A lot of the time, the cause is our own sloppy hygiene.
Or, a bit more scary, we can also THINK ourselves ill.
Sounds weird, but we all know the truth of it.
Know that feeling before an interview when your body goes crazy?
Upset tummy, unexpected shivers, apprehension and dread filling your head.
It’s not germs causing that.
Or more specifically, it’s you stressing yourself out.
Most of the time, it’s a one-off we get over quickly.
You’ve done the dentist, yes the root canal hurt, but now it’s over.
The relief is so strong, you get the munchies. And the heck with your sore mouth, that chicken and chorizo baguette is irresistible.
But stress is not always one-off. And you mess with it at your peril.
A run of misfortune brought down normally fit Dave Dowdeswell with Type 2 diabetes. Grief, bad luck and business failure all at once – something had to give, and it was his body.
It could just as easily have been an ulcer, or cancer.
Imbalance in the body looks for whatever weakness it can find. Stress yourself out about something and there is always a price.
If you’re lucky, it’s momentary, like the nerves before an interview.
If it stays around long-term, you’re going to feel it more. Like there’s a car crash and somebody dear to you dies.
And there’s not a lot of defence against it, except attitude.
Part of the price we pay for the cocooned and sheltered lives we lead.
Oh yes, we’re softies. That’s why stress screws us up so much.
Back in Victorian times, a death in the family was not unusual. Weaker diets, lower hygiene, illness was more inevitable – especially among children. Living with grief was more familiar. So was knowing how to handle it.
Most of us have never known anybody die. We’ve never seen a dead body, particularly of someone we love. Which is why we go to pieces when we do.
But life goes on.
And it will do so whether we stress or not.
So we have to teach ourselves to handle it.
Not to be heartless or uncaring. But to see reality for what it is, and come to terms with it.
Victorians went through denial, anger and acceptance, just like we do.
But they could live with it.
And so must we.
Diabetes, cancer, nervous breakdown – stress doesn’t care which it is. If we don’t get ourselves under control, it will choose for us anyway.
The mind has it
Which is where attitude comes in.
We think things change, and so do circumstances. They’re big, they’re small, dramatic, life-threatening.
Well actually no, they’re just things. Our perspective of them changes according to our attitude.
If you’re upbeat and positive, you can handle them. Beat your chest and throw your toys out of the cot, they will overwhelm and destroy you.
Stress can be a killer, but only if we let it. And we can all change it, just by attitude. (Tweet this)
Sure, there’s Xanax, Valium, Prozac – all mamma’s little helpers when stress hits.
But think about it, why are you stressed?
If you’re honest, most of the time it’s all in the mind, right?
So the only way to rescue yourself is think yourself out of it.
Worth remembering, that. Remembering well.
When the end of the world happens, at least you have a lifeline.
Ever tasted antibiotics? Probably not, they’re bitter as all hell.
Which you’ll know soon enough if you bite through a capsule without meaning to.
Except, excuse us, what do antibiotics have to do with corporate wellness plans?
Only that they’re why most corporate wellness plans exist in the first place.
And with growing realisation that looking after employee health is a major business objective, corporate wellness plans are already the Next Big Thing.
The wellness bandwagon
Look no further than the new emphasis on physical activity in business workplaces. Big buck outfits put in swimming pools and running tracks, while smaller ones have gyms. Or if budgets can’t stretch to that, sponsored membership of the keep-fit centre down the road.
Skilled staff are assets to be wooed and cultivated long-term. So the new drive is an investment against long-term health conditions like the nation’s rapidly increasing obesity epidemic. Two thirds of British adults are already overweight or obese, marking them inevitably as future victims of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Which is why pretty well all front-line businesses are gung-ho for a “fitness against fatness” strategy.
There’s only one problem.
Yes, we’re all getting fatter, which is not good for our long-term health. And yes, most office jobs are sedentary and involve very little moving around. But while exercise and fitness is undoubtedly a good thing, it often has little or no effect on encouraging weight loss.
That’s because, as Lord McColl, emeritus professor of surgery at Guys Hospital and former shadow health minister told Parliament last year, “It is impossible to be obese unless one is eating too many calories.”
The bitter pill
Ergo, we’re fat because we’re eating too much.
And why, after thousands of years of our bodies most of the time naturally remaining slim and trim, are we suddenly eating more than we should?
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we all do it without knowing.
We’re all eating too much because of antibiotics.
Unless we’re farmers, few of us are aware that antibiotics are phenomenal growth boosters – used in great volumes across the board for food production to sustain our massive explosion in population growth over the past 65 years – from 2½ billion worldwide in 1952 to 7½ billion today.
We think of antibiotics as medicines, the miracle life-savers of our modern age. In reality this is a side effect, now secondary to their main function as growth boosters in agriculture. Believe it or not, 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are shovelled into animal and plant production every year.
Like it or not, that means sustained sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics are in everything we eat – meat or vegetable – particularly over the last 20 years with the introduction of factory farming.
Without any idea that it’s happening, our own bodies react in the same way to these continuous low doses. We eat more and more, beyond when our natural needs and requirements would normally tell us to stop.
So like the animals, we fatten up fast – but with a difference. They are only going to survive 45 weeks, until they are ready for market. We keep on going, not just getting fat but getting fatter – almost accepted as the new norm. So everyday in fact, that there is now an international resort that caters expressly for the plus-sized.
Not good news for corporate wellness planners. Enough to make them bitter and twisted. Because no matter how elaborate the facilities they put in to encourage our fitness, with the exception of the health-obsessed, we’re all just going to get fatter.
The very long-term health conditions they’re trying to avoid are on their way – we’re literally eating ourselves into diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Nor is that the only thing to be bitter about.
With all the big bucks focus on corporate wellness, nobody seems to be thinking workplace health protection. A running track might be great for muscle tone, but it won’t stop a tummy bug like norovirus. Nor will antibiotics, come to that – though we strongarm the Doc for them.
Antibiotics: a living curse
Meanwhile our workplaces are crawling with germs that may never be removed, even with regular cleaning. On high-touch surfaces and in the air – a possibly deadly health hazard most corporate planners are never aware of – and a £319 billion dent in our national productivity.
Plenty to be bitter about – though workplace germs CAN be eliminated at the touch of a button.
The bigger problem is antibiotics. We can’t live with them, and we can’t live without them. They save lives, but antimicrobial resistance from overuse is rapidly making them useless. And they promote growth – bigger animals, quicker; larger plant crops, faster – without which there wouldn’t be enough food to feed us all.
Altogether, a train we cannot get off.
No good being bitter about it though – and at least we get amazing places to work in.
About this blog
Back Off, Bacteria!is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi. Achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed.The only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.
And we’ve been banging on because it’s food production boosted by ANTIBIOTICS. Deliberately added to feedstuffs for their spectacular growth promoting qualities. They make things mature bigger, better, fatter, faster:
To make more money in shorter time – the farmers’ get-rich-quick
To sustain world population increase – tripling from 2½ billion in 1950 to 7½ billion today
World’s most efficient growth boosters
Fatter animals mean fatter us.
Because residual antibiotics are present in everything we eat. If not from the animals, then from vegetables and plants fertilised by their manure. Exactly like them, we get low-dose antibiotics with every mouthful.
Without conscious control, our bodies crave energy-dense meals – the quick charge, fill-you-up satisfaction of so-called junk foods. Not actually junk at all, but concentrated nutrition in easy hand-held form.
But food animals don’t live long. They bulk up quick and go to market.
We bulk up quick and keep going. Getting fatter and fatter – and more and more unhealthy.
The obesity downside
Ten years down the line, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer – we have a lot to look forward to.
And the only way out of it – eat less. Go cold turkey.
Stop eating energy-dense meals, or cut down on them. Choose foods that don’t contain antibiotics – almost impossible these days as everything in the supermarket has them.
But if you have the will power, it is possible to slim down. Possible but not easy. Because dieting doesn’t work.
Which comes back to John’s report. Because John’s organisation is all about bariatrics – the surgical way to get weight off. By gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, gastric balloon, duodenal switch or gastric banding .
Expensive, but doable. And increasingly desirable, worldwide.
Not because it makes you look slimmer, but because it could save your life.
Obesity only goes one way. And diabetes, asthma, heart disease and cancer are all killer conditions. Unpleasant and painful. Slowly taking away self esteem, dignity, agility, mobility, strength, self sufficiency – and after much suffering, life.
Want proof that it’s antibiotics doing all this worldwide?
Take a look at John’s map again. At the places where obesity is the highest of all. Yes, predictably in advanced countries with mass food production systems – USA, Canada, UK and Australia.
But through the roof in the Pacific paradise islands – Micronesia, the Marshalls, Nauru, Kimbati, Tuvalu, Samoa, Tonga, Niue – and highest of all, the Cook Islands.
All places that not long ago were all subsistence cultures – living off the sea and tropical fruits. But now “developed” – with almost all food entirely imported. Food produced in the mass production countries – and laced through with antibiotics.
A few months back we pointed out that being fat is not natural. That normally healthy bodies know what to eat and how much of it – and to stop when they’ve had enough.
But antibiotics override all of that. Gimme high powered food now – more, more, more!
Exactly the same as in the Arab countries. Once simple desert cultures – tough people, resilient and stick thin. Now oil-rich and sophisticated, increasingly bloated and fleshy – imported foodstuffs again, antibiotics in everything.
No easy way out
Shouldn’t we stop antibiotics?
Well, yes – we should. They’re starting to fail worldwide anyway – bacteria developing immunity from such massive overuse.
Except what will keep us alive when we’re sick or need surgery?
And what will keep the animals alive that feed us?
For sure, antibiotics push production levels so high they’re the only way to sustain our 3 times population numbers on the same land area as we had 50 years ago.
They also keep those animals alive. Because the living conditions are so intense, crowded and unhygienic, antibiotics are essential for their very survival.
Take away the antibiotics and the animals all die.
And we die too for nothing to eat.
The only alternative is for us all to eat less. Forcing ourselves to cut down and stay that way – exactly like addicts coming off mainline drugs.
John’s map represents an alternative worldwide. The bariatric option.
It’s not the ABC they teach at med school. But they should.
Dead basic and deadly, it’s something we should all learn.
Because it’s written all over our kids for our refusal to take it in.
Written all over us too – in Large, Extra Large and Extra-Extra Large.
Especially when you say it in the way our little mites might.
“A” is for antibiotics… which cause “B” is for ‘besity… which causes “C” is for cancer.
Our miracle medicines trigger one of the biggest killers we have ever faced.
Don’t believe it?
We’d all better – before it becomes the death of us.
Not what we want to hear
Start with A, antibiotics.
Not as the miracle life-savers we’ve relied on to rescue us again and again.
But as the world’s greatest and most successful growth boosters. Used in agriculture by the JCB-load – to produce livestock bigger, faster and accelerate plant growth. 240,000 tonnes of it, every year.
Back in the 50s, there were 2½ billion of us on the planet – survivors of two World Wars and the biggest flu pandemic ever – which killed more than both wars together.
That was when farmers first started using antibiotics. As amazing growth promoters. Incredibly fast fatteners. Mind-blowing money-makers.
If ever there was a miracle, this was it. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From new-born calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.
But now today, our numbers have swollen to a massive 7½ billion – THREE TIMES more of us.
Except the world itself of course, is still the same size it always was. Which means THREE TIMES more food is being produced off the same land as it was 60 years ago. A major miracle, yes – but nothing to do with saving lives.
All gut reflexes
The mechanics of it are simple.
Antibiotics in feedstuffs interfere with gut bacteria in livestock stomachs. They switch off the reflex that says when enough has been eaten. And more significantly, they cause the animal to absorb food more efficiently – extracting way more nutrients than the 20% they normally suck out.
Which is triggering obesity, right? The ‘besity “B” in our alphabet.
The animal gets very big, very quickly – exactly as the farmer wants.
But unlike us, the obesity never gets any worse than achieving large size. Once they reach their selling weight, all the animals are trucked off to market. Time to get eaten.
Their shorter existence experiences none of the miseries. The years of going downhill, always an effort to do anything, wheezing breath, sweats and flushes, faltering heartbeat, body organs failing under the strain – the unrelenting start of more serious conditions.
Asthma, diabetes, heart disease… cancer.
And there it is, the “C” in our simple ABC.
Cancer. The fate we can all look forward to – because we’re all of us exposed to antibiotics.
Some of it is triggered by antibiotics for medical conditions. Worried Mums and concerned doctors ensure most infants are probably prescribed them several times in early years.
All very responsible and properly motivated, except for one thing. Research is increasingly showing that children administered antibiotics before 2 years of age are often obese by the time they are 5.
So what about the rest of us?
Like it or not, we’re subjected to continuous antibiotic exposure with pretty well everything we eat.
Though meat on sale in UK is supposed to be antibiotic-free, this simply means that antibiotics have not been administered in feedstuffs over a specified period of withdrawal prior to selling.
Inevitably, however, there will be antibiotic residues contained within whatever animal feed is used – absorbed by plants from antibiotics-laden manure used as fertiliser, or extracted from the ground itself.
All animals, ourselves included, only absorb a proportion of the nutrients they eat. Most of them are excreted as waste, to become part of Nature’s on-going food chain for other living things.
A typical cow for instance, only absorbs 20% or so of the food it swallows. The resulting manure feeds all kinds of plant crops, enriches grazing grass, and leaches into the soil deep down into the water table.
As a result, sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics are everywhere throughout the food chain – occurring even in samples of water taken from the Thames. Whatever we eat or drink, we’re getting another dose.
Fatter and fatter
Which means we’re under exactly the same conditions as animals deliberately bulked up for market. Unintentionally – and worse, without even being aware of it – we’re fattening ourselves up into obesity every single day, setting ourselves up for cancer or other major complications ten, twenty, or thirty years down the line.
Forget low exercise or pigging out on junk food – we were just as lazy and indulgent 60 years ago, before antibiotics. And as Lord McColl said recently in the House of Lords, we’re fat because we absorb too many calories, period.
So our real problem is digestive systems that absorb too much, glitched that way by regular doses of oxytetracycline, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, sulfamethoxazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin or whatever else it is that we’re swallowing with every mouthful.
Time to face facts. We’re all going to get fat, it’s just a matter of when – depending on what we eat, in what proportion, and at whatever level our metabolisms are.
Antibiotics equals ‘Besity equals Cancer. No wonder children’s cases are on the up.
Simple ABC, yet how many doctors know it – or have even thought of it?
We’re charging along at full speed in the dark, but who is keeping a lookout?
Hot on the heels of all the political hoo-hah this week, Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance is quite rightly sounding the alarm that AMR needs urgent action. Exactly per the recommendations of his Special AMR Review to the Prime Minister.
700,000 people will die this year from illnesses made untreatable by microbial resistance to antibiotics.
Growth boosters – from farm, to food, to you
But 40 times more will die from illnesses brought on by ballooning obesity accelerated by antibiotics in their food. 2.8 million from obesity itself, 1.5 from diabetes, 8.2 from cancer and 17.3 million from heart disease.
Yes, antimicrobial resistance is a critical issue – identified by England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sally Davies, as a threat on par with terrorism.
But it’s chicken-feed alongside our raging obesity epidemic – already visibly affecting two-thirds of all adults. Accelerating unstoppable from the growth boosting force of antibiotics now present across our entire food spectrum. Whatever we eat is making us fatter and fatter.
Obesity is staring each of us in the face and the damage is already done. Five, ten or twenty years from now we will all succumb to the inevitable illnesses that our condition brings. Killed by antibiotics in far greater numbers than they ever actually saved.
Yes, it’s a disaster on a monumental scale – so great that the medical needs fade into insignificance. We need to get off antibiotics altogether – find an alternative before we all come to an end.
Yes, back to the Dark Ages where the drugs don’t work. Where surgery is almost impossible without a level of hygiene way above our sloppy habits of today. Our only defence against infection in a world without the miracle of antibiotics. Wash your hands or die.
Stop eating, stop living
Yes, away from the supersize factory farms that shovel antibiotics in industrial quantities into the billions of livestock needed to feed our 7½ billion mouths. Less food to eat, less and less and less – not just bringing our weight down, but our numbers too.
Back to the 2½ billion we used to be, before antibiotics exploded into our food supply.
Face it, two-thirds of us are going to die – whether we find an alternative for antibiotics or not. Because without their growth-boosting powers, there’s no chance we can sustain the food production levels necessary to feed us all.
Jim O’Neill describes the threat of rising AMR as a slow-motion car crash – an understatement against what antibiotics are doing across the board.
Maybe when the big numbers start dying, we’ll finally take notice. With antibiotics-driven obesity, we’re looking at the end of the world.
Because big though the issue of antibiotics resistance is, what’s coming is far worse.
And all we’re doing right now is rearranging the deckchairs before we smash into that iceberg full speed with our eyes wide open.
We need a Plan B, PDQ.
You see, disaster though it is, antibiotics resistance – or antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as the professionals know it – is already a side issue. The collapse of modern medicine, yes. Maybe even the collapse of the world.
Lord Jim O’Neill, AMR Review chairman for the Prime Minister, sort of hinted at it in his official paper.
Mind you, he was using it to demand that future medical use of antibiotics be severely restricted – only made available once proving tests have been made to justify administering them.
Ah, but check out Page 5 of his Review – the section on Livestock Production. Note that yearly AGRICULTURAL use of antibiotics is estimated “from around 63,000 tonnes to over 240,000 tonnes.”
240,000 tonnes – do the math. That’s 240 billion milligrams – a 32 mg dose for every one of us 7½ billion people here on Earth, EVERY YEAR.
Small yes, a sub-therapeutic dose, but exactly what animals get in their feed to fatten them up for market – accelerate their growth to super-size, super-fast.
Uh huh. The animals are farmed for food – we eat them – the antibiotics in their systems are ingested into our own.
Which means two things.
Our own bodies could already have resistance to some kinds of antibiotics from the food we eat.
We have similar metabolisms, so in the same way that they get fat, we get fat too.
And we certainly do.
Bigger killers than superbugs
It’s already pretty obvious that two thirds of us adults are already overweight. Which puts us nicely in line for all the ailments that being fat and obese bring – type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and a whole string of others. Slow killers that take 20 or 30 years to claim us. Beyond the radar for most people – including the doctors and politicians who currently shape our lives.
Must be hefty doses too, if it takes 240,000 tonnes a year to keep them going.
So what happens if antibiotics fail the animals too?
Well, living so close on top of each other, any illness is going to go through them faster than norovirus on a cruise ship. Except it probably won’t be norovirus, but something more deadly.
Remember bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – the CJD version of it? Millions of cows were destroyed to keep the disease out of the food chain.
The gruesome fact is that they were going to die anyway. Exactly the same as intensively farmed livestock around the world will do if a superbug takes hold – a runaway wildfire of animal deaths everywhere.
We’re going to get hungry
Which means overnight, no food to eat.
No lunch or supper for 7½ billion people.
Well, not quite.
50 years ago, before antibiotics were shovelled into Daisy every day, world food production managed to support 2½ million people.
On the same land area – in fact, probably less from expanding cities and new towns springing up – antibiotics have pushed that to the 7½ billion we are now.
So at best 5 billion of us are going to go hungry – two thirds of the world population.
Replacement needed – urgent
So it’s not a question of controlling antibiotics, or running round looking for new ones. It’s time to dump them altogether. To start looking for replacements before a whole load of us die.
Time for our leaders to get serious. That iceberg is a lot bigger than it looks.
George Osborne is absolutely right about one thing. We need coordinated global action on antibiotics ASAP or millions of people will die.
Not because superbugs are resistant to them so our miracle life-savers don’t work any more. But because our miracle life-savers are super killers in their own right – far deadlier than killing just the 10 million people a year George anticipates by 2050.
And make no mistake, they ARE killers. That’s how they work. Killing is what they’re designed to do. It’s why they’ve been so successful at saving lives in the past – they kill harmful bacteria that try to kill us.
Trouble is, that’s not all they kill. They’re not targeted that tightly. So in destroying the one harmful bacterium that’s so dangerous to us, they take out other bacteria too. Modifying and maiming others. Collateral damage among the 100 trillion bacteria that naturally inhabit our human gut – not unlike setting off a hydrogen bomb.
Kind of devastating to our bodies, because those bacteria are supposed to be there. Without them we wouldn’t be able to digest food or control most of our bodily functions. Nor would our immune systems work.
Sure, a course of antibiotics can cure us of an illness. But our systems never come back 100% to where they were before. While many bacteria can quickly reproduce themselves to make up numbers, whole colonies of others are simply wiped out. The essential diversity that defends us is lost. We are more at risk, less resilient, weaker than we were.
As for the damage antibiotics cause, we’re seeing the results every day – in the spreading waistlines of our rapidly fattening population. Today, two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese. So are one third of children. And as any doctor can advise, obesity puts us well on the road to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Not just 10 million a year, George. More like 100 times that.
The glutton factory
Caused by the side effect that antibiotics glitch the mechanism that controls our hunger. It switches on, but never switches off – unconsciously we’re always craving food, even though we’ve just eaten. We become gluttons, OD-ing on quick-charge power foods like burgers, pizza, hot dogs and chips.
Of course farmers lucked onto this decades ago. That feeding antibiotics to livestock would make them bulk up quicker. Four times as big, in quarter of the time, all for the same amount of food. The ultimate growth booster. Today, 70% of all antibiotics goes into agriculture.
Which is why world consumption of antibiotics is now between 65,000 and 240,000 TONNES a year. Not our thumb-suck either, that’s straight out of the Prime Minister’s specially requested review of antibiotics: Antimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment.
Which also means George, that it’s not exactly necessary to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to produce antibiotics. At 240,000 tonnes a year, they’re making a mint already.
Now we get to the nasty bit.
Super growth promoters
OK, so those 240,000 tonnes get fed to cows (and sheep and pigs and poultry and fish) along with their daily feedstuff. They chew it around and digest it, extracting the nutrients they need, then promptly poo 80-90% of it straight out again as waste.
Well no, not waste. Manure – rich, fertile nutrition for plants, laced through with antibiotics. Grazing grass, feed crops like sugar beet, soya and rapeseed, fed BACK into animals. Fertiliser for fruit, veg and grain staples like rice and wheat and maize.
Yup, you’ve got it. Pretty well everything that we humans eat these days has residual antibiotics in it. Our share of the 240,000 tonnes a year.
Not big doses, mind. Strictly sub-therapeutic. Small enough for our own gut bacteria to develop their own built-in antibiotic resistance. And of course small enough to knock our hunger switches out of kilter so we all become food gluttons – bulking up on power foods just like the cows do. Four times as big, in quarter of the time. Gimme another five burgers.
Yeah, so antibiotics, George. Not one of your best ideas.
But a replacement for them, now you’re talking.
The topdog medics will probably throw up their hands, but one option might be bacteriophages – using VIRUSES to kill harmful bacteria, the way the Soviets did back in the Cold War. Easier to target more precisely – more rifle than shotgun – easy to mutate in parallel as bacteria themselves mutate to find resistance.
Easy to fund too – just take it out of the profits being used to produce 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics a year that the world no longer needs because they’re killing us. Or at least the diabetes, heart disease and cancer they trigger through obesity that are killing us.
One snag. It takes 12 or more years to develop a new drug and release it to patients. In the meantime, we have no defence – as antibiotics literally become worse than useless.
Hygiene to the rescue
Ah, but we’re not dead yet.
Because the one sure way to compensate for antibiotics is AVOID needing them in the first place.
We can’t get sick if there are no germs. So we need to ensure that there aren’t any.
Right now, our daily hygiene is so iffy, it’s a wonder we’re not dying in droves already.
Soap and water when we can, antibacterial wipes or gel when we can’t. A lot more affordable than 240,000 tonnes of killer antibiotics.
But it’s not just germs on our hands. We need to look at our living space as well. The enclosed rooms we share at school, work, eating out or being entertained – they’re full of germs too. Unless we mist them up overnight when we’re not there – sterilise germs in the air and on all surfaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide.
No germs on our hands, no germs where we live. Barring accidents we could get by without antibiotics – at least in the short term.
Not panicky in the tabloids, but concerned in the financial pages. Not a lifestyle thing but a possible investment issue. Not a problem yet – but going to be.
Because for the first time, the City are taking note. Are they threatened? Are they about to take a bath?
Food safety in jeopardy
The short answer is, you bet. As soon as the penny drops.
As soon as the focus shifts from antimicrobial resistance and the rise of superbugs – to the much bigger problem of worldwide obesity and health degeneration – triggering a long-term epidemic of deaths from diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
A total train smash for the food industry.
Right now the alarm is that antibiotics used in farming are reaching through to the human food chain, increasing the risk of ingesting superbug bacteria – harmful pathogens that cannot be treated by antibiotics. Such alarm is justified – 25,000 people die in Europe each year from an antibiotic-resistant infection.
But the real issue is not even on the radar. Not with government, not with health organisations, not with food authorities or control bodies, nobody. A train smash is coming and you read it here first.
Because, yes, antibiotics are the crunch issue – but not from superbug resistance.
The body fatteners
The real crisis is the effect of antibiotics as super performance GROWTH PROMOTERS on the human body. The antibiotics in our food is making us obese – a problem 20 times more deadly than antimicrobial resistance. 400,000 deaths each year in the EU are directly linked to excess weight.
Closer to home, obesity is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths each year (6% of all deaths in the UK). All driven by antibiotics.
Government won’t admit it of course. Nor the health experts, nor the food industry.
They’re all in denial.
Yet right there, in a review commissioned directly by the Prime Minister – Antimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment – the presence of large quantities of antibiotics excreted by animals in manure and fertiliser used for crop and feedstuff production is acknowledged – alongside recognition that antibiotics are used widely as growth promoters.
Therefore they know, all the way to the top – that antibiotics are present in everything we eat. Picked up with nutrients in soil enriched with antibiotic-laden manure, the common denominator to high intensity farming for both produce and livestock. Meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, grain crops – all are boosted by “natural” manure.
Fatness is a killer
Just like farm animals, our growth is promoted too, in exactly the same way – the daily drip, drip, drip of sub-therapeutic antibiotics. Just like farm animals, we are getting fat – to the point that it is now a national calamity. More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
We eat too much without knowing why – antibiotics have glitched our systems so we can’t stop eating. Which means more than 2 in 3 adults are already a candidate for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other health risks associated with obesity – with staggering implications for the food industry.
The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has tipped over the 4 million mark.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide -responsible for more than 73,000 deaths in the UK each year.
Antibiotics are even in our water too. In one study, run-off in the Thames from manure-enriched soil was found to contain trimethoprim, oxytetracycline, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, cefotaxime, doxycycline, sulfamethoxazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin, ofloxacin and norfloxacin.
So face it, in the not too distant future, you’re going to get fat too – if you’re not already.
Surprisingly though, as far as we know, nobody has ever successfully taken legal action because their food made them fat – yet. But food companies are right to look at get-out options. With spiralling death rates, what food brand wants ANY kind of numbers on their corporate conscience?
Because antibiotics don’t just make you fat. They actually work by killing bacteria. And as we are only now starting to discover, the body is host to over 100 trillion bacteria in the gut alone – inextricably entwined with the digestion of food, production of proteins and regulation of the immune system. We meddle with these at our peril.
So it’s not just obesity. Any kind of damage to these bacteria can trigger other weaknesses or deficiencies, most obvious of which is allergies – the body chasing phantom ailments to its own detriment.
So yeah, count on it. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a stampede. Get rid of antibiotics – maybe get out of food altogether – into something safe, like knitting.
Because yes, antibiotics are there in our food – and not going away any time soon.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.