Before you read on, you should know something about me: I am not an ideological 'anti' antibiotics person. Until fairly recently, I was clueless about antibiotics, and thought the pink stuff was only good for people.
Then, I started to get into healthier eating and the whole holistic lifestyle thing, and that's when I started to hear 'antibiotics are bad' being rung out from the rafters. I've heard so many conflicting bits of information about so many things that these days, I don't take anything just on someone else's say-so: I always try to check it out myself, as much as possible, before coming to an opinion - and I encourage you to do the same.
With that preamble out the way, I found out some very interesting stuff about antibiotics this week, that I want to share with you. It's in a book called 'The Second Brain', by Dr Michael Gershon, which I picked up because I wanted to learn more about the stomach (the 'second brain' referred to in the title).
99% of the serotonin in your body is made by your stomach
Dr Gershon is an MD and medical researcher, who specialises in the gut. One of the really interesting things I learned from that book is that 99% of the Serotonin your body makes is made by the stomach - which kind of blows a huge hole in the claim that low serotonin levels in the brain are causing depression. (But I digress…)
Another interesting thing I learned was that the body's colon, or large intestine, is permanently colonised by a whole bunch of potentially nasty bacteria including the infamous E-coli, and few billion other things, besides.
The body gets rid of a lot these innate bacteria by evacuating the bowel (how's that for a nice way of saying it?) But there's always billions and trillions of the potentially nasty bacteria left in the colon, that keep multiplying away like crazy.
Another way that the body keeps the numbers of these bad bacteria down is by encouraging them to fight it out. This strain of E-coli starts bashing that strain of streptococcus on the head, and then it's a fight to the death.
The growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria
Of course, there's also good bacteria in there too (mostly in the gut, as opposed to the colon), and they do helpful things like help us to digest our food properly, and keep our immune system strong.
When you take antibiotics, which by their very nature wipe out most bacteria in the body, indiscriminately, you get rid of a huge number of the 'baddies', and also take out most of the 'goodies', too.
The problem is this: they don't take out every 'baddie', because some bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. So now, all the competing 'baddies' just got wiped out by the pink stuff, as did the 'goodies', which leaves the 'baddie' antibiotic-resistant bacteria as the undisputed kings of the colon.
They carry on replicating like Larry, with nothing to stop them or check them, and because they're already resistant to antibiotics, if it ever gets to the point that they start to overwhelm the immune system, you could be in real trouble, God forbid.
That's the bad news. The good news is, there's lots of things you can do to:
a) mitigate your need for antibiotics in the first place; and
b) boost your immune system and repopulate your good bacteria asap, should you need to take antibiotics.
I'll tell you what they are in the next post.