Wise words. But hmmm – that doesn’t jell with those of us eating like birds in desperation stakes. Sure, we’ll lose weight if we stop eating altogether. And then? A one-way ticket to oblivion.
Eat too many calories, maybe. But ABSORB too many calories, definitely. Extract too much out of the food we eat, and so we pile on the pounds.
But how is this possible?
Unwanted additive we don’t even know is there
Look no further than your favourite supermarket.
All those shelves are loaded with food in quantities far greater than 20 years ago. Well sure, there’s more of us. More mouths to feed – the pressure is on to keep those gaping warehouses topped up.
Which puts the pressure on food producers to grow more crops and rear more livestock. Picture-book country farms have now become massive factory farms, getting everything to market in as quick a time as possible.
Uh huh, you’re right. Not possible without something to speed up the process. To boost growth in a way that makes everything fatter, quicker. From egg to roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From new-born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.
See what a factory farm looks like and antibiotics are essential anyway. Overcrowded, often unsanitary, those miracle drugs are necessary to keep animals alive.
Result. Antibiotics are shovelled into animal feed around the world at the rate of 240,000 tonnes a year. And the tons of manure they make become fertiliser for every kind of vegetable, seed and fruit crop. So that residual antibiotics are present in every kind of food you can think of.
Growth boosters in our diet
With every mouthful, you’re ingesting small amounts of the same amazing growth boosters used to accelerate food production across the board. Like the animals bulk up, so do you. The fat drug makes you squeeze more nutrients out of the food you eat, you just can’t help yourself.
Without your knowing or doing anything, fatness has sneaked up on you to burst you at the seams.
It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s endangering your health. Because pushed over into obesity, there’s nasties like diabetes, heart disease and cancer waiting for you. Our life-saving miracle drugs have become killers.
What can you do?
Not a lot. We all have to eat – but pretty well everything we buy in the supermarket will have traces of antibiotics, continuing our unwanted “treatment”.
One way is to go organic. But while food produced by organic farmers might tick all the boxes, there’s no guarantee that “natural” manure used to nurture their products are free from antibiotics.
Most cows excrete 80% of the food they ingest, Nature’s way sustaining life down to the smallest microcosm. That means 80% of their dose winds up in the soil.
To be taken up by plants or leach down into the water table – so that even the stuff in your tap includes traces of antibiotics.
Will power versus drugs
Uh huh. So grow your own at home. Without fertiliser, without anything. Using only rainwater.
Or just bite the bullet and deliberately try to eat less. We’ll always be hungry, but at least our minds will be razor sharp. We might be fat, but we’re not fatheads.
Let’s save that category for the long list of experts, do-gooders, authorities, celebrities and health freaks who know about the problem but do nothing about it.
So if you’re dying from some superbug illness, the Doc can’t help you.
Miracle drug failure
They’ll make you plenty big though, without even trying.
Because that’s what they do on the farm – fatten up animals big and fast, for a quick buck on the market. Which is why it happens to you. You eat them, you get fat too. Very.
Which is why two-thirds of us are already overweight and the rest are following.
Don’t believe it? We’ve already got ourselves a Size 26 supermodel – and she’s not the only one.
And because so many of these same pills get shovelled into so many farm animals, the bugs they’re used against have become resistant. They are immune. However many you take, nothing happens.
Except you get fatter.
Which is why the powers that be want to restrict use of non-medical antibiotics, or get them banned altogether. The few antibiotics we do have left that work will be overwhelmed otherwise – total collapse of the modern medical system.
Of course, across the EU, antibiotics are banned as growth promoters – have been since 2006. Still allowed for health reasons though. Which with animals farmed intensively 2,000 or 3,000 together in tight spaces and nowhere to exercise or escape their own dung, becomes vitally necessary.
Which also explains why world use of antibiotics is currently around 240,000 tonnes – and set to grow 70% by 2030.
Better believe it, we’re going to get even fatter. With all those one-way disorders to look forward to that being overweight brings – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma. Slow, debilitating illnesses that take years to claim you.
So it’s not just that antibiotics don’t work any more.
Congratulations Jamie, congratulations all, sugar tax is going to happen.
All those nasty drinks that everyone hates so much are going to go up in price, people will a stop buying, everyone will get thinner, yay!
Just like cigarettes
Exactly like they did when a packet of fags cost 7/6 in old money – £10 and more now, more than 25 times times the price. Because smoking is BAD, yeah? So look at the keep-fit celebs secretly puffing away to maintain that super-trim bod. Are we back to the dark days of using cigarettes to reduce weight?
Yeah, but sugar tax works. Look at Mexico. The sugar tax there cut sales by 12%.
Cut SALES by 12%, NOT obesity. Seriously clever.
The highest rate of overweight people in the world and an estimated 10 million with diabetes. Sugary drinks BAD. But nobody ever asks WHY so many people are drinking the stuff.
Know much about Mexico? A hot country, right? A lot of it desert, or semi-desert. Dry, dry, dry – the definition of arid. Tropical temperatures. Not a place to get thirsty. Keep yourself properly hydrated, or die.
Ah yes, and how about the water? Until a few years ago, to be avoided like the plague. Full of noxious organisms and bugs – instant illness. As the Kingston Trio sang in Coplas back in 1958 – tell your parents not to muddy the water around us, they may have to drink it soon.
OK, so they chlorinated it – heavily. So if the pipes aren’t too rusty, maybe you can drink it – if you can stand the taste. Oh, and the local bottled water tends to be ropey too.
Hmm, so a lot of Mexicans reckon it’s safer to drink Coke. The Coca Cola Company has a lot to lose – and it’s easier trust a big Americano company with something when you take the cap off yourself.
So you’re Mexican, you drink Coke and you’re fat. Never touch the water. But you’re not writhing on the ground with stomach cramps – and better believe it, try a hot taco with enchilada sauce you’ll know that Mexicans have cast-iron stomachs.
And they’re obese anyway, including those who don’t drink Coke. But they’re not stupid either, they know the sugar connection. So aside from the big thirst of a dry country, WHY do their bodies crave sugar to such levels?
Why does ANYONE’S body crave food that it knows is not right and in such excess?
Wrong body language
Something’s wrong, right? Because we might not be Mexicans, but our bodies aren’t stupid either. Most of the time the benign and absolutely vital bacteria in our gut tell us what we need and our bodies react according – the brain is hardly even consulted.
Yet obese people crave super sweet drinks and high energy foods like they’re preparing for a major physical challenge in Arctic conditions, even though there’s no sign of one. The body is getting mixed signals, why?
Those vital gut bacteria produce two crucial hormones, ghrelin and leptin – the on/off control for the body’s appetite. In obese people, the ghrelin switch is jammed ON and the leptin switch for OFF is not recognised because something has glitched the bacteria.
So what glitches bacteria? Not sugar, that’s for sure. The bacteria digest it with no trouble, but absorb way more than they ever should without ever signalling STOP, SATISFIED. They’ve become leptin resistant.
No, not sugar. Between Jamie and Westminster, they got it all wrong. Because the one thing DESIGNED to kill and damage bacteria that ALL of us are regularly dosed with is antibiotics.
Antibiotics? All of us?
Oh yeah. Antibiotics before two years old, overweight by five. And average teenagers today have been through at least twenty courses of medicinal antibiotics by the time they reach majority.
But that’s not even the half of it. Kids, teenagers, adults, we ALL ingest residual antibiotics from the food we eat. And guess what? Two thirds of us are overweight.
Because farmers have been using antibiotics to BOOST GROWTH of plant and livestock crops for the last 50 years, ramping up particularly in the last two decades with advances in factory farms and intense production methods.
Boost growth. That means MAKE FATTER.
From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years. And worldwide, farmers are currently using antibiotics at the rate of 65,000 tonnes a year to make this happen. They’re guaranteed to work for billions and billions of animals, why not us?
65,000 tonnes a year to make us fatter – because they’re in the food we eat – unchecked, unregulated and unhealthy. A bigger trigger than sugar could ever be. Pumping us up, even though many of us DON’T have a sweet tooth.
Like how many fat people do you know who eat almost nothing, exercise like crazy, but still stay fat anyway?
So yeah, a sugar tax to fight obesity. Brilliant. Cart before the horse and all that rubbish.
Come on, Jamie, get with the programme.
Because we’re all going to look pretty stupid when the tax comes in and our obesity epidemic lurches from bad to worse.
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 live – over 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.
So what’s up? Why are our bodies having such trouble?
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.
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.
Well we do. Two hormones produced by the bacteria we have in our gut.
The ON switch is ghrelin, which kicks in when we’re getting close to empty and tells the brain to go look for food.
The OFF switch is leptin, which tells us when we’ve had enough, stop eating, the tank is full. And there’s more well-researched stuff about leptin in the link from from Health Ambition editor Helen Sanders in the link below.
As long as these two are working OK, our bodies will be as they ought to be – agile, fit and slim – naturally choosing the right foods, eating just enough, enjoying exercise, feeling good.
Look around though, and a lot of us are having trouble with that OFF switch. Nearly two thirds of us are overweight or obese – and the rest of us are heading that way. Somehow our leptin levels are either too low, or it’s just not doing its stuff.
That triggers the brain’s self-preservation reflex, sending out signals to boost our energy sources. We feel them as hunger pangs and cravings – we’re starving, we’re starving – deliberately urging us to scavenge for and gobble up high-fat, high-sugar foods – the quickest and easiest energy charge to get us going again.
Couch potato time
At the same time the body gives us shut down messages – revert to stand-by, conserve energy, minimise all exercise – squashing any urge to go to the gym, or get up off the sofa and run. So it’s not just laziness, lying there parked off – your body is physically telling you not to.
Meanwhile, we’re sitting there porking out with two 2-litre bottles of Coke plus cod and double chips, watching the latest sugar porn on the Great British Bake Off.
Not good if you want to shift the pounds off. Like going bungee-jumping when your whole being is screaming NO-O-O-O-O! Diet all you like, unless you’re iron-willed like SAS veterans, your weight-loss efforts don’t really stand a chance. Even a gastric band won’t fix the cravings – as soon as it’s off, we need a KFC bucket.
Oops, leptin resistance
So what’s wrong with the leptin switch? Why are we all gorging ourselves crazy, with our hunger reflexes jammed full-on?
Actually, do a leptin level check, and most of us will turn out normal. The leptin’s there to do its job, our systems just aren’t responding. Somehow, they’ve become leptin resistant.
Step forward histone deacetylase 5, otherwise known as HDAC5. One day it might become as familiar to us as DNA.
According to researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technische Universität München and the German Centre for Diabetes Research, HDAC5 is an enzyme that corrects the brain so it reads leptin levels correctly.
Whoo-hoo! Switch off the hunger pangs, back to being thin again.
Well, maybe not quite yet. Researchers have isolated the enzyme – and they’ve tried it out on mice. Works a treat, they lose fat mass and body weight. They’re just several years shy of proving it to work on humans.
So if HDAC5 is showing the way to the answer, what’s the cause? Maybe if we plug that hole, we can make the problem will go away anyway.
The real gut gangster
Because the one cause of putting our gut bacteria on the fritz that all of us share is collective damage from antibiotics. And whichever way you cut it, every one of us is a mainlining antibiotics junkie.
Yeah, we all take antibiotics for sickness of one kind or another – at least one course a year for most of us – more if we’re hypochondriacs. But few of us ever realise we’re actually gulping down antibiotics all the time – for 50 years they’ve been agriculture’s No 1 growth booster for animals and plants. The animals eat them, they get fat, we eat the animals, we get fat too. Ditto for plants.
Which means every mouthful we take includes yet another dose of some miracle-drug deliberately used to fatten produce up. We’re fat because we’re constantly chowing down fatteners.
Another one bites the dust
Actually we’re fat because antibiotics work by killing bacteria. And every hit that winds up in our gut takes out another few thousand. Not good, even though we each have over 100 trillion down there in our digestive system – we need them for all kinds of things, including regulate our immune system.
But dump antibiotics in there and it’s like a hydrogen bomb. And the fall out? Lots of dead bacteria, a whole host of upsets our bodies have to cope with. Imagine someone going mad in the cockpit of a Boeing, flipping all the switches.
Yup, that’s how the leptin gets glitched, just like it does for Farmer Brown’s finest beef cows and chickens. Our appetites are on turbo and we dream of double sugar in the Great British Bake Off.
There’s lots of other things that glitch too – our daily dose of MORE antibiotics sees to that. Which means that we’re less healthy than we were – less able to resist infection, our immune systems under-powered and under strain. Every meal, another top-up.
Antibiotics – angels from hell
Which means, if we get sick, we ought to try to avoid antibiotics to get better – restrict them to intravenous, or a once-off emergency only – beyond that no way, they’ve already done enough damage.
Take that tactic and we must avoid getting sick in the first place. And the only way to do that is up our hygiene levels – wash our hands before and after everything, be meticulous about keeping things clean, wherever possible sterilising the area around us.
At least that’s easy. Hit the button on a Hypersteriliser and a fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide oxidises all viruses and bacteria in any room space – dead and gone, sterilised to nothing in around forty minutes. Totally safe.
Other than that, switch to organic food (no antibiotics) – and start exercising, whatever the body says.
We might be fat, but we don’t have to stay that way.
Brace yourself. Genetically modified foods are back in town.
All over the headlines nearly 20 years ago. A big public outcry to get them off the market.
Genetically modified, see. To be immune to pesticides. So when crops are sprayed to get rid of weeds, the important plants aren’t affected.
Yeah, great. But how about the super-weeds that become pesticide resistant? Running riot, ready to take over the planet. And what about the dependant ecology – birds, insects, other plants – the whole biological balance?
And what do they do to us humans?
We showed them back then. 1999, it was. Together with the Daily Mail – guns blazing, run that stuff out of town. And we did, all consumers together. Told our supermarkets “No Deal” – we didn’t want any of that Frankenstein stuff.
Well guess what?
Just checking out this year’s National Farmers’ Union conference, they’ve showed up again. Digging by the Mail has exposed GM foods are back. In up to 80% of maize and soya fed to livestock that become the meat that we eat. Sneaked into our supermarket fridges by big money corporations with no questions asked. We pays the money, the retail chains keep schtum.
Yeah, bad news, the pits.
GM and worse
But squeaky clean alongside the ANTIBIOTICS you’ll find in the same food. Especially since those mega-buck conglomerates have no idea they’re there anyway.
Yeah, GM crops – we can probably live with them.
But genetically modified human beings – meaning YOU and everyone else on this planet – that’s seriously screwing with us. Because that’s exactly what antibiotics do long-term – screw up our genes, shake up our body balance.
Ever wondered why we’re all getting fat? Or why we’re getting sick more than we used to?
Thanks for nothing – from antibiotics. In the food that we eat – straight from the supermarket.
You see, they’re actually ADDED to livestock foods, like the maize and soya already GM cultivated – deliberately fed to animals to make them grow bigger, stronger and faster.
And animals have been fed that stuff for decades – generation after generation of cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry and even fish – fattened up for market in high density factory farms. Places so crowded, and hygienically iffy, those same animals NEED antibiotics to stop them falling sick in droves.
All in the poo
OK, let’s get basic.
Every farm animal – cows, sheep, chickens – makes poo. Tons and tons of the stuff – a major source of nutrients for all plant life. In fact the average cow probably pumps 80 – 90% of the stuff that it eats back out again – super-enriched food to make fertile manure.
Laced through and through with residual antibiotics.
Right, so follow the chain. The poo enriches grass for grazing – to be re-eaten by those same animals. More of the same stuff to bulk them up – the farmer’s rubbing his hands, although probably has no idea it’s there.
Because they’re in the grass, antibiotics residues are in the animals’ silage too. They get them with every mouthful, even though the farmer will withdraw antibiotics in their feed – for an elimination period required by law – before sending them off to market.
Plus of course, the poo gets collected for manure – which spreads antibiotic residues everywhere it’s used – including the GM farmed crops of maize and soya to be used as additional feed. So even though the animals are not receiving direct doses, they’re still mainlining with every mouthful.
It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere
The same manure of course, gets used everywhere else too – for fruit, grain and vegetable crops, everything. There are no laws or restrictions on its use, so it may even wind up being used to encourage growth of ORGANIC crops too. Organic crops thought to be pure, but containing antibiotic residues.
Oh yeah, and while we remember, antibiotics are widely used to boost plant growth too – sprayed on, mulched into the soil, or sometimes injected – and there’s no legal restriction on how that happens. They’re also used like pesticides – to control white spot, blight and leaf rot. More residues.
Since they’re in the soil, the residues leach down into the ground too, to be borne away by rainwater and runoff into the river systems. Which means there are antibiotic traces in our drinking water too – everything we eat or drink, right across the food spectrum.
Now here’s the thing. We think of antibiotics as medicines, right? Miracle drugs that prevent and cure infection, protecting us from illness and disease. They do this by killing pathogenic bacteria, prescribed according to whatever the need is, to target treatment more effectively.
Not so bad if applied locally, to the skin or directly to a sutured area. But a real full-on drama if taken internally. Because as doctors are now starting to realise, our bodies are actually 90% bacteria and only 10% human – a mutual and harmonious partnership that makes us the amazing creatures that we are.
Down in our gut, where everything we eat eventually winds up, there are hundreds of trillions of bacteria – our microbiota – a diverse and carefully balanced community handling all kinds of functions, including digestion, protein production and regulating our immune system.
Pitch any kind of bacteria-killing antibiotic in there and it’s mayhem. Medicinal antibiotics might home in on specific pathogens, but a lot of other bacteria types inevitably get in the way. Residual antibiotics attack pretty well anything.
Bang, the end of carefully balanced harmony, the whole community goes out of kilter. Some whole species get wiped out, others are severely devastated. Not good for their basic defence system, which is to crowd invaders out by sheer numbers, impossible if half of them are missing.
Er, damaged gut bacteria. With damaged DNA. Unable to do what they’re supposed to do. Genetically modified gastrointestinal malfunction. Oh, sorry!
All kinds of things happen as a result, none of them positive. Yes, we might get rid of whatever bug we got our prescription for, but everything else is a downer. Plus there’s no coming back. Some bacteria resuscitate if their numbers are big enough. But the minor groups are gone for good – the system never comes back to 100%. Being genetically modified is a one-way street.
First to go is usually appetite control – and how many nutrients should be extracted from food. At worst, there are no limits, the body eats gluttonously, side-stepping the brain and indulging itself simply because it can.
More likely we wonder why the hell we start ballooning up, we’re not eating any more and we don’t normally guts ourselves anyway. Yeah, but the body absorbs more as it passes through – with our bacteria on the fritz, it squeezes out food value that much tighter. Check your poo – eating the same but passing less? It’s on your tummy and your thighs and your bum.
Uh huh. Exactly the mechanism that makes farm animals bulk up – only now it’s happening to us. Just one of the happy surprises that genetically modified means. Without controls, we pull out more food value than we should – and pile on the pounds big time.
Fat, fatter, obese – but it’s not all lifestyle. Devastating consequences though – type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma – and a lengthening list of other ailments, most of them slow, debilitating and ultimately fatal. Unless we realise what’s happening, we can eat ourselves to death.
And we’re already on the way. Check out Parliament’s own Obesity Statistics. 24% of adults in England are obese and a further 36% are overweight. Double the way we were in 1994 – when GM foods first pushed their way into our supermarkets – and farmers started ramping up antibiotics in animal feed, now at 324,000 tonnes per year worldwide and counting.
Want more proof we’re already genetically modified?
Well, since when did we develop all these sudden allergies, sensitivities and intolerances?
Some of them are because we grow up too clean these days – too little time as toddlers, eating dirt. Our immune systems are a combination of our inheritance from our mothers and what our bodies learn in our formative years, teaching our gut bacteria how to defend us.
Hmm, not so rosy any more. For a start, Mum’s own immune system is genetically modified from a lifetime of residual antibiotic damage – and probably under-powered from her own birth because HER Mum was genetically modified too.
On top of that, the world we live in has fewer challenges to even a generation ago. Major league killers like cholera and typhoid don’t exist any more – which means our immune reflexes sit twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do.
OK, so they invent something. And our high-powered defences over-react, chasing phantoms. We get a reaction, even plunge into life-threatening anaphylactic shock – coming down with asthma, eczema, hay fever, urticaria, coeliac disease, dermatitis, lactose intolerance, nut allergies and a million more – a three-fold increase on where we were back in the 70s.
Time to strike back. Pressure our supermarkets into rejecting GM foods – and antibiotics too. Go organic if we can. Avoid antibiotics like the plague – because they might save lives in the short term, but in the long run they’re killers.
Which also means stay away from germs wherever possible so that our weakened systems stand a better chance of survival. Only one way round that – wash your hands like your life depends on it (which it does) – and sterilise the area around you whenever you can with a Hypersteriliser. If there are no germs, you can’t get hit.
Yeah, genetically modified foods – at least they’re well intended, despite the side effects. Not like antibiotics – they’re about as helpful as being genetically modified with a baseball bat.
Right, not food you eat – the antibiotics you swallow.
Even though you might not taking them right now.
Because actually, you are – you just don’t know it.
We all are – every day.
Junkies, and we don’t know it
Because they’re in the food we eat. Put there to bulk up the meat we choose and the veg we prefer. In our bread, butter, milk and water too. Eggs too, of course.
Strictly speaking, we guess that does mean you’re getting fat from the food you eat. But not from the nutrition it gives – from the messing around it does to your digestive system, so you extract MORE food value than you’re meant too – over-riding your control of when to stop.
Truth is, that’s why antibiotics are a major part of food production – and have been for decades. They make ANIMALS bigger, better, faster – added to the food they eat. Now it’s happening to us, with the same result. They eat spiked feedstuff, we eat them, we get antibiotics too. Little bit by little bit, every single day.
Licence to print money
Which means – as you can imagine – on the farm, antibiotics are a goldmine. Without them, farmers would have to have acres of otherwise useless grazing space, animals spread out across fields and fields, growing up slowly in the fresh air and sunshine.
All very nice, but not good for business. Even charging double because it’s “organic”.
No, no, no – much better to herd all the animals indoors, out of the weather, closer together so they’re easier to breed and feed. A bit messy with so many of them all jammed in close together, not exactly healthy, pretty stressful too.
But never mind, antibiotics compensate for the high density conditions. None of them get sick because they’re on medicine already. And the amazing side effect is they get bigger and bigger and bigger – an overnight miracle. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 1 year instead of four.
Yeah, so forget whatever your Doc might be using them for – antibiotics on the farm are the modern way of doing business, the failsafe that keeps factory farms going. Round the world they get used on an industrial scale – in China alone, 162,000 tonnes a year according to this report – half the world’s intake.
Which means the actual figure is twice that – 324,000 tonnes.
Still think you’re not on antibiotics?
Yeah, well everybody’s got to eat. And with a world population of 7.5 billion, that means a dose of around 450 milligrams for every man, woman and child on the planet – four times the strength your Doc would probably put you on, if you had an ailment.
Lifesavers that kill
And have you any idea what antibiotics do to your innards?
Basically, they only do one thing – kill bacteria. Which is good if you have an infection or disease, they kill the bacteria that’s causing it, you get better.
Hold up there, that’s not the full story.
Antibiotics kill bacteria, right? That means pretty well ALL bacteria they come in contact with, unless it’s a type that’s built up a resistance.
And guess what? Down in your gut, there are hundreds of trillions of bacteria – all vital to enabling digestion, producing proteins, regulating your immune system, and a zillion other things. One antibiotics pill releasing in that lot and it’s mass murder – whole tribes wiped out, crucial clans damaged or impaired, the whole balance gone for a ball of chalk.
But your body needs those guys to be healthy and resilient – as many and diverse as possible to meet all the challenges to expect in your lifetime. Except they’re not healthy and resilient, are they? They’re busted and broken, whole squadrons missing – including the ones that control appetite, producing ghrelin to start eating and leptin to stop.
A busted flush
Yeah, to put it mildly, you’re stuffed out of sight – nutrition intake system jammed on full throttle. Unless you’re fully aware of what your body keeps asking, you find yourself eating with no idea why you’re so hungry.
Worse, your body grabs more out of the food as it passes through your system. Eating more and pooing less – all that stuff’s got to go somewhere, so that’s the start of your spare tyre. Next stop, bingo wings, thunder thighs, muffin top and all the trimmings. And you thought it was all you.
Of course not all of us are as fat as we might be. We all have different metabolisms, our colonies of gut bacteria vary as individually as fingerprints, and our immune systems all have different exposure to disease and illnesses as we grow up. And to antibiotics.
One thing’s for sure. The younger we get hit, the more chance we have of being obese. Not just the background drip, drip we all experience – but a full-on medical course a doctor might prescribe. Full throttle already, now we go to warp speed.
Fat from childhood
Get antibiotics before we’re two, and chances are high we’ll be overweight by five. And if you’re like most of us here in the UK, by the time you’re twenty, you’ll have been through TWENTY courses of antibiotics – every one of them grabbing at your gut and ripping things out. Chug three Cokes at a session and you don’t even know you’re doing it.
Plus you’re more vulnerable too. Not surprising with half your immune control system shot to hell.
Which means if you want to live to a ripe old age, better take care of yourself more than you might have been. Despite the antibiotics – or rather, because of them – infections are now easier to catch. More easily picked up from germs on your skin, from the air, or from objects around you.
Want proof? How many times have you come down with colds or flu – can’t shake them off? Or headaches, norovirus or other tummy bugs – over and over again? Like this never happened to your Mum and Dad.
OK, so wash your hands every chance you get. Wash the dirt off – and the germs – invisible nano-dirt you can’t see, but just waiting to climb inside you and make you ill.
Sterilise the space around you as well. A good mist up with a Hypersteriliser will keep your workplace free from all viruses and bacteria for a good twenty-four hours or more. It won’t kill infections if you’ve already got them – but it will stop new ones happening.
Of course, getting that weight off is a pain. Your mind has to over-rule your gut feel – and there are no short cuts.
But now at least you know what you’re up against. You’re not fighting you, you’re fighting antibiotics.
It wasn’t your fault you got fat in the first place – but it’s going to be all-you that makes you thinner.
There’s no escaping this one – not the fat, not the guilt, nor the accompanying illnesses.
And just because you’re not bulging yet, don’t think it can’t happen to you.
Because it will.
It’s gonna get you
Unless you stop eating completely – a one-way solution as the body eats itself.
So right, however we get our fatness, it all comes from food.
Which is why all the hoo-hah about diets and you-are-what-you-eat. Stick to this, give up that, do a ton of exercise with it. All very good and noble – and effective like moving deckchairs on the Titanic.
But you have to agree, the cause IS in the food we eat.
And it’s got to be in what ALL of us eat because ALL of us are showing signs – podgy round the edges, heavier in the jowl, visibly getting fat. Already two thirds of adults are overweight and getting fatter. Give us time, and we’ll all be two-ton Tessies whatever we eat– and yes, that includes the carrot-stick and bottled water brigade – the ones who eat Punishment Foods to stay thin.
Inevitable until we nail the common denominator. The one that’s staring us in the face – and has been for years.
The 1950s villain
Antibiotics – the same stuff the Doc gives us when we’re sick.
Er, but not given to us, not even close. They’re added to feedstuff or injected into the animals we farm and vegetable crops we grow.
Way back in 1950, researchers first noticed that feeding streptomycin to day-old chicks made them grow faster and bigger. Amazing – double the size for half the effort.
Today, nearly seventy years later, antibiotics are used by the ton world-wide to bulk up livestock of all kinds and enhance plant growth.
And there’s our fattening source, right there. Super high-powered growth promoters laced through everything we eat. Proven to bulk up living organisms and accelerate growth. They work for animals and they’re working for us too. With every mouthful, a little more, a little fatter.
They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere
Because what can you buy in the supermarket that does NOT contain antibiotics? Yeah, yeah, we’ve seen all the organic hype about no additives or preservatives, but who is monitoring antibiotic levels in our food – or even know they’re there?
And can’t we get rid of them? Take them out of our food before we eat it?
Well yes, but you’ve got to boil them out – let the food bubble furiously for at least thirty minutes. Then chuck away the broth – that’s where the antibiotics are – and rinse thoroughly.
Zero food value – and tastes like boiled knitting.
Because in some form or other, all farmed food contains antibiotics – either directly through animal feed, or in residual levels, via antibiotics-laden manure (beef cattle excrete 80 to 90% of the nutrients they consume) leached into the soil and from there into our river systems.
The only way out is switch to non-farmed food. Like deep sea fish and home grown vegetables – cultivated without fertiliser, of course.
Otherwise, better resign yourself to getting fat if you aren’t already. Or fatter, if you’re currently portly. Which of course triggers a whole string of obesity-related health risks – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma – long-term illnesses that take decades to claim you.
And that’s just for starters.
More ways to get ill
Time to remember the other thing that antibiotics do. Kill bacteria – the reason the Doc gives them to us in the first place – to clobber some infection or illness.
Yeah, they save lives – by killing.
And guess what? As doctors and researchers are encountering every day, our own bodies are 90% bacteria – as much part of us as our other vital organs – heart, lungs, brain.
So yeah, the antibiotic kills the bad bacteria that’s causing us illness. It also kills a slew of other vital bacteria alongside – a wide diversity that control digestion, regulate appetite, balance our metabolism, govern our immune systems.
Lose any of those and we lose what they do. Temporarily for some, because there are enough survivors to grow back. Permanently for others – minority groups that are wiped out. Every time the body is hit with antibiotics, it never comes back 100%.
Underpowered and out of balance, our body bacteria are less able to protect us from invaders trying to do us harm. We’re weaker, more at risk – an unfortunate disability we pass on to our kids. And to our kids’ kids.
Hell, this has been happening for nearly seventy years, we’re way more likely to get sick than ever before.
So what defence is there?
Lifesavers that kill
If we get seriously ill, antibiotics are the quick-fix that rescue us from disaster. Yet all the time they’re killing us – destroying our body bacteria – the microbiome that sustains us and provides our life force.
Better not to get sick in the first place. Avoid risks, grab whatever protection we can.
And STAY OFF ANTIBIOTICS.
Which means upping our hygiene – keeping ourselves clean so germs don’t get a shot at us. Washing hands, before and after everything we do. Something we all forget because most of the time they LOOK clean – we don’t see the microscopically small nano-dirt inevitably lurking.
Even that is not enough. Because the very next thing we touch is covered in germs too – they are on everything, in everything and riding the air too. Nano-dirt we can’t see – like the average office desk, inundated with 10 million disease-causing bacteria.
Touch your keyboard or your papers and your hands are dirty again – reloaded with germs waiting to have a go.
So we need to neutralise environmental germs too – sterilise the area around us to keep ourselves safe from their daily challenge – a regular hygiene habit like brushing teeth or using deodorant. Not the whole world of course, that’s impossible – besides most bacteria are actually beneficial, they’re only harmful in the wrong place.
Ah, but we CAN have a go at our workplace, protecting our colleagues as well as ourselves. Forty minutes with a Hypersteriliser mists up the entire space with hydrogen peroxide when everyone’s gone home – stretching up through the air, reaching into every crack and crevice, oxidising germs to nothing, keeping us safe.
Whew! Now all we have to do is get the weight off.
Doctors are there to save lives, not threaten them.
True. And more dedicated, committed professionals you could never find anywhere.
Except our own cleverness is catching up- with us.
Especially with antibiotics.
Deadly to bacteria, in more ways than one
We think of them as lifesavers – and yes, they are. Without antibiotics, most of modern medicine would be near impossible – particularly surgical procedures.
Heart bypasses and joint replacements might be routine, but without antibiotics to control infection they couldn’t even be attempted.
Medical miracles, it’s amazing what antibiotics have enabled us to do.
But the gleam is fading.
Fifty years after they were first discovered, they’re showing a major downside. Increasingly, bacteria are mutating to neutralise their effect – the germs that can kill us are becoming immune. Unstoppable.
Over-use and abuse
Totally our fault of course.
We have these magic silver bullets – so of course we use them everywhere. Doctors know they’re potent and need care, which is why all antibiotics are on prescription. But we’re so hyped up about these amazing cure-alls, we demand them for everything.
Which puts us on the cliff edge – about to plunge backwards, more than a hundred years. If antibiotics don’t work any more, what do we do then?
It’s a growing headache – which England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dame Sally Davies, puts on the same scale as the threat of terrorism. People are going to die because antibiotics don’t work any more – and doctors are powerless to prevent it.
But not quite yet.
Not all antibiotics are powerless against germs, even though some germs have evolved to be resistant to ALL antibiotics. If we can curb our massive over-use, we stand a fighting chance.
Which is why Dame Sally and the whole medical profession are constantly campaigning to limit antibiotic use.
A monumental uphill battle. Thanks to patient pressure, one in four of all prescriptions for antibiotics written in the UK is unnecessary. Minor ailments are sledge-hammer blitzed when ordinary paracetamol would be more than effective.
Or even a nice, restorative cup of tea – our grandparents knew a thing or two.
But medical over-use is only the tip of the iceberg.
Every year, over FOUR HUNDRED TONNES of antibiotics are shovelled into livestock up and down the country together with their regular feed.
Big profits drive this – the farmers’ rolling jackpot. Because the name of the game in agriculture is that antibiotics promote growth.
They bulk up animals and plants to twice the size in half the time – often even quicker. From egg to supermarket chicken in six weeks – or more amazingly, calves for quality beef are market-ready between 3 and 16 weeks.
So while we’ve been swallowing pills to make us better, farmers have been shoving them in to make animals bigger. On an industrial scale – think ship-building or trucks.
And they’ve been doing it for over fifty years – accelerating over the last twenty. Billions and billions of cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and fish. Billions and billions of tonnes of fruit, vegetables and grain crops. Our entire food spectrum at the supermarket.
Which means everything we’ve been eating for the last twenty years has included proven growth promoters – through antibiotics added DIRECTLY to animal feed, or RESIDUAL quantities acquired via manure and soil enrichment.
So guess what? WE’RE GETTING FAT TOO. Two thirds of us are already overweight and lurching towards serious medical problems.
Down in our gut, where our personal bacteria thrive, digesting our food and maintaining our systems, antibiotics have disturbed the natural balance that controls our appetite – putting our pedal to the metal in ghrelin production, the hormone that tells us to eat, eat, eat.
And that’s where the cancer comes in. From the ciprofloxacin given to you by your doctor.
It might have cured your chest infection – but could also be the spur that tips your gut bacteria over the edge, wiping out whole families of useful and friendly bacteria, allowing enterobacteriaceae to thrive.
You may not have started fat, but along with the other trace antibiotics you eat daily with every meal, it’s so easy to bulk up. Size, 16, size 18 – jump-starting your way to obesity.
And obesity triggers not only cancer, but heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma. Better watch your diet very carefully now – you can’t undo the damage or replace the missing bacteria, but you can avoid the slippery slope.
Priority One, avoid antibiotics as much as you can. Difficult when they’re in everything you eat, but you can REDUCE your intake. Organic vegetables as far as possible – they’re less likely to be grown from enriched manure – and deep ocean fish like cod and haddock, the ones they CAN’T farm.
Priority Two, avoid germs, so you don’t need antibiotics. Wash your hands whenever you think of it – certainly before food and after the loo. They might LOOK clean, but you can’t see viruses or bacteria – sometimes as small as 2 microns across, they’re difficult even with a microscope.
But they’re there, always – nano-dirt you can’t see, just waiting to enter your body – transferred from your fingers onto food – or into the soft tissue round your eyes and mouth.
They’re all around us too, on every surface and swirling around us in the air. Know how the sun shows up dust particles in a cross-beam? Germs are like that, only billions of times more – constant work for your immune system.
But you can reduce those too by making your rooms sterile, bringing viruses and bacteria around you down to zero. All it takes is a Hypersteriliser, a machine that mists up the air with ionised hydrogen peroxide, an eco-friendly germ killer that reaches everywhere and grabs germs on the fly, oxidising them to nothing.
Will your doctor give you cancer?
Not today, thank goodness. But don’t go asking for antibiotics unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Yeah, they’re lifesavers. But in ten or twenty years time, if they trigger obesity, they could also make you dead.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.