Never heard of antibiotic-itis?
Maybe you never will. Concerned medics will probably come up with a “safer” name for it. Less scary – like Chronic Immune System Degeneration or CISD – less to worry about behind anonymous letters.
Whatever they might call it, it exists all right.
And we’ve all got it. All of us who buy food at the shops, that is. Not the lucky few still living in jungles or out in the wild where food is all natural. The ones never exposed to antibiotics.
Because we are, you see. Bombarded by them every day. Not just in the medicines we take, which is a whole other issue – but in the food we eat that comes from farms. Meat, veg, organic, whatever – imported or locally sourced – they’re all produced with masses of antibiotics to boost fast and super-developed growth.
A lot of these drugs are added to animal feed to keep them healthy in the crowded mass-producing factory farms where clean conditions and good hygiene are near impossible. At least that’s the accepted line.
The real reason is that antibiotics boost growth by quantum leaps. From chicken’s egg to a 1.5 kg roasting chicken in six weeks. From calf to steak in the butcher’s in eighteen months. Big money.
Your midriff bulge
Check your own waistline. Chances are you’re a bit bulgier than you were a few years ago. You’re bulking up, just like farm livestock does. They eat the antibiotics, you eat them, the same drugs are in your system, doing the same thing – making you fat.
The antibiotics aren’t supposed to be there, of course. Farmers are required by law to withdraw all antibiotics from feedstuffs several weeks before market – and keep records to verify it.
If only it was that easy.
Because it’s a fact of life that cows and other animals only absorb 80 – 90% of the nutrients they eat, including antibiotic residues. The rest passes out as dung, highly prized and widely used as manure.
Manure of course, gets used for everything – from grain crops, to feedstuffs, vegetables and fruit – including a lot of organic produce. Plus it leaches into the ground and into the water table, which is why tests show up antibiotics even in the stuff that we drink. If they’re right there in the Thames, they’re everywhere, particularly oxytetracycline – used in industrial quantities by agriculture, way more than people flushing unused tablets down the loo.
Oh yes, and antibiotics are also used directly to boost plant growth too – injected, mulched, manured – so even committed vegans among us are getting their daily dose too – though maybe not as heavy as regular mainline omnivores. Plus antibiotics in plant crops are not monitored or regulated by legislation, so there could be any amount in there.
Daily worse and worse
OK, we get the message. Every one of us probably has a three-times daily dose of non-medical antibiotics every day of our lives – and has had since birth.
Yeah well, the flip side of that is that our bodies are 90% bacteria, particularly down in our gut where there are over a 100 trillion of them – handling our digestion, producing proteins and regulating our immune systems, among thousands of other functions.
And antibiotics work by killing bacteria.
Which means not only do we bulk up fast, just like farm animals do – our gut bacteria are being savagely depleted or damaged more and more every day, no longer able to do the many things our bodies require.
The immediate downside is weight gain of course – suddenly we’re unhealthily heavy and long-term there is always a price. It might be type 2 diabetes we wind up with, or cancer, or heart disease, or any number of other slow, progressive and life-threatening ailments.
The slo-mo epidemic
But the universal CAUSE is antibiotic-itis – Chronic Immune System Degeneration.
And a lot more happens than just weight gain. Where else do we suddenly get all these afflictions that we never had before? When was the first-ever outbreak of norovirus – or Norwalk virus as it used to be called? 1972? What ever happened before then?
And how about the slew of allergies we never used to have – 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?
Our own miracle drugs are slowly killing us, day by day – slightly more of a medical nightmare than the antibiotic-resistant superbugs that doctors are currently worried about.
And way more of an epidemic than any single infection we might currently be being treated for. Diabetes, cancer and heart disease are all long-term illnesses – a disaster happening in slo-mo. The extra inch on our waistlines is just the beginning.
Biggest worry of all is the steadily worsening damage to our immune systems – every day our natural resistance is weaker. We’re on the slippery slope and the last thing we can use to treat it is antibiotics. But we’re not dead yet, and we do have options.
Ways to get out
Watch out for increasing medical interest and focus on bacteriophages – using “good guy” viruses to precisely target and destroy singled-out “bad guy” bacteria WITHOUT KILLING ANY OF THE OTHERS in our gut microbiota. Phage therapy was used widely in the Soviet Union during the dark days of the Cold War – a parallel technology that developed because antibiotics were only available in the West.
Our other defence is hygiene. Ramping up our personal cleanliness so that germs can never touch us, they’re instantly washed away. Hand hygiene is the start of course, washing thoroughly before and after everything, particularly meals and going to the loo.
The follow-up is eliminating germs from our living space – our homes, schools, offices, restaurants, hotels, meeting places, entertainment centres – the indoor places where we always congregate, putting ourselves at risk from each others’ viruses or bacteria.
Total room sterility
Not a problem there either. Now we have the Hypersteriliser, it’s the easiest thing in the world to sterilise any room totally, destroying all viruses and bacteria, on surfaces or in the air down to almost zero – 99.9999% germ-free, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.
Antibiotic-itis? Yeah, we might hear of it. Because round the world we have to persuade farmers to stop using the things – at all. And in between time, eat only organic or non-farmed food.
Then chances are good it will go away before it gets serious.
Picture Copyright: vonschonertagen / 123RF Stock Photo