By Dr Mercola
You may know, and you may have already experienced this, that antibiotics can cause diarrhea.
This is because antibiotics by design disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract, often killing beneficial and harmful microorganisms indiscriminately.
It is through this same mechanism that antibiotics can also cause you to put on extra pounds.
In fact, Dr. Martin Blaser, professor of microbiology at Langone Medical Center at New York University, suggests that antibiotics can permanently changing your gut bacteria and interfering with important hunger hormones secreted by your stomach, leading to increased appetite and body mass index (BMI).
Antibiotics lead to increased body fat and hunger hormones
Dr. Blaser’s research has shown that 18 months after using antibiotics to eradicate the H. pylori bacteria, there are:
- 6-fold increase in the release of ghrelin (“the hunger hormone”) after a meal
- 20% increase in leptin levels (leptin is a hormone produced by fatty tissue)
- 5% increase in BMI
Ghrelin levels should normally fall after a meal to signal your brain that you are full and ready to stop eating an increase would therefore essentially tell your brain to continue eating, causing weight gain. Additionally, increased leptin levels are cause for concern as overexposure to high levels of the hormone can cause leptin resistance, which means your body is unable to hear leptin signals properly.
The way your body stores fat is a highly regulated process that is primarily controlled by leptin. If you gain excess weight, the extra fat produces extra leptin which should alert your brain that your body is storing too much fat and needs to burn the excess.
To do this, signals are sent to your brain to stop being hungry and stop eating. When you become resistant to leptin, your body can no longer hear these messages – so it stays hungry and stores more fat.
Interestingly, you can easily become leptin resistant by eating the typical American diet full of sugar (especially fructose), refined grains and processed foods… which, like antibiotics, will upset the balance of bacteria in your gut.
Farmers use antibiotics to quickly fatten cattle
About 70 percent of all antibiotics produced are used in agriculture – not necessarily to fight the disease, but rather to promote weight gain.
As indicated by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs:
“Continued administration of a low dose of an antibiotic may increase the rate and effectiveness of weight gain in healthy cattle. The presence of antibiotics probably alters the composition of the intestinal flora to promote growth. A debate is underway on how the intestinal flora is modified; the change may simply be a reduction in the number, a change in the composition of the species, or a combination of both.
… Some antibiotics can also improve food intake and growth by stimulating metabolic processes in animals. “
Unfortunately, this practice also contributes to the alarming spread of antibiotic-resistant diseases. When it comes to your weight, there’s plenty of reason to believe that this same phenomenon also occurs in humans, figuratively turning Americans into fat calves.
Your gut bacteria and your waistline go hand in hand
Dr. Blaser’s research, for example, found that mice fed antibiotics (at doses similar to those given to children for throat or ear infections) had significant increase in body fat although their diet remains unchanged.
Several studies have actually shown that obese people have different gut bacteria than thin people, and that changing the microbial balance in your gut can influence your weight. Here are six of those studies:
- When rats were given lactic acid bacteria while they were in utero until adulthood, they gain much less weight than other rats eating the same high calorie diet. They also had lower levels of minor inflammation, associated with obesity.
- Babies with a high number of bifidobacteria and low number of Staphylococcus aureus – which can cause low-grade inflammation in your body, contributing to obesity – seemed to be protected from excessive weight gain. This may be one of the reasons breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity, as bifidobacteria thrive in the intestines of breastfed babies.
- Two studies found that obese people had about 20% more of a family of bacteria known as Firmicutes and almost 90% less of bacteria called Bacteroidetes than lean people. Firmicutes help your body extract calories from complex sugars and deposit those calories in fat. When these microbes were transplanted into mice of normal weight, those mice began to gain twice as much fat.
- Obese people were able to reduce their abdominal fat by almost 5%, and their subcutaneous fat over 3 percent, simply drink a fermented milk drink rich in probiotics for 12 weeks.
- It has been found that probiotics (good bacteria) benefit of metabolic syndrome, which often goes hand in hand with obesity.
- Probiotics May Also Be Beneficial In Helping Women lose weight after childbirth when taken from the first trimester until breastfeeding.
Healthy gut bacteria cannot coexist with antibiotics
Antibiotics can save your life if you develop a severe bacterial infection, but it is important that you resist the urge to ask your doctor for a prescription for every ear, nose, or throat infection. The same goes for a cold or the flu. Antibiotics are useless against viral infections like these, and when used for this purpose, they will only harm your health by killing good bacteria from your gut.
The use of antibiotics has become so common in the United States that a single set of drugs may not seem like much, but remember that their use dramatically changes the makeup of bacteria in your gut, which will need to be rebuilt for you to stay. . in good health. Whenever you use an antibiotic, you also increase your susceptibility to developing infections with resistance to that antibiotic – and you can become the bearer of this resistant bug and even disseminate it to others.
Ultimately, the problem of antibiotic overuse needs to be curbed by public policies at the national level, especially in the farming community, but I urge you to also take your personal responsibilities and assess your own use of antibiotics, and to avoid taking them – or giving them. to your children – unless it is absolutely necessary.
Keep in mind that the foods you eat are also a major source of exposure to antibiotics, so to protect your gut bacteria you should buy mostly meat and organic products without antibiotics. Keep in mind that conventionally farmed foods are often grown in fertilizers derived from farm animal waste and human sewage, which can be a source of contamination with antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The recipe for healthy gut bacteria
Your gut bacteria are vulnerable to your lifestyle. If you eat a lot of processed foods, for example, your gut bacteria will be compromised because processed foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeasts.
In addition to antibiotics, your gut bacteria are also very sensitive:
- Chlorinated water
- Antibacterial soap
- Agricultural chemicals
Because virtually all of us are exposed to it at least occasionally, ensuring that your gut bacteria stay balanced should be considered an ongoing process, and consuming fermented foods is one of the best ways to do it.
One of the reasons fermented foods are so beneficial is that they contain lactic acid bacteria – a type of beneficial gut bacteria that research shows can help you stay slim.
I have said for a long time that it is generally a wise choice to ‘reseed’ your body with good bacteria every now and then by taking a high quality probiotic supplement or by eating unpasteurized, traditionally. fermented foods such as:
- Lassi (an Indian yogurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
- Fermented organic pasture raw milk, such as kefir
- Various marinated cabbage fermentations, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash and carrots
- Natto (I am fermented)
If you do not consume fermented foods on a regular basis, a high-quality probiotic supplement can be extremely helpful in helping to maintain healthy gut bacteria when you stray from your healthy diet and consume an excess of grains or sugar, or if you need to take antibiotics.
Also, remember that it is vital to eliminate ALL sugars. They will sabotage any beneficial effects of fermented foods, as they will act as nutrients for pathogenic yeast, fungi, and bacteria that are in your gut.