sharing knowledge; enhancing wellbeing.
So, what are you having for dinner tonight? Beef? Perhaps. Antibiotics? Likely! Did you know that unless you buy organic and/or antibiotic free meat/fish/dairy/eggs that you ARE consuming antibiotics? “Good idea,” you say? “It will keep me healthy!” Not so much…
I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but I want this post to serve as a reminder that unnecessary antibiotic consumption is harmful to you and consequently to the planet. Because so many of us are consuming antibiotics on a daily basis without thinking twice about it (via the oh-so-wonderful factory farm meat industry), using “antibacterial” soaps/gels to clean our hands, asking our doctors for them, or taking them when our doctor has prescribed them without actually getting a culture and diagnosing a BACTERIAL infection, our planet is flooded with excess antibiotics. Even our water supply is now tainted with antibiotics (amongst other pharmaceuticals, via our urine – gross!). Why should you care? Read on…
One: Superbugs. Being exposed to antibiotics/antibacterials all of the time results in the creation of superbugs. This is because the weaker strains die, leaving behind the stronger, more resistant strains, which then continue producing even stronger and more resistant strains. Further, antibiotics/antibacterials kill off the good bacteria in your system, which makes it more difficult for your body to maintain a healthy bacteria balance. What’s more, the increase in the incidence of allergies and asthma likely has something to do with the fact that we are in “super clean” environments now, which doesn’t allow for us to build up immunity to allergens. So, maybe you don’t need to scrub your house with all of those fancy chemical products after all? I wonder what our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers used to clean?
Two: Our second brain – the gut! It is actually fascinating how much that we rely on this area of our body to provide our brains with information (I won’t totally geek out on this topic here, but perhaps in a future post if anyone is interested)! The basic idea that you need to understand is that there is a host of good microflora (a nicer word for bacteria) that lives in our guts, and keeps us healthy! I’m sure you’ve heard all of the great information about probiotics lately. In fact, a smart doctor would actually prescribe probiotics and antibiotics together! Probiotics are used to help to build up and maintain healthy gut microflora, and help you ward off infection, inflammation, and illness! When you consume antibiotics, you not only kill any bad bacteria that might be hanging out, but you also abolish the good. Doing so can result in a number of issues, including obesity via overeating, and even mental health issues!
So, with all of this information, my challenge to you is to do what you reasonably can to eliminate antibiotics and unnatural antibacterials. How, you ask?
One: BUY ORGANIC. I can’t stress this enough. There are so many reasons to buy organic, but this one is crucial, not only for you, but for generations to come. Some people consider the extra money that they will spend on organic food similar to paying for health insurance in that you are essentially providing your body with “preventative medicine” straight from the earth. Further, you are protecting yourself and the planet from toxic substances. Unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to find organic products that you’d like to consume. For example, I was recently in Massachusetts and attempted to buy organic chicken at the local supermarket. Surprisingly, the butcher didn’t even know what organic was (he pointed me to “natural” chicken – which could mean anything!), and the closest I could find was hormone-free, and (luckily) antibiotic-free. It was a good start… But, if you are regularly shopping at a store that doesn’t carry the items that you need, just ask them to begin making it available. You are the consumer – you get to choose where you spend your money!
Two: Only take antibiotics when you have a BACTERIAL infection. How do you know if your illness is caused by bacteria? You need to visit your doctor and get a culture. Only when the results of the culture indicate that the infection is bacterial is it okay to take an antibiotic… However, despite this being the “gold-standard of practice” it is important to realize that sometimes you can fight off the infection with alternative treatments as opposed to killing off everything in your system. What’s worse, sometimes doctors will prescribe antibiotics without even diagnosing a bacterial infection. This could be because the patient requests it, or to appease the patient via a “placebo effect” (taking a pill makes people better due to psychological processes that affect immunology – really cool concept!). However, this is unnecessary, and may even make things worse because of the good bacteria die off. So, do antibiotics work for viruses?? NO! I recommend a daily dose of probiotics (you can find them at your local health care store) in order to maintain healthy gut flora.
Three: Stop using that darned antibacterial gel/soap! Seriously. Stop. Regular soap and hot water can do the trick. I know we are all busy so the gel is easier. Trust me. I get it. But, I urge you to think about this – we didn’t have antibacterial gels/soaps when we were growing up and we are fine! We didn’t need to wipe down our carts at the grocery store before entering. We didn’t need to squirt gel on our hands every time we touched something we considered to be dirty. We just washed our hands with plain old soap and water at the next opportunity. Don’t buy into the marketing and the incessant drive to be pristinely clean. And, if you do need to use “antibacterial” products, go the natural route. I see patients back-to-back on some days, shaking hands with them without being able to wash my hands afterwards. This is my favorite product to sanitize: Clean Well (and it smells great!).
Good luck in your quest to do your part in helping solve the “antibacterial” crisis!