Being fat is not natural – it’s because we constantly OD on antibiotics

Doughnut girl
Not natural to OD. Those cravings are not natural either – they’re put there by antibiotics

Believe all you like about sugar and junk foods. Our whole lives we OD on the most efficient fat booster ever invented.

It’s antibiotics that make us fat, guaranteed. And we keep taking them every day, with every mouthful, willy-nilly. OD is right.

Huh? Antibiotics?

You bet.

Because farmers found out a long time ago that antibiotics promote growth extra-fast, extra-big. So now they get shovelled into farm animals like there’s no tomorrow.

240,000 tonnes a year at last count.

Not as a medicine – though that helps in the intense but unsanitary factory farms where the animals live.

No, no – as a super-performing fatten-up additive to feedstuff. From an egg to a roasting chicken in 6 weeks. Or from newborn calf to an Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

Our daily OD

And that’s the same stuff we’re eating, with every mouthful we take. Our daily OD.

How come?

Because there’s antibiotics in the meat that those animals provide. And in the manure they produce. 80% of what they eat is excreted as waste – to enrich the soil and provide fertiliser.

So there’s antibiotics in the grass those same animals eat too – and their feed crops. Plus everything else that grown with “natural” fertiliser too. Which means grain crops, vegetables, fruit, salady stuff. Even vegetarians chow down antibiotics. They OD too.

Jackpot for the farmers. A massive problem for the rest of us – literally.

Because it’s overuse of antibiotics in agriculture that’s accelerating lethal superbugs that our medical miracle drugs can’t cure.

And the other headache – antibiotic resistance

If you haven’t heard of antibiotic resistance, you will soon. Because next time you’re ill or have an accident, there’s a strong chance any antibiotics used to keep you alive won’t work. The superbugs are immune – and one after another, our top performing antibiotics are proving useless against them.

Which includes colistin – a drug that medics call an antibiotic of last resort – the one docs use when all else fails.

Colistin is not new. It first hit pharmacy shelves in 1959. And it wasn’t so amazing either – toxic to the kidneys. So it sat around for years, not much used. Which means bacteria had little chance to develop resistance to it.

An old drug, not much used – that made it effective when a whole new crop of antibiotic resistant bacteria pitched up. Take that, you varmint, bang! And people got well.

Being old made it cheap as well. So of course farmers grabbed hold of it as soon as they knew. Right now, today, there’s a ker-chunk, ker-chunk factory in China producing 10,000 TONS OF IT a year.

The 10,000 ton OD

10,000 TONS of our last ditch lifesaver! All going into pigs and chickens – to make bigger, fatter livestock – and bigger, fatter Chinese.

Because our metabolisms are basically no different to animals’. So inevitably we will get fat too, as our gut-bacteria is graunched out of proper balanced operation.

First those antibiotics will boost ghrelin, a bacteria-produced hormone that triggers appetite. Then they choke off leptin, another bacteria-produced hormone that suppresses appetite when we’ve had enough. Ready to OD on food as well as antibiotics.

With nothing to stop us going for second helpings, we climb in without realising. Double ham and eggs, double burger and chips, it happens before we know it.

And just like the animals, our bodies start ABSORBING more than they should – becoming more efficient at extracting nutrients from the food we eat. Except we don’t need that stuff – and we’ve eaten too much anyway.

And THAT’S where the spare tyre comes from – not what we eat, or how much we eat, but what we physically take in. Basically TOO MUCH.

OD antibiotics and OD food.

Not natural at all and a major headache for doctors worldwide. Because one of these days we will wake up and no MEDICAL antibiotics will work at all.

No more heart bypasses, hip operations, C-section childbirths, nothing. You could even die from infection caused by a paper cut. Back to the Dark Ages.

Plus of course, fat becomes obesity – and we’re on the road to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Oops – which means antibiotics are killing us more than rescuing us.

Time to find alternatives. Herbal remedies if that works for you – or a whole different kind of science.  Our money’s on phages – but that’s a whole other story.

Let’s hope it happens soon. Two thirds of us Brits are now overweight or obese – and a third of our kids.

No more ODs – we’re fed up with being fat.

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Obesity and superbugs: our desperate denial of lethal antibiotic trigger

Girl blocks ears
We don’t want to hear – because who wants to know our glittering heroes are actually merciless serial killers?

Desperate because we don’t want to know. Denial because it involves antibiotics, our miracle life-saving drugs for the last 50 years.

Obesity and superbugs – caused by antibiotics?

Impossible!

Because antibiotics save lives, right? Brings us back from the jaws of death. Fix every little ailment whenever we run to the Doc. Turn us into invincible Twenty-First Century living beings. No illness is ever going to get us.

As if.

No longer the angels’ touch

The sad thing is, top medics are already know otherwise and are getting worried. Desperate even.

They’ve already made the connection with superbugs – antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cannot be treated. Unstoppable diseases already immune to our most high-powered drugs of last resort.

Check it out – both supposedly last-ditch fail-safes colistin and carbapenem  are starting to conk as bacteria get wise to them, mostly from over-exposure in the agricultural sector. There’s nothing more in the cupboard.

Fall ill from a simple paper cut now and it’s already possible that no medicine on Earth may be able to save us. Which means keep on with the Harry Casual, happy-go-lucky lifestyles we’ve become used to – and we’re all goners.

Yeah, so superbugs. MRSA, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae and that lot.

Without antibiotics they wouldn’t exist – which means our best-ever, triple-whammy, cure-all drugs are increasingly useless. Or more realistically, they don’t give us any protection when we rely on them. We expect them to save us, help, help!

Fat chance.

Battle of the bulge

Which brings us to the obesity disaster. More desperate than ever.

Yeah maybe, just maybe, medics are starting to recognise that antibiotics MAY  be influential in causing obesity – particularly in children.

Meanwhile, it’s an inescapable fact that antibiotics have been shovelled into farm livestock in industrial quantities over the last 50 years – BECAUSE THEY STIMULATE AND ACCELERATE GROWTH.

In other words, they make them fat. Antibiotics are the Number One growth booster in food production all round the world.

OK, so remember all those scares about how food has got unhealthy preservatives, colourisers, stabilisers, flavour enhancers, too much sugar, too much salt, and all manner of bad things in them?

Pick up whatever you like off the supermarket shelf, modern foods are all laced through and through with antibiotics.

Uh huh. Every meal you eat, every mouthful, contains a sub-therapeutic dose of antibiotics in it – exactly the same growth boosters, administered in exactly the same way, as farm animals being fattened for market.

And we wonder how it is that two-thirds of our adult population are overweight or obese – and accelerating! Desperate de luxe.

Better, back in the day

Worse, we keep kidding ourselves that it’s from not enough exercise, too much junk food or other such rubbish – when all the while, we’re dosed to the gills with the world’s Number One growth booster.

Yes, rubbish. Back in the 50s and 60s, people platzed in front of the TV just as much as they do now – they weren’t stupid, it was cold out there.

They didn’t exercise either – gyms were for weight-lifting freaks, jogging hadn’t been invented and pilates classes weren’t even heard of.

Nor was diet much better. Where do you think our traditions of fish and chips, pies, or the Great British Fry-up all came from? Yeah, it was the War and desperate days of rationing and powdered eggs. But they had burgers and Coke too – just ask your grand-folks about Wimpy, the mooching greedy-guts from the Popeye cartoons.

But THEY WEREN’T FAT.

THEY didn’t chow antibiotics with every meal.

THEY didn’t eat the growth boosters because back then they didn’t exist.

But yeah, they had killer illnesses. Like TB, polio, pneumonia and flu – which in 1918 killed more people in six months than in both World Wars.

Just getting started – the slo-mo pandemic

A drop in the ocean today. Because THEY didn’t face the long-term misery of obesity and all the desperate complications – diabetes, heart disease, cancer, limb amputation.

Desperation stakes for sure – because ALL of us face them.

ALL of us ingest antibiotics in some form or other – a long-term phenomenon in meat, diary, vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, cereals, grains, you name it – right across the food chain.

Except we’re all going to deny it to ourselves.

Our mind-set can’t accept it. Antibiotics are good – they save lives, they keep people healthy.

If only.

Because reality is, for all the good they appear to do, antibiotics are bad – they kill us slowly, they trigger illnesses we never had.

OK, so how many of us are going to die before we decide to get real?

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Forget the EU, what’s your vote on antibiotics, keep or chuck?

Girl with voting options
The real choice is live or die – not worth risking a mistake

Careful how you vote, your life depends on it.

Antibiotics might seem like lifesavers now, but when all superbugs can resist them, they’ll be as useless as sugar pills.

Which is exactly how things are going, right now. Our two major antibiotics of last resort, colistin and carbapenem have already been compromised – it’s only a matter of time before antimicrobial resistance is total.

No more protection against infection. No more surgical procedures like heart transplants, hip replacements or caesarean sections. Get unlucky and you’ll die from a paper cut. Medics are uneasy about their vote.

So if antibiotics are already so far on the skids, why aren’t we already abandoning them for something better? Bacteriophages already look like a possibility.

Food to be fearful of

It’s even worse in agriculture. Where most of the 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics the world produces every year gets pumped.

The discovery that antibiotics boost livestock growth up to four times bigger and faster has revolutionised farming in the last fifty years. Massive factory farms now produce super chickens and super cows. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

During that time, the world hasn’t got any bigger. Still the same amount of land to produce food on – the same rainfall, the same basic climate.

Population though has exploded three times over. From 2½ billion in the 1950s – to 7½ billion today.

All fed off the same land size – but from three times the number of cattle, three times the chickens, three times the sheep, three times the pigs, three times the salmon, three times the feed crops, fruit and vegetables – all thanks to antibiotics. Ask any farmer, he’ll vote for more.

And for the bulk-up, look no further than your own waistline. Not so svelte and trim, hey? We seem to have bulged a bit over the last fifty years. Ballooning up even faster over the last ten.

So big and so fast that medics are calling it an obesity epidemic – and scratching their heads why. Fatty foods? Non-fatty foods? Carbohydrates? Sugar? Junk food?

Mainlining on growth promoters

Meanwhile we’re oblivious to the glaringly obvious – that every meal we eat is food accelerated by the growth trigger of antibiotics. Every mouthful includes a further dose of the same booster that cows and chickens eat. We’re getting fat off the same stuff they do.

Which puts us about as far away from lifesavers as it’s possible to get. Among the killers at the opposite ends of the scale. Your vote might be in for a big switcheroo.

Because obesity has a price-tag. Continual strain on the body causes diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a slew of other debilitating diseases. Sentencing every one of us fatties to a slow and lingering deterioration and inevitable death – 38 million every year, half the population of Britain.

Yeah, so follow the chain. Antibiotics makes us fat, fat makes us unhealthy, a lot of us are going to die.

So where does your vote stand? Antibiotics: keep, or chuck?

Not much of a choice is it?

Not if you want to live.

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Funding for AMR research? Ask the companies who produce 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics every year

Stubborn manager
Can’t afford funds for research?
Pull the other one

That’s right, 240,000 tonnes. The amount of antibiotics used worldwide every year.

More than enough for a 25mg dose to every man, woman and child on the planet. Overuse or what?

Overuse – and abuse

But not just for medical purposes. Not just for saving lives and fighting infection.

Most of these antibiotics are pumped daily into farm livestock – ostensibly to keep them healthy, in reality to bulk them up for market – to accelerate their growth so they’re four times the size in a quarter of the time.

Amoxicillin, streptomycin, tetracycline, erythromycin, vancomycin, you name it – all types that we’re familiar with and have probably taken ourselves at some stage – all get fed to the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion sheep and pigs that feed the world.

Together they account for around 75% of the total 240,000 tonnes world antibiotics output.

You got that right, three quarters of the antibiotics the world chomps through every year are for non-medical use. No wonder we have a problem with antimicrobial resistance.

Bacteria always win

No wonder that savvy bacteria – one of the most successful and longest-surviving life forms of all time – have developed ways to overcome whatever we throw at them. With that kind of volume, they’ve even learned over the years how pass their immunity on to others.

It’s now perfectly possible for a doctor to begin treatment for an illness never seen before, only to find it already has a resistance to every drug in the medicine cupboard. Even colistin and carbapenem, normally held in reserve as drugs of last resort, have been found to be ineffective.

Well sure, global demand for colistin in agriculture was expected to reach 11,942 tonnes per annum by the end of 2015 – generating an income of US$229·5 million – and rising to 16,500 tonnes by 2021.

Result, our defences are breached, there’s no more left in the cupboard.

Doctors are now fighting a rear-guard action and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is spelling the total collapse of modern medicine. No more heart bypasses or hip replacements, no more caesarean births – without effective infection control, this is the end.

The world in denial

So all of a sudden, the clamour is on to find new antibiotics. Not 240,000 tonnes of old ones.

Lord Jim O’Neill, AMR adviser to the Prime Minister, has even suggested that drug companies should be forced into researching them – a big stick to be sweetened by cash handouts and incentives if necessary.

Nice one, Jim. Except with 240,000 tonnes regular output, those companies are not exactly strapped for cash.

At 20p for a single 25mg dose of say, amoxicillin, that’s £1.9 billion they’re raking in every year, just from their ka-chunk-ka-chunk machines going round the clock to keep the farmers happy.

In the meantime, resistant bacteria are growing all the time – and getting away with murder.

Which means throwing money at developing new antibiotics is a losing battle anyway. Bacteria always win – so it could be only months, or a best a few years, before the latest wonder-drug also winds up being useless.

And what happens when AMR spreads to shut down agriculture as well? 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle and 1 billion sheep and pigs suddenly peg off – and the next thing is world famine.

You see, nobody wants to face the elephant in the room. That antibiotics are over. Lifesavers while they lasted, but now they’re finished. Even beginning to kill more of us than they’re saving.

What the money needs to be spent on – agricultural profits and cash incentives combined – is a serious REPLACEMENT. Abandoning antibiotics altogether and developing alternatives like bacteriophages – harnessing VIRUSES to destroy pathogenic bacteria.

Rediscover hygiene

Alongside that, we need to jack up our cleanliness levels across the board. Without antibiotics as a safety net for careless and dirty habits, proper hygiene becomes essential. Washing hands whenever possible – removing all health hazards.

Which means sterilising our workplaces too. To protect ourselves from each other as much as from germs. Schools, hospitals, public buildings, restaurants, entertainment places all need the same treatment. The best way to avoid infection is not to expose ourselves to germs in the first place.

Money, money money. It’s a world wide crisis.

Let’s hope those drug companies wake up in time and stop worrying about their 240,000 tonnes.

AMR can wipe them out just as quickly as us ordinary folk.

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Antibiotic resistant superbugs: back to basics now Plan B no longer saves lives

Space scrubber
The heck with Plan B – without antibiotics, it’s back to the future to survive germs

Once upon a time there was no such thing as antibiotics. No Plan B.

No superbugs to catch if they were resistant. People survived by living clean and healthy.

What kept us alive back then was clean water supplies, good sewerage, proper waste removal and high personal hygiene.

Kids went to school, washed and polished, hands and faces bright from brushing. All water was boiled. And washing got done the hard way – by hours of rubbing and scrubbing.

It worked too. People knew that living clean kept them safe from germs. Dirt made you sick.

Then antibiotics came along and people started taking chances. Dirt might make you sick, but antibiotics made you well again. Doctors could perform miracles without risk of infection. To infinity, and beyond.

Our great hygiene leap – backwards

Fifty years later, our water systems are older. Make that ancient – they were 100 years old in the first place. Pipes have rusted, other stuff has seeped in, leaks enough to fill 1,235 Olympic swimming pools a day flood our streets.

Our waste problems are even worse. For instance, in 2013 and 2014, 1.4 BILLION TONS of raw sewage were pumped into the Thames, far more than before our sewer system was even invented.

In the meantime, we’ve also become careless.

A little dirt in our lives? No problem, antibiotics will make us better when we get sick – wonder lifesavers for everything, so we gobble them down like sweets. And today we get away with chances our grandparents would never have dreamed of.

Except that germs no longer want to play that game. After 50 years of misuse and abuse, they learned how to survive antibiotics. To become immune. To stay alive, no matter what we chuck at them, resistant even to our last-resort triple-whammy specials.

Last resort drugs failure

Today, when all else fails, doctors fall back on two hard-core antibiotics they keep in the back of the cupboard. Carbapenems (actually a whole spectrum of antibacterials) and colistin. Our antibiotics Plan B.

Now here’s the bad news.

Carbapenems are already compromised by the emergence of a superbug more potent than existing villains like MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). Known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), around 50% of people who get it into their bloodstream die.

Very much the second choice because of its kidney-damaging side-effect, colistin is not much better. Chinese researchers first found a strain of escherichia coli resistant to it in 2013.  Not surprising, since down the road is a factory producing 10,000 tons of it a year – as a growth promoter for pigs and poultry.

So that’s it for Plan B, then. What now?

Our horrible hygiene habits

Back to basics, of course. It worked for our ancestors, it can work for us too.

And keep us alive.

Amazing what you can do with soap and water, isn’t it?

Which we certainly need to climb into. There’s three times more of us on the planet than there was back then. Which means three times more germs, because we’re all made of bacteria anyway.  Plus the personal germ clouds each of us carries around with us. And three times more  sewage – 11 million tons A DAY in London alone.

That’s a lot of germs, all milling around waiting to infect us. Waiting for us to get careless.

Which we seriously do, because we can’t see germs. They’re too small.

So we look at our hands and we reckon they’re clean.

As if.

Meanwhile, our reality check is that:

Since we’re that dirty, our workplaces are not so clean either. All those things that never get cleaned – light switches, door handles, touch screens and keypads. Not forgetting our desks of course, with 10 million germs on average, just waiting to have a go at us.

Wash your hands – or else

Puts a new perspective on why we’re always coming down with colds and tummy bugs, doesn’t it? We’re lucky it’s not something more serious. Which, with something like sepsis and NO ANTIBIOTICS THAT WORK, it could easily be. A simple paper cut could be the infection that kills us.

Which is why we should be getting rid of the germs around us too – in the workplace, in restaurants and public buildings, in schools – even on public transport.

You leave home healthy, your hand grabs banisters, strap handles, escalator railings and door knobs.  Then you pick up the office phone, which hasn’t been wiped since it was installed five years ago – and wonder where the tummy cramps came from that night.

So, get rid of the germs if we want to survive. Make it part of the daily cleaning routine so the place is always safe first thing in the morning. All it takes is a dose of ionised hydrogen peroxide every night and the place is sterile.

OK, so if antibiotics aren’t working, there are options besides Plan B.

Ramp up the hygiene and it’s back to the future – saving our own lives.

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