danger – don’t do this, walk away, no!

Who’s the boss?

Except you don’t, do you? Your head rules and you do it anyway. But your recognise your gut is right most of the time – it’s just that this time is special.

And how often doesn’t it happen that you have to acknowledge your gut feel is right?

How can that be, it’s just a mess of intestines isn’t it? How can that possibly influence what your brain is thinking?

Not what it’s thinking, but how it responds.

Inside the body, different bacteria do different things – and they’re as essential to our survival as water is to plants – a living symbiosis we cannot do without.

So while some bacteria help with digestion and providing the body with nutrients, others have other functions – secreting neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and gamma aminobutyric acid, all of which influence mood.

We know the consequences only too well. If the gut’s out of balance, we experience depression and anxiety.

It goes from there.

Because our own behaviour determines that balance.

Germs in charge

Most of the time we read the gut’s signals correctly. But getting them wrong or ignoring them can land us in big trouble – obesity, asthma or even cancer.

So getting them right is kinda vital. Eat the right foods, exercise the body, avoid smoking and drinking. Sound familiar?

Gut feel always told us how we should live – and now research is catching up to prove we were right.

But it’s not just inside our bodies that bacteria are active. They surround us constantly in a swarming cloud outside too – an aura that is biologically unique to every one of us, infinitely more precise than a fingerprint or a retina scan.

A pushy bunch too, determined to assert themselves wherever the body happens to be.

It takes only minutes for our bio-aura to populate a room. If we stay there for long, all trace of anything previous is quickly obliterated – displaced by our own particular blend of good bacteria, also-ran freeloader bacteria, and bad bacteria – plus of course whatever viruses we’re toting around too.

Incriminating evidence

All this trails around after us. Lingering wherever we’ve been – a tell-tale of exactly who we are and what we’ve been up to – our positives and negatives waiting to be explored by (or attack) whoever comes along next.

Which means if we’re toting among other things any pathogens that may be harmful – though we might be immune ourselves, we leave them lurking for someone else.

A cold or flu virus that maybe hasn’t broken yet. Norovirus from the dodgy stir-fry off that street-vendor – already making tummy twinges and lying in wait on the keypad we used for secure entry (unwashed fingers) – and drifting in the air round the door it operates.

Residual pathogens, waiting in ambush. Multiplied several times over by all of us working in the same office.

Any unbalanced body walking into that lot will be pulling a sickie tomorrow for sure – a real one.

Germ protection

Which is why, though we live in a world of bacteria and are 90% germs ourselves, we still need to protect ourselves from the bad guys – harmful viruses and bacteria in the wrong place – our living and working environment.

Not much we can do all together while we’re working.

But when the day ends and we all go down in the lift – strong traces of our residual bio-auras are still there – a high germ threshold waiting to trap us in the morning.

Except not this time. Because after work, it’s protection control with a Hypersteriliser.

The place gets misted up with ionised hydrogen peroxide – and 40 minutes later, all viruses and bacteria are gone – safe and sterile, totally germ neutral.

OK, so a lot of innocent bacteria might get lost in the process – there are too many to ask which are good and which are bad, and separate them so they’re harmless. Sterile means sterile, which means ALL bacteria are gone.

Not really a problem, because none of our personal bacteria are harmed – we’ll re-populate the rest in the morning when we clock back in with our bio-auras. Ten minutes and there’ll be a good healthy bio-universe in the office just like yesterday. But with no bad guys.

Which gut feel tells us has GOT to be right.

Good germs, bad germs – we need both to survive

Before-after girl's face
Don’t worry, everything’s OK –
just as long as we keep the balance

This whole page exists because we have a problem with bacteria.

More correctly, we have a problem with hygiene.

If it wasn’t for bacteria we wouldn’t exist – and most bacteria are benign anyway.

Yes, bacteria are dangerous. Yes, they can kill.

Most of the time we co-exist in balance – and maintaining that equilibrium is what keeps us healthy.

Bacteria prejudice

Because we’re psyched to believe all bacteria are bad, it’s creepy to be reminded that they’re crawling all over us – inside and out. We wouldn’t last long however, if they weren’t there.

Our whole digestive system depends on them to extract nutrition from food. One of our key needs is nitrogen, which our bodies are totally unequipped to process. Which is why a bunch of bacteria sits in our gut, munching through nitrogen sources to power us up.

So how about the bad buys?

Time to stand our preconceived thinking on its head.

Our whole existence works on the synergy our bodies have with bacteria – a tit-for-tat relationship that most of the time works just fine. But there are billions and billions of bacteria types – and not all of them work best with humans. The soil might be better, or some kind of tree.

Right and wrong

And that’s when things go pear-shaped. They can’t co-exist because they’re in the wrong place. Wrong reactions happen, things get out of kilter and the body suffers – the bacteria start eating or changing the wrong things and some kind of infection usually results.

In the wrong place? Get rid of it – which is what antibiotics are for.

And since we don’t have any mechanism for encouraging these bacteria to leave peacefully, the only thing we know how to do is kill them. Wrong bacteria out of the way, we start getting better – or more appropriately, we return to balance – over the worst, we’re convalescing.

But killing those wrong bacteria can be brutal, with punishing results for our bodies. One well-known side-effect of antibiotics is diarrhoea. Way out of balance, we get the squitters, which the body voids as harmful waste – including the wrong bacteria. Like norovirus, say – or even nastier – gastroenteritis.

Not nice, being ill

Yes, it happens to all of us at some time – and we know it takes time to come back. The body has to repair the damage before the good guys can get to work. The collywobbles settle down and we’re back to normal.

Or take the other bad guys of the moment, MRSA – methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus to be exact. At any one time, staph bacteria is all over our skin – its function, to keep OTHER harmful intruders out. OK José, everything fine.

But get a cut that lets it into the wrong place and boom! – the body has a problem that the Doc has no medicine to fix. Why? Because with overuse of antibiotics for every little thing for the last 50 years, certain bacteria have learned how to resist them. The price of antibiotics-abuse.

Outside our bodies, of course, is another world. Some environments are safe, others have hazards – wrong bacteria, unable to find the right host, so they choose you and throw your balance out.

Again, we don’t have the mechanism to politely tell these bacteria to go away. We only know how to kill them. And experience has shown us that if we don’t get rid of all of them, they still keep coming. So we hit them with whatever – bleach usually – sodium hypochlorite, formaldehyde, whatever might work.

Brutal tactics

Trouble is, we have to spread it everywhere in our surroundings to clobber them all – good, bad together, we’ve no way of telling the difference. Just so long as we don’t affect anything INSIDE our bodies.

Brutal yes, but this is war – germ war. And we have to protect the bacteria inside us that help us live.

Kinder to practice better hygiene. To wash our hands every time we do stuff that lets the wrong bacteria get to us. But not just for five seconds. Properly, to make sure they all get away – about as long as it takes to sing “Row, row, row your boat” in your head.

After all, we’re all in this together.