Terror in our tummies – why we keep getting ill

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Woman not feeling well
Stop taking the medicine, it’s making us feel worse

You’ve probably noticed it yourself.

We’re going downhill.

Not as resilient as we were. Not as strong either. Victims of terror – a different kind to the one you see in the headlines.

Not feeling so good?

More lasting conditions and ailments. More disabilities, particularly mental or neurological. More vulnerable to disease and infection. Dwindling shadows of who we were.

Getting old? Get real, it’s happening to teenagers too.

Look around and see for yourself. How many people these days are fully able-bodied, stable and emotionally adjusted – with lasting stamina and physical capability?

Something’s wrong, somewhere

Should be the other way round, shouldn’t it?

We live better, have better food, every comfort and service to look after us.

Most visible probably is that we’re all larger than we were. Taller, more full-bodied, yes.

But also fatter. More muffin tops and waistline overflows – like if you read the reports, getting on for two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. Instant candidates for diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, asthma – a list that lengthens every day.

And it’s not just weight. We might not suffer the dread threats of typhoid, cholera or diphtheria any more – medical science has pushed them into the background.

But we have all kinds of other problems – allergies, digestive disorders, circulatory problems, pregnancies that go awry – plus stress, mental hiccups, various phobias and apprehensions – we’re not healthy at all.

What have we done? Why is this happening? Is our modern streamlined lifestyle so terrible?

Unconscious addicts

We’re all junkies is why.

Druggies without knowing it.

And like all junkies we’re going down, the price for this addiction we all unconsciously share.

Deep down in our gut, there’s a war going on. The trillions and trillions of bacteria that we are host to are under siege. Not good, because these bacteria are our lifeline. They handle our digestion, they send signals to the brain that monitor our condition, they even trigger the way our immune system kicks into action.

But little by little, so we don’t even feel it, these bacteria are getting killed. Or maimed – damaged in such a way that they don’t function properly.

Bad news for us because they’re supposed to be there. The right bacteria, in the right place, at the right time. Our first line of defence against wrong bacteria, not supposed to be there. The ones who try to take us over and kill us. The ones that modern medicine controls seeks to control with the all-singing, all-dancing wonder drugs, antibiotics.

Misfiring miracles, more like.

Because it’s antibiotics that are killing our bacteria.

No, not just the bad ones that the Doc might prescribe one-off treatment for – seven days and you’re done, feel better now?

We mean the good guys that do all our body’s heavy work for us. Every day assaulted and beaten up – microscopic victims of GBH and murder. And yes we mean every day – every moment since we were conceived in our mother’s womb and started to become human beings.

Terror in our tummies

You see, killing bacteria is what antibiotics do.

And we’ve been under constant attack by them from Day One. Not in big numbers, but in dribs and drabs – tiny amounts administered a little more with every mouthful of food we take, even the water we drink.

It shouldn’t be so, but it is.

Because, across the board, antibiotics are used to produce nearly every kind of food we eat. Meat, vegetables, milk, eggs – pretty well everything your supermarket has to offer.

They keep animals healthy, see – kind of essential when you think of the crowded and often unsanitary conditions intensive farming methods require to turn big enough profits.

Plus antibiotics fatten them up too – an unexpected money-making side effect. Bigger, stronger animals in often half the time – like as little as five weeks for a roasting chicken.

Money, money, money

Which means the food we eat is full of antibiotics, so we get them too. We’re not supposed to, but we do – despite regulations to stop it.

Just like in our own bodies, animals metabolise antibiotics over time and absorb them into their systems. A one-off dose might be gone in a couple of weeks, or certainly a couple of months. So the law says there has to be a withdrawal period free from any exposure for as long it takes to make residue levels safe for humans to eat.

But of course, time is money.

So even though authorities push for substantial safety margins, residues are NOT always down to zero. Like it or not, an itty-bitty remainder gets through – not enough to have any immediate effect, but everything mounts up.

Because, depending on the antibiotic, not all of it is digested by the animal. As much as 80% of it might be pooed out in grazing areas – to be collected and used as manure.

Plants absorb the antibiotics through the soil and pass them on to us – and because vegetable crops don’t face the same regulations that animals do, we gulp them down without knowing. Pull a potato out of the ground and chances are it’s laced with sulfamethazine.

Antibiotics everywhere

It gets worse.

Because while all animals might go through the eighteen or twenty-eight day withdrawal periods required according to the doses they’ve been given, the unsuspecting farmer has no idea what levels of antibiotics might already be in the feedstuffs he gives them. He thinks the monensin he’s given the cattle he’s earmarked for market has worked it’s way out – the level is either zero or safe.

He’s not wrong. Except the lush grass they’re grazing has been pooed out with their own manure – so is the silage made from it. There’s still monensin coming through.

On top of that, the maize they’re getting was possibly grown with ampicillin to kill the leaf spot – or in any case contains naturally occurring chloramphenicol.

Or maybe they’re fed rapeseed meal, a by-product of the hugely profitable biodiesel industry. No, they won’t get streptomycin anymore, rapeseed has become resistant to it. But how do farmers protect against soft rot (xanthomonas campestris) for this game-changing money-maker crop? High on the list is ciprofloxacin – the same stuff your Doc might prescribe for urinary tract infections or stomach disorders.

Antibiotics everywhere and the effect is snowballing.

Time to stop this terror

We’re not supposed to be on them but we are – constantly. And just like animals, we’re getting fatter, no matter what we do – no wonder two-thirds of us will be porkers by 2025 – only ten years away.

Yes, cut out the sugary drinks and fast foods, join Weight Watchers, fit a gastric band – ever wonder why none of it seems to work? There’s terror in our tummies and it’s ALL of us who are affected, not just the binge-eaters.

Looks like the sooner we get stuck into organic food the better. Either that, or we all OD on paracetamol.

Not really an option, is it?