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Taking Antibiotics May Damage Your Gut Health

Posted on December 23rd, 2011 by author  |  Comments Off

AntibioticsDr. Joseph Mercola has always preached against heavy reliance on pharmaceutical drugs like antibiotics. Antibiotics may be useful when you have a severe bacterial infection, but did you know that this medication may also cause you to pack on the pounds?

Dr. Martin Blaser, a professor of microbiology at New York University Langone Medical Center, says that antibiotics may cause permanent changes to your gut bacteria by hindering important hunger hormones secreted by your stomach. This leads to increased appetite and body mass index (BMI) (link).

After 18 months of experimenting with antibiotics to eliminate H. pylori bacteria, Dr. Blaser discovered that there is a:

  • Six-fold increase in the release of ghrelin – the “hunger hormone” – after a meal. Normally, ghrelin levels fall after a meal, sending a signal to your brain that your body is full. Increased ghrelin levels caused by antibiotics prompt your brain to keep eating and make you gain weight.
  • Twenty percent increase in levels of leptin, a hormone created by fat tissues. Leptin controls the way your body stores fat. If you gain excess weight, the additional fat creates extra leptin that informs your brain that your body is storing too much fat and the excess must be burned off. Increased leptin levels can also be dangerous because it may produce leptin resistance, a condition where your body is unable to properly hear leptin signals. Dr. Mercola adds that leptin resistance may also occur when you ingest excessive amounts of sugar (particularly fructose), refined grains, and processed foods because they upset the balance of bacteria in your gut.
  • Five percent increase in BMI. Dr. Blaser’s experiment revealed that mice fed antibiotics dosages similar to those given to children for throat or ear infections had significant increases in body fat, even if their diets remaining unchanged.

The Perils of Using Antibiotics

“It’s important that you resist the urge to ask your physician for a prescription for every ear, nose, or throat infection you come down with; likewise for a cold or the flu. Antibiotics are useless against viral infections like these, and when used for this purpose will only harm your health by wiping out the good bacteria in your gut,” Dr. Mercola says.

In addition, using antibiotics also increases your chances of developing antibiotic-resistant infections. You may even become a carrier of this resistant bug and spread it to people around you!

But the sad truth this is that antibiotics are widely used in the agricultural community, This means that simply ingesting foods bought from the supermarket may expose you to antibiotics.

Antibiotics are Widely Used in Agriculture

About 70 percent of all the antibiotics manufactured are used in agriculture. They are not used to fight diseases but rather to promote weight gain. According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs:

 ”Continuous, low-dose administration of an antibiotic can increase the rate and efficiency of weight gain in healthy livestock. The presence of antibiotics likely changes the composition of the gut flora to favor growth. Debate is ongoing as to how gut flora are changed; change may simply be a reduction in numbers, a change in species composition or a combination of the two.

… Some antibiotics may also enhance feed consumption and growth by stimulating metabolic processes within the animal.” (link)

This practice greatly affects the spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases today. Your best option is to consume antibiotic-free, organically-raise meats and produce.

Maintaining Optimal Gut Health to Avoid Obesity

Having optimal levels of good bacteria in your gut is very important to maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity. This is why ingesting antibiotics, which may severely damage good bacteria, is not recommended. Aside from antibiotics, your gut bacteria are also sensitive to:

  • Antibacterial soap
  • Chlorinated water
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Pollution

Dr. Mercola says that to maintain an ideal ratio of good gut bacteria, you should consume fermented foods. Lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink), kefir made from organic grass-fed raw milk, fermented vegetables, and natto (fermented soybeans) are some healthful fermented foods you should try.

If it’s not possible for you to consume these foods regularly, Dr. Mercola recommends taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. He also advises avoiding excessive grain and sugar consumption.

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