Prediction: antibiotics will one day be seen in the same way as Thalidomide – a drug prescribed with no idea of the horrific long-term consequences.
Why such an alarmist prediction? Although antibiotics save thousands of lives every day they are also now linked some of the biggest health challenges of our age such as diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Perhaps even more frightening, antibiotics also set the stage for a ‘sick brain’ because of their connection with leaky gut and inflammation. This leads to conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder, depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.
There is no question that antibiotics have been a game-changing godsend. There are probably some of you reading this who wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for antibiotics.
The problem is that we’re taking way too many of them, and we’re not stopping to consider the growing evidence of the long-term damage they cause.
Antibiotics Lead to Inflammation
Three things are now becoming clear from scientific studies:
1. Our microbiome is vital to our health. Check out What Is My Microbiome And Why Does It Matter. Among other things it regulates our immune system, stopping it from ‘overheating’ with too much inflammation.
2. When it comes to killing bacteria, antibiotics not only take out the bad guys, they also take out the good guys. This makes our microbiome ‘sick’, meaning that there are not enough different kinds of of good bacteria, and bad bacteria have the upper hand. In turn this leads to leaky gut and inflammation around the body.
3. Inflammation has been identified as a root cause of health problems as diverse as Crohn’s Disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and cancer.
Imagine Your Body As A Factory
Imagine your body as a factory with lots of different floors and departments. You are the boss sitting in your corner office with a cool view over the city.
Your workers are beavering away happily and the factory is ticking over as it should do.
One day you turn up and half your workers have disappeared. You don’t notice immediately because the building still looks the same. But gradually you notice that something is wrong. Tasks aren’t getting done like before.
Supplies are still coming in but they’re not being processed properly. Soon they’re piling up, making the place messy and causing you to trip over.
Your manufacturing and sales departments seemed to have stopped talking to each other. Stuff is being produced to sell but it just hangs around without being sold. Soon you’re carrying way too much stock and can’t get rid of it.
Your marketing and PR departments are acting all weird, getting confused over who your competitors are. One day they even suggest that the real enemies are other departments inside the factory.
As the boss you like to keep a close watch on every department and they send you regular memos to keep you updated. But gradually you realise that the memos don’t really make sense. Something’s off.
Eventually you too start making erratic decisions. For some reason you just can’t focus like you used to.
Soon the factory is at risk of total bankruptcy and collapse.
This is how it is in our own body: we take antibiotics and at first everything appears the same as before, all systems normal. But gradually more and more problems emerge:
- Your digestion doesn’t work smoothly and foods that you used to enjoy suddenly irritate you.
- Your immune system gets confused, overreacting to peanuts or pollen, and autoimmune conditions follow, like multiple sclerosis or psoriasis.
- You’re carrying excess body weight, you exercise and follow standard dietary advice but you can’t seem to to lose it.
- You have brain fog and your mood is off, or you suddenly have anxiety attacks that you’d never had before. In children we see it as autism or ADHD. When we’re older it shows up as Alzheimers or Parkinson’s
Also check out my post: How Do I Know If My Gut Is Unhealthy
Antibiotics wreak shock-and-awe devastation on our gut and friendly bacteria.
These friendly bacteria have been called our ‘forgotten organ’ because they are so closely connected to how our body functions that they can be considered a part of us. Should we really treat a part of ourselves with such casual disregard?
In my gut-health coaching practice I commonly see people with combinations of these problems, including bowel issues, overweight and autoimmunity together with anxiety, migraines or depression.
Most of them have a medical history that involves large quantities of antibiotics. As their conditions worsened they have often been prescribed more and more antibiotics, which is like pouring oil on a raging fire.
Yes, all these health conditions I’ve mentioned come about for a combination of different reasons. My point is that antibiotic use is a major contributory factor in all of them.
In my next post I’ll dig a little more into the science, and take a look at whether a damaged microbiome genuinely leads to these illnesses, or just follows from them.
Keep in mind that antibiotics should only be used when medically NECESSARY, on a case by case basis and as advised by your medical professional.