Tag Archives: sugar

Antibiotics: we got them wrong like Fleming said – and now we’ve totally blown it

Doc with bugs
All this worrying with antibiotics resistance neglects the even bigger killer of obesity

Miracle lifesavers, antibiotics. But like Fleming predicted back in the 50s, a double-edged sword.

Because yes, antibiotics did what that they said on the tin – kill bacteria. Except they bounced back if you didn’t kill enough of them.

A bit like bombing an ants’ nest, which all the pest control guys can tell you about. Make sure you get ALL the ants – because if there’s any survivors, they’ll be back.

Not only that, they’ll be uglier and tougher – better able to withstand the next bomb you chuck them. Tougher resistance, a new strength to breed into all future generations.

Exactly like bacteria – which develop antimicrobial resistance if not clobbered hard enough. Mutating to a new superbug that antibiotics can’t kill.

And because bacteria can interact with each other, passing on their immunity to other bacteria types. Antibiotic resistance out of nowhere, even though never exposed to them.

Wrong and wronger

All of which is now rubbished by new research just published in the British Medical Journal – that antibiotics should be used sparingly – until the patient is better and not necessarily until the fully prescribed course runs out.

Yeah, right.

Like swallowing only one paracetamol capsule for that thumping headache instead of two – so there’s more left when it’s needed. How does that work?

Frankly if there’s bacteria giving you grief and you’re at death’s door, common sense says keep going to make sure you get rid of all of them. No pussy-footing round with half-measures that let your symptoms recur.

Exactly like if you’re painting a floor, you buy enough to cover the whole thing – not just a small tin that does half of it.

Yeah, but – the research boffins are going to say. There’s no evidence to suggest that under-dosing  causes antibiotic resistance.

Sure guys, whatever.

Growth boosters

But there’s a MONUMENTAL stack of evidence that under-dosing DOES boost body growth. Fleming and his team came across that from the get-go. A phenomenon that farmers have been relying on for the last 50 years – to produce enough food to support the nearly THREE TIMES population explosion the world has had since.

OK, good – so there’s enough food. Achieved by making animals grow bigger, faster.

But now the tail’s wagging the dog.

Because the boffins haven’t twigged it yet, but it’s staring us in the face.

With antibiotics already being gobbled up by animals, that means there’s antibiotics in everything we eat. Not big doses, meant to kill bacteria. But little drip-drip doses, deliberately used to make bodies grow fatter.

In other words, ours. Because – surprise, surprise – we’re animals too.

So behold the “overfat” girls of the UK and the US – the fattest in the world.

Better include Australia, Canada and all of Western Europe too – it’s become an epidemic. Because fact: two thirds of British adults are already seriously overweight or obese – and so are one third of our kids.

Uh huh, the writing’s on the wall, so listen up BMJ readers  – antibiotics cause obesity.

Obesity epidemic

It starts with childhood, where the first antibiotics we get trigger infant obesity.  Followed up by steady antibiotics throughout adolescence, so that by the time a teenager reaches 20, they’ve been exposed to antibiotics at least SEVENTEEN TIMES.

And all the time we’re all getting drip-drip under-doses of antibiotics every day. In the meat we eat. In the vegetables grown with manure from the same animals, or in soil enriched from the same source. They’re even in our water supply, leached in through the soil to our streams and rivers.

Right now the medics are worried about antibiotic resistance and that 700,000 people will die.

But obesity leads to… Fleming would turn in his grave.

Take your pick from asthma, diabetes, limb amputation, heart disease or cancer – a long, slow death for 30 MILLION people – almost half the population of UK.

30 MILLION people – how wrong do you want to get?

And it’s not going to stop, because antibiotics are essential to sustain food production for the 7½ billion people that inhabit the planet today. Pull the plug, and food levels go back to the 1950s and 5 BILLION people will die.

Like we said, how wrong do you want to get?

Not short-term lifesavers, but long-term killers.

Fleming was right, we’d get antibiotic resistance.

Except that’s not the problem any more. It’s the obesity epidemic.

But instead of searching round for an ALTERNATIVE, like bacteriophages – all our top medics blame SUGAR and look the other way.

Any excuse to avoid reality, hey?

If sugar makes us fat, why DOESN’T it get used to bulk up farm animals?

Sugar lust
Take it from the billions of animals who know. Sugar is under-powered – to get really fat, you need antibiotics

Not good enough is why. Doesn’t do the job. If you want to bulk up proper, use antibiotics.

That’s what farmers do. Micro-doses of antibiotics in the feed – the most powerful growth boosters ever invented. To make animals WANT to eat more. And to make them absorb more food value than they normally do – which is  how they put on weight.

Super-duper growth boosters

Works great with cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, even fish. From egg to a roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From newborn calf to an Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

Overnight maturity. Instant obesity.

The same with plants. Faster seeding, stronger shooting, quicker yielding. From antibiotics applied directly, or absorbed from the soil in animal manure.

Oh sure, sugar has an effect – but mild alongside antibiotics. Feeble. The farmers’ secret to fast fat for at least the last fifty years. Exploding to industrial levels  in the last twenty – with the introduction of factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

Exactly when our current obesity epidemic got started. Two thirds of British adults now overweight or obese – and one third of children too.

But not from sugar. Fifty years ago we had sugary Coke and junk-food pizza, just like we have now – and people didn’t get fat. Now they do. From the same antibiotics that the animals get fed.

How does that work?

All in the poo

That’s the messy part. Very ewey.

You see, animals don’t absorb all the food that they eat. Around 80% is pooed out again as waste, nature’s way of providing on-going fertility to plants and smaller animals like birds and insects. And not just nutrients either, but residual amounts of those antibiotics.

Some of it falls on the grass in animal grazing areas, to enrich the soil and promote healthy growth. The animals eat it, re-ingesting those same antibiotics all over again. Or they eat cereal straw and grass dried after cutting – or silage made from cereal crops like maize and wheat.

Again, grown with fertile manure from those same animals. And again with residual amounts of antibiotics – exactly like the micro-doses added to their feed in the first place.

So even if antibiotics are withdrawn from their food because they’re getting ready for market, they’re still getting their daily hit. Still with their appetites turned full throttle.

Our daily dose

And still with antibiotics in their bodies. Which become the beef, lamb, pork and poultry offerings on our supermarket shelves – ready for us to eat, antibiotics and all.

With the same effect of making US want to eat more than we usually do – and absorbing more nutrients than normal. What works for the animals works for us, so WE get fat too.

Fatter and fatter. Because we don’t go to market at an early age – we’re here for the long haul. So we pile on the pounds – meal after meal, day after day without realising it. Until suddenly we look in the mirror and we’re a hulking Size 20.

Yes, sugar has a bearing on it. We eat too much of it, of course we bulk up. Two two-litre Cokes instead of the 350ml bottle our grand-folks chugged. Double burger with extra fries – and muddy Mississippis to follow.

Too much food altogether, that’s why we get fat.

But sugar’s not the cause. Not everyone who puts two spoonfuls in their tea is a porker. Nor is everyone who chows a Mars bar dangerously overweight.

The info that we’re over the top doesn’t reach the brain because the bacteria in our gut mix up the signals. We over-eat without realising it – until reality hits us in the mirror.

So putting a tax on sugar is not exactly going to help. It’s treating symptoms, not cause.

Yes, we eat too much sugar. And too much bread, and too many chips, and too much cheese, and too many eggs, and too much jam, and too much cake, and too much ice cream, and too much curry and rice.

It’s not the sugar that’s the problem. It’s the too much.

And the only way to stop it, is to stop us getting these micro-doses of antibiotics in everything we eat. Meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy – even water. Everything is laced with them – right through the whole food production chain.

With more coming all the time. 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics currently get used worldwide in agriculture – with totals set to hike nearly 70% by 2030.

Which means it’s not sugar we have to tax, it’s antibiotics.

Not exactly wise – because without them, world food production would stall completely.

From eating and absorbing too much, billions of people would starve and wither. And there would be nobody to eat the sugar anyway.

Ever get the feeling our “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about?

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Sugar tax? Shouldn’t we ban TV’s Bake Off first?

Doughnut girl
No wonder we’ve got cravings – every food programme on TV has enough sugar to sink a battleship

Vile stuff, sugar. Jamie Oliver says so, so it must be true.

Makes us fat, rots our teeth, turns us into porkers with our fingers and toes chopped off.

So of course we should tax sugar, stomp it out.

Criminal addiction

Like tobacco and smoking. Tax it out of sight, hide it from the public eye.

Ban sugar on TV too – all programmes, all advertising, everything there is. In movies and magazines too. Hide sugar products away in the supermarket and double their prices.

Ban sugar on TV? Sure, all those cooking programmes – cakes and puddings and things. To a nation of obese and recognised sugar addicts – a very bad influence. Bad, bad, bad.

Chop the lot

Which means, in popularity order, that we should axe The Great British Bake Off, Nigella Lawson, Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen, Heston Blumenthal, Great British Menu, Nigel Slater, Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver and Come Dine With Me.

Oh, and anything to do with jam-making – the vilest of the vile. A wicked past-time that even our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dame Sally Davies, has fallen prey to – her “energy-making” therapy.

Just why is it so bad? Loaded with sugar through and through – according to the BBC’s online Good Food site – “… to qualify as proper jam, the finished product should contain 60% sugar.”

Good Food! 60% sugar!

60% sugar – when a 1.75 litre bottle of regular Coke contains ONLY 16%!

Jam should carry a health warning. Shocking! Scandalous! Write to your MP immediately.

Non-tax nonsense

Because you can buy TWO 1.75 litre Cokes in the supermarket for £2. Or FOUR of the supermarket’s own brand for the same price.  But you can buy own brand strawberry jam for just 29p – nearly 40 times the sugar hit, for less than 15% of the price.

So what kind of a tax is going to stop anyone? 500%? 1,000%?

Get real.

The mark-up on a medium-sized Coke at your local Odeon bughouse is more than that already

Just who is kidding who, here?

And that’s not even thinking about the level of sugar in ordinary foods, prepared meals and the like.

All sugar and sweetness

Meanwhile Bake Off goes on and on. Sugar in your face, programme after programme. Like Nadiya Hussain’s winning birthday cake recipe? 175 grams of caster sugar – 35 teaspoons. PLUS 500 grams of icing sugar – 100 teaspoons. 135 teaspoons altogether.

Yes, congratulations to Nadiya, but what about us poor addicts?

Sure, sure, it’s bad and something should be done – but is ANYONE addressing why so many of us have a sweet tooth? That our sugar cravings are so severe? And is ANYONE doing anything to stop these cravings – instead of flying off to Bermuda on the sugar taxes we have to pay?

A joke, right? As John Belushi demonstrated in his TV doughnut sketch. Reality upside down.

Uncontrolled cravings

Because the truth is, we have little or no control over the foods we crave, our body does that without us ever even thinking about it. A hormone called ghrelin does the trick, pumped out by the resident bacteria we all have in our gut to take care of digestion.

OK, so the ghrelin says gimme, gimme, gimme, sugar, sugar, sugar.

Why?

In a healthy body, that isn’t supposed to happen. We eat, we have enough, our gut bacteria tell us to switch off. Finished eating, we’re satisfied.

Uh huh. So something’s wrong. And something’s wrong with a lot of us, because more and more of us are getting fat. Our gut bacteria are making mistakes – not turning off when they’re supposed to – and extracting TOO MUCH nutrition from the food we eat as well.

Uh huh, part two. And what could possibly skew our gut bacteria so wildly out of kilter that the whole system tilts out of balance, like some madman running amok?

Wonder drugs, ultra thugs

Simple, simple. What kills bacteria? No less than the miracle wonder-drugs of our time – antibiotics.

OK, so we take them for some infection or because we’re having an operation. Down in your gut, the harmful bacteria get killed alright – so do a lot of innocent bystanders, the beneficial bacteria that keep our bodies in good order.

And they’re not just in medicines.

There’s antibiotics in most of the food we eat too. Growth boosters given to livestock to make them bulk up bigger and faster. Given to plant crops too, for the same reason.

And the same thing happens to animals as happens to us. Their gut bacteria are out of balance from the antibiotics in their feed, their ghrelin equivalent doesn’t stop producing. So they eat themselves stupid – noshing all the time from habit, as there’s not much food value to be had out of grazing grass.

But they’re not grazing grass any more – not most of the time. They’re mainlining on boosted feedstuff that puts their gut bacteria on turbo, their bodies are full of it.

They eat that, we eat them, we get fat too – it’s not rocket science.

But for some reason, all our celebrity chefs and nutritionists are running round like chickens with their heads chopped off, shouting that we should tax sugar.

Yeah, we should get serious about cutting down sugar intake.

But we should also get serious about how we do it. Taxing the supply does nothing except push the price up.

So? It’s more expensive. But everything always goes up – money is not affected by gravity.

Better to reduce demand. Get our bodies to ask for less, problem solved.

Get off the pills

Which means GET OFF ANTIBIOTICS.

Unless it’s life-threatening, avoid them like the plague. Because that’s what they are in the long-term – fat becomes obese, becomes type two diabetes or heart disease or cancer – a nasty slow-motion car crash over the next twenty years. The Black Death killed in days, antibiotic damage kills in decades, none of them pleasant.

And just what the hell happened to proper TV programming in prime time anyway?

Cookery? Soaps? Dancing?

Back in the day, that was mid-afternoon gap-filler, padding to get through the nothing. Balanced evening viewing was Western, private eye, Western – the way life is supposed to be.

Which means we’re already paying a sugar tax, like it or not. All those sweet, syrupy programmes – not worth the licence fee.

Time to get out more and do some exercise. TV is not good for your waistline either.

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Why a sugar tax will do zut to stop our obesity

Girl with Coke bottle
Sugar craving is an addiction – your body demanding attention because it’s out of balance

If anyone seriously WANTS a sugar tax, it should be fat people.

Because obesity sucks, right?

Nobody in their right mind wants to look like that – to feel ugly, less than fit, a target for ridicule, always depressed and increasingly unhealthy.

Nobody wants to be fat

Despite all that, it’s a battle for them to help themselves.

They WANT the sweet tastes, the fill-you-up feeling, the constant indulgences. Their bodies crave them – it’s a growing addiction.

Which means, well-meaning though it is, taxing them is not going to do much. It’s misplaced effort.

Hike the price ten or twenty times, they’ll still want their fix. Addiction is addiction – and the cost of feeding it means nothing, just like the most dangerous and self-destructive drugs.

Yes certainly, cutting down on sugar intake should lessen their misery. And making sugar less freely available can help new youngsters from getting fat. Jamie Oliver is right.

Sugar is not the problem

But it’s not going to stop them, or make the problem go away.

Because the reason why their bodies have these cravings has not been satisfied.

Find ourselves starving in a wasteland and we’ll eat anything – grass, roots, insects, even dirt. But day-to-day, we don’t face that challenge, we can most of us eat what we want.

What we actually choose, will depend how hungry we are. Ravenous, and we go for a quick charge – exactly why fast-foods are so successful – instant go and lots of it, at your fingertips in a hurry.

Not so hungry, we get picky – it’s got to be this, it’s got to be that – gourmet posh-nosh that can cost a bomb.

It’s the body though, that decides what it wants. The body playing mind-games on the brain.

The magic of taste, the allure of smell, the sexy come-hither on the plate – all the tricks of the trade of a clever chef. The brain stands no chance, it’s a foregone decision – it knows how to satisfy it’s own yum-factor.

All anticipation and expectation, right? Which is what all the taxing is about.

And all over as soon as we swallow – down the hatch, gone, finito.

Look deeper

Actually, no.

Down the hatch is where the real action starts. Down there in our gut, where digestion takes place – all taken care of by the bacteria that live there, over 100 trillion of them – the life force without which we’d die.

They might be just microbes, but these things are clever. Over 3.5 BILLION years, they’ve become experts at how to survive.

They’re not all the same either, but incredibly diverse. Thousands and thousands of different types, all balanced in a stable thriving community of specialist skills – processing nutrients, producing proteins and regulating our immune systems among many other vital functions.

It’s the balance that keeps us healthy and alive, that protects us from illnesses, that gives our bodies the athletic agility of the incredible miracle we all are. Properly balanced, we’re fit and able, positive and upbeat.

We eat right because the body tells us to – also in balance, everything in proportion. Gutsing out on sugar means that something is wrong – the balance is skewed. We don’t just get fat, we’re at risk of all kinds of illnesses too, on-going conditions that wear away our health.

Symptoms, not cause

So yeah, while forcibly reducing sugar intake is a good thing, it doesn’t restore the balance. Nor do other diet disciplines – or even fitting a gastric band. They’re treating symptoms, not cause. And experiments with sugar tax are not working anyway.

What’s wrong is our gut bacteria are out of balance. Some essential ones are missing – others are out of whack – not performing as they should. Altogether, vital numbers are down.

And it’s not sugar that’s doing this. A healthy body wouldn’t eat that much sugar anyway. It doesn’t need it, so the system doesn’t ask for it – no craving, no weight gain. Besides, sugar is food – and all that any bacteria know how to do is eat. So our gut bacteria make the choice – eat what we need, leave what we don’t – the extra goes out in our poo.

No, so it’s not sugar – something far more serious. Something specially designed to kill bacteria.

Antibiotics – miracle lifesavers of modern medicine.

Yeah, lifesavers that kill.

Dropping an antibiotic capsule in amongst the teeming community of our gut bacteria is like exploding a hydrogen bomb. Sure the bad bacteria making us ill get their come-uppance. But so do billions and billions of innocent bystanders – vital good bacteria either killed or disabled, with some rarer types wiped out altogether.

Massacre within

Out of balance means out of control. Among other things, our gut bacteria no longer switch off when they’ve had enough to eat – they keep on and on. They extract more nutrients than they should too – squeeze more out of our food, then force it round our bodies. With nowhere else to go, we get fatter and fatter and fatter.

Yeah, sure – antibiotics are supposed to cure us. But farmers of all kinds have known for years that antibiotics boost growth fast – plants and animals grow bigger, quicker, when dosed with antibiotics.

Which is what’s happening to us.

Before sugar even gets to us, antibiotics are triggering the CAUSE of making us fat.

And not just in one-off’s either – one prescription and that’s your lot – though they are one hell of a jump start. Feed antibiotics to children under two, and by five they’ll be visibly overweight, with their systems accelerating to go even further.

Every time we take antibiotics, we attack our gut bacteria further. Lesser diversity, more out of balance – we’re not just triggering obesity, but all kinds of other life-threats as well.

Every day, another hit

Worse, every single one of us unconsciously takes antibiotics every day – not as medicine, but in our food. Laced with the stuff to boost growth, they’re in all our meat and vegetables – everything we buy in the supermarket.

Which means every mouthful we take is another hit to our gut bacteria – another swing to knock us further off balance. Worst of all, our systems never recover to where they were – with every downer, we’re a little bit less than we were before – fatter, less healthy, more at risk of serious illness.

Cutting down on sugar?

Good idea, yes – but shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

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