If you’ve done much research on gut health, you already know that antibiotics, even when prescribed and used correctly, can really do a number on your digestive health. While they’re killing off the pathogens they were meant to eliminate, antibiotics also rid your body of helpful bacteria and other friendly microbes.
This microbial community that lives inside us, our microbiome, is incredibly important to our health as humans. It helps with and even does the work of dozens of body processes.
Ideally, we start life with a healthy, balanced microbiome. It evolves with us over time and helps to keep our nutrition cycles and immune system working properly.
So if your doctor prescribed antibiotics for you, you may want to ask him or her if they are really necessary. Sometimes they may be. But in many cases, antibiotics don’t speed up healing. You can get well just as quickly without them.
If you’re taking antibiotics, you should begin taking probiotics right away and attempt to get your body back into balance when the course of medication is complete. Taking a good multistrain probiotic during the course of the treatment will support your body’s normal physiology. Continuing to take a high dose, multistrain probiotic after the course of care creates a healthier environment for new growth and a re-population of beneficial bacteria in the future.
But there’s a bigger ongoing issue in our society, that’s not always so obvious. If you’re eating commercially raised meat, eggs, or dairy products, you are already consuming low doses of antibiotics every day.
You see, factory farming is not a healthy environment for these animals. The horrendous overcrowding these creatures must endure creates perfect circumstances for the spread of sickness and disease. To prevent illness in the flock or herd, antibiotics are added to the livestock’s food. Makes sense, right?
Well, this is a strategy that simply covers up a problem that should have been solved by now. And this consistent low dose of antibiotics is creating superbugs that are very difficult to control.
At some point, the factory farmers discovered that low dose antibiotics help livestock to gain weight more quickly than they would otherwise. And since meat is usually sold by the pound, cheap pharmaceuticals can add a lot to profit margins.
More than 80% of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in the agriculture industry. Millions of pounds of drugs are added to our food supply every year. And these drugs never appear on ingredients labels, so we aren’t even aware of them being there.
But it’s not just livestock production practices that mess with human gut health. The development of hybridized wheat has also added to the problem.
Bread is usually made from wheat because wheat contains lots of gluten proteins. The gluten particles are very sticky. This is what allows the bread to stick together, creating a well-formed loaf. Without gluten, the bread would be more likely to crumble and fall apart.
But ‘progress’ has helped create wheat strains with even more gluten than ever before. Scientists tell us that ancient wheat was made up of about 20% gluten, whereas today’s hybridized strains are closer to 65%. This is a completely different plant than anything our ancestors ate.
And gluten is very hard for humans to digest. The increased density of gluten in wheat today allows for more incompletely digested proteins within the GI tract, including glutens, which are very damaging to the gut lining.
In addition to loosening the tight junctions between the cells making up your intestinal wall, glutens have a tendency to stir up your immune system. An inflammatory cascade can begin to occur within you, which can lead to health issues anywhere in your body: often in an organ or gland that has already become weakened and susceptible.
Grainfields offer yet another gut health obstacle.
Weeds are a farmer’s nightmare, adding to their fuel and equipment costs and to their workload. So herbicides were invented to take care of the weeds.
But to be effective, the seed companies needed to get the crop plants to survive being sprayed with weed killer. Enter genetically modified seeds, resistant to glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup®.
Having Roundup-Ready crops in the field meant that more and more glyphosate is being used on our food. Glyphosate doesn’t just kill weeds. When we eat food that has been treated with this herbicide, it acts very similarly to antibiotics in our digestive tract. Unless it is labeled as organic, all commercially grown wheat is treated with Roundup before harvest.
And we already know that is a problem.
So, even though on the surface it may seem expensive to buy organically raised and produced groceries, the long-term savings in our health and medical budget are more than worth it.