Chronic health problems are increasing.
According to the World Health Organization, chronic disease prevalence is expected to rise by 57% by the year 2020.
But why is it?
Especially when some populations and countries are barely seeing any changes at all? Well there are a huge number of factors (diet and stress and lifestyle especially), but one very important area is related to our gut bacteria, and antibiotics…
Out guts are home to a huge number of bacteria of different types.
There are both good and bad (“beneficial” and “pathogenic”) strains of bacteria in your gut and its critically important for your health that you have plenty of the good guys and very few (if any) of the bad.
If that balance is out of whack, then your immune system will be compromised and your health will suffer.
The good bacteria in our guts play a wide variety of roles and to some extent almost define who we are…
They are used to break down and digest our food, affect our immune system and intestinal health, help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and other infections, aid detoxification, control metabolism, affect our energy levels, and have a significant effect on our mood.
Unfortunately, certain factors play a role in harming our good bacteria levels (which leaves us exposed to many health problems).
Things such as diet, stress, medication and toxin exposure (from products we use each day) all do have an impact on our bacteria levels.
However, in my mind there is no greater explanation than the over use of antibiotics…
Antibiotics seem to be prescribed for anything and everything now days (even if someone is not suffering from a bacterial problem).
Now don’t get me wrong, they have provided a huge amount of value to the world in helping to stamp out some major health problems.
But when you take a course of antibiotics you can pretty much wipe out the good bacteria levels within your gut.
Because your good bacteria levels are so important for your health, by wiping them out you actually leave yourself exposed to more problems and more infections in the future.
Clostridium Difficile, for example, is something that many people experience after taking antibiotics and it can be truly awful.
Diarrhoea too is very common, and are many other issues.
Because of this, there are 3 recommendations I would generally make regarding antibiotics...
Are they needed?
Always ask the person prescribing you with antibiotics whether or not they are REALLY needed.
Quite often, they aren’t.
In fact, sometimes a doctor knows they aren’t needed but prescribes them anyway because he thinks the patient wants to walk away with something (yes, really).
Bottom line…never take them unless absolutely necessary.
A course of antibiotics should normally be accompanied with (and followed by) a course of good quality probiotics and fermented foods.
These can help to start replacing the good bacteria that has been lost.