Antibiotics in Food and Medicine
Compelling evidence suggests antibiotic overuse and obesity are intricately linked, although the reasons why didn’t become clear until we discovered how your microbiome influences your weight.
Antibiotics can save your life if they’re necessary, such as if you develop a serious bacterial infection, but you don’t need antibiotics for every ear, nose, or throat infection you come down with.
Remember that antibiotics are useless against the viral infections that cause the common cold and the flu, and when used for this purpose, they will only harmyour health by wiping out the good bacteria in your gut.
Beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are, in fact, so crucial to your health that researchers have compared them to “a newly recognized organ,” and have even suggested we consider ourselves a type of “meta-organism.”
This is an acknowledgment of the fact that we cannot be healthy without the participation of a vast array of beneficial microbes. While overused in medicine, the primary source of antibiotic exposure is actually through your diet.
The US uses nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics each year to raise food animals.3, 4 This accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US.5In livestock, antibiotics are used both to ward off disease and to promote weight gain.
Research suggests antibiotics have the same effect in humans. According to data analyzed by journalist Maryn McKenna,6 the states with the highest levels of antibiotic overuse also have the worst health status in the United States, including the highest rates of obesity.
#2 Other Growth-Enhancing Drugs Used in Livestock
Other growth-enhancing drugs are also used to fatten up livestock, and these too may wreak havoc on your health. Ractopamine is one example. This beta-agonist drug works as a growth promoter by increasing protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular.
In human medicine, beta-agonists are also found in asthma medication, and stubborn weight gain is in fact a common complaint among asthma patients using Advair (a beta-agonist drug)—so much so that the manufacturer has added weight gain to the post-marketing side effects.
Many of the growth-enhancers routinely used in the US are banned around the world for their potential health hazards, which go far beyond weight gain.
Side effects such as reduced reproductive function, birth defects, disability, and death are reported side effects of ractopamine in various animals, and if you’re eating CAFO animal products on a daily basis, there’s no telling what it might be doing to your health…
Many confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also use hormones to boost growth, and this routine practices is also banned in many other countries. As noted by Rosenberg:7
“[B]anned in European countries are the hormones US cattle growers rely upon, such as oestradiol-17, trenbolone acetate, zeranol and melengestrol. Zeranol may have more actions than just making mammals fat.
It is a ‘powerful estrogenic chemical, as demonstrated by its ability to stimulate growth and proliferation of human breast tumor cells in vitro at potencies similar to those of the natural hormone estradiol and the known carcinogen diethylstilbestrol,’ says the Breast Cancer Fund.
Translation: it may be linked to US breast cancer rates, too. No wonder Europe doesn’t want our beef.”
#3: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Including Pesticides
Many common household chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, a number of which are found in plastic products. These chemicals are similar in structure to natural sex hormones such as estrogen, and can interfere with their normal functions.
Some of the most pervasive examples include bisphenol-A (BPA), PCBs, phthalates, triclosan, agricultural pesticides, and fire retardants.
As Rosenberg notes, endocrine disruptors are not only associated with an elevated risk for infertility, low sperm counts, precocious puberty, diabetes, and other health problems. They’ve also been linked to obesity.
“As early as 2003, the journal Toxicological Sciences8 addressed effects that endocrine disruptors have on fetal development that likely play a role in adult obesity,” Rosenberg writes.
Interestingly, many endocrine disrupting chemicals have been found to promote weight gain specifically at below-toxic levels. As noted by the authors of that paper:
“This article presents data showing that the current epidemic in obesity cannot be explained solely by alterations in food intake and/or decrease in exercise.
There is a genetic predisposition component of obesity; however, genetics could not have changed over the past few decades, suggesting that environmental changes might be responsible for at least part of the current obesity epidemic…
Indeed, many synthetic chemicals are actually used to increase weight in animals. This article provides fascinating examples of chemicals that have been tested for toxicity by standard tests that resulted in weight gain in the animals at lower doses than those that caused any obvious toxicity. These chemicals included heavy metals, solvents, polychlorinated biphenols, organophosphates, phthalates, and bisphenol A. This is an aspect of the data that has generally been overlooked.”
Certain agricultural chemicals, glyphosate in particular, may also affect your weight by obliterating healthy gut bacteria. Recent research has shown that glyphosate causes extreme disruption of microbes’ functions and lifecycles, andpreferentially affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow… In the US, the vast majority of the glyphosate you’re consuming comes from genetically engineered (GE) sugar, corn, soy, and conventionally-grown desiccated wheat. Besides altering your gut flora, glyphosate also enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.
#4: Artificial Sweeteners
The business of artificial sweeteners is built on the idea that no- or low-calorie sugar substitutes will help you lose weight. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened “diet” foods and beverages tend to stimulate your appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.
Part of the problem is that artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking that it’s going to receive sugar (calories), and when the sugar doesn’t arrive, your body signals that it needs more, which results in carb cravings. This connection between sweet taste and increased hunger can be found in the medical literature going back at least two decades.
Artificial sweeteners also produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions9 that promote weight gain. A 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine10 is of particular relevance, as it offers a great historical summary of artificial sweeteners and the epidemiological and experimental evidence showing that artificial sweeteners tends to promote weight gain. It also illustrates that as usage of artificial sweeteners has risen, so has obesity rates. According to the author of the review:
“Intuitively, people choose non-caloric artificial sweeteners over sugar to lose or maintain weight… But do artificial sweeteners actually help reduce weight? Surprisingly, epidemiologic data suggest the contrary. Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain.”
Another study, cited in a recent Democrat & Chronicle article,11 “found that frequent drinkers of diet sodas had waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than non-drinkers of diet soda.”
Photo:Machholz at a recent water charges demonstration
Around this time last year I had to go to hospital for a kidney stone removal, The entire time in hospital was 15 days and I was for that time hooked up to the “Drip” When I asked what was in the drip I was told it was antibiotics apparently I needed it to ward off infection so I was told! I felt and still do that it was not agreeing with my system but I had no choice but to comply with the hospital doctors at the time ! Thankfully I am on the road to health again but I still a year later have some of this crap swirling around my body and I am told it could take up to one and a half years to get completely out of my system! However I have noticed a side effect, I have put on one and a half stone weight and I have NOT started to eat sweets, of any fast food crap and I could not shake off this extra weight no matter what I did ! I now have found an explanation as to why I have this extra weight ! reading the above article has opened my eyes ! This Compelling evidence suggests antibiotic overuse and obesity are intricately linked : Thankfully I am now beginning to lose this unwanted weight now !
PS I was about 12 stone 10 before hospital and I went up to 14 stone 2 over the next 4 months but now I am back down to 13.7 !
Take care all out there!