What’s causing your weight gain? You might have picked up the culprit at your pharmacy.
Antibiotics are wonder drugs that have changed the face of medicine and saved countless lives over the past 70 years or so. However, no drugs can be used without long-term consequences. Scientists are discovering an unexpected side effect of antibiotic use.
Antibiotics kill bacteria — which is a good thing when you are afflicted with bad bacteria that is causing you infection and illness. Unfortunately, they are not “smart bombs” that know to seek out and kill only the bad guys. They kill bacteria, period. That includes the crucial bacteria in your digestive system.
Dr. Martin Blaser of New York University Langone Medical Center has studied the effects of antibiotics for Helicobactor pylori on the gut bacteria. He says the antibiotics interfere with the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and the counterpart fullness hormone, leptin. Mice given antibiotics got fatter than untreated mice, even though they were fed the same diet.
This is bad news for America’s kids, considering that the average child will receive 10 to 20 courses of antibiotics before his 18th birthday. Hmmm. And the number of obese kids has tripled over the last years. Wonder if there is a connection?
Changes in gut bacteria have also been linked to risk factors for allergies, asthma and diabetes.
So should you give your child antibiotics? Should you take them yourself? If a life-threatening infection is involved, the answer is an unquestioning “yes.” Many doctors, unfortunately, tend to prescribe antibiotics on a just-in-case basis. If your immune system is working right, you don’t need them. Your body knows how to attack the bad bacteria and get rid of the intruders all by itself. Many of the annoying and unpleasant symptoms of illness are signs of your body doing just that. The fever is you may experience is your body burning off the viruses and bacteria. Diarrhea is flushing them out of your system. A drippy nose means the bad guys are on the run.
Give your body a chance to get over an illness by itself first, taking care to get plenty of rest, liquids, and good supplements. If you can’t shake it and your ailment keeps getting worse, then it is time to call out the heavy artillery and take the antibiotics.
And if you do have to take them, you can help stop some of the damage by making sure you replace the gut bacteria with pre and probiotics. Eating Greek yogurt might help with that, but taking good supplements is a more sure course.
Sometimes it seems that everything has a side effect and tends to put on the pounds. What you don’t know CAN hurt you, though, so we will do our best to keep you posted on the latest studies.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown