Factory farm feedlots have been sitting on a big secret for years. It’s a tried-and-true trick for fattening up livestock so they can make more cash from every cow, chicken, and pig (and it could be making YOU fat too, more on that in a moment).
They simply dump antibiotics into their food.
The drugs do double duty, helping to keep the animals just healthy enough to go to slaughter, and making them pack on extra pounds so they’re worth more money.
Unsurprisingly, antibiotics can sometimes do the same to humans, cause us to gain weight too.
The antibiotic link to a ballooning belly
You see antibiotics are equal opportunity killers. When you take one they don’t just target the bacteria making you sick, they kill off healthy gut bacteria too. And killing off good bugs allows the bacteria that cause you to gain weight to thrive.
The bad bugs pump out a chemical called propionic acid that can cause your weight to creep up in three ways…
- It kick starts cravings
- It causes you to feel hungry
- It induces inflammation, decreasing your calorie burn
We are learning that our gut bacteria (if you like trivia their technically called our microbiome) are FAR more important than we ever imagined. They don’t just play a role in digestion as many once believed.
Gut bug balance linked to MORE than just digestion
In fact, there’s evidence that our belly bugs are also linked to inflammation, weight control and even your risk for autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, memory loss and more.
So naturally keeping our gut bacteria in balance should be a top priority. Which is a big concern when you consider how dependent we’ve become on antibiotics. These days you’re likely to be handed an antibiotic prescription for every cough, sniffle or sneeze whether it’s truly needed or not.
With the cold weather setting in we’re headed into flu and cold season, or as I sometimes refer to it “antibiotic season” and you can bet that doctor’s telephones are starting to ring off the hook with folks calling to ask for antibiotics.
In my office we will be explaining to those callers that using antibiotics when they aren’t needed is dangerous. Unfortunately, in far too many offices they will be handed the prescription without ever seeing the doctor, and without a thought about the consequences.
Only take an antibiotic if it’s REALLY necessary
The vast majority of respiratory infections are actually colds which are caused by a virus. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses. If you’ve ever received an antibiotic for a cold and had it clear up in a week or so that’s because colds will clear up on their own in that time anyway, regardless of whether or not you’re taking an antibiotic.
There are times an antibiotic is called for, of course. But make sure that you really do need one before you take it. If you get sideswiped by a respiratory infection this season see your doctor in person, and if he or she gives you an antibiotic to take talk with him/her about whether or not it’s absolutely necessary.
(Personally, I find a soothing cup of tea is very comforting when I come down with the sniffles and sneezes, and zinc lozenges help you get better quicker too.)
If it turns out you do need to take the drug than by all means do. But make sure to take a probiotic with it and for several weeks afterward (I typically recommend for at least 4 to 8 weeks). Look for a quality probiotic with at least 5 to 60 billion organisms, and preferably with Saccharomyces boulardii among them.
Dr. Masley has received the award of Fellow from three prestigious organizations: the American Heart Association, the American College of Nutrition, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, and he teaches programs at Eckerd College and the University of Tampa. In 2010, he received the physician Health Care Hero award by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, plus he has received several awards for his lifestyle related research. Dr. Masley sees patients from across North America at the Masley Optimal Health Center in St Petersburg, FL.
Dr. Masley has published several health books, including Smart Fat, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, and Ten Years Younger, and numerous scientific articles. His work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, the Today Show, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), plus over 250 media interviews. He also completed a chef internship at the Four Seasons Restaurant in Seattle, WA, and he has performed cooking demonstrations at Canyon Ranch, the Pritikin Longevity Center, and for multiple television appearances.
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