Antibiotic-Free Diet for Health and Weight Loss?

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Let me state from the outset of this post that I am a layperson when it comes to nutritional health research. However, that does not prevent me from accessing the vast amounts of information online and elsewhere (and taking a college class in nutrition here and there) in my quest for answers to my insatiable desire to learn more about health.

I recently watched Dr. Oz’s show and his interview with Dr. Martin Blaser regarding the deleterious effects of over-used antibiotics on human health and obesity.1  Not only is there a link between prescribed antibiotics and obesity in America, but antibiotics in our meats, dairy products and eggs seem to be a problem, as well. (I highly recommend that you watch Dr. Oz’s program to learn more. See link in references below.)

Why do antibiotics that make us fat? Sharon Begley references Dr. Martin Blaser in a 2013 Reader’s Digest article: “The rise of obesity around the world is coincident with widespread antibiotic use,” says Dr. Blaser. “Early exposure to antibiotics may prime children for obesity later in life.”

Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria that cause infection, so sometimes you need to take them. However, those same antibiotics kill a lot of the good bacteria in the gut, as well. Studies show that a deficit of healthy, probiotic flora in the intestinal tract causes or leads to weight gain.2

To make matters worse, some antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin) can increase the prostaglandin ghrelin in the body as much as six times. Ghrelin increases hunger, which leads to overeating. Ghrelin also increases abdominal fat.3

Sharon Begley further explains the reason farmers add antibiotics to food: “The drugs alter the gut bacteria in cattle, pigs, and other animals, substituting bacteria that are better at extracting maximum calories from feed, which makes the animals plump up.”4 If antibiotics make humans fat, of course they make animals fat and when we consume animal products pumped full of antibiotics, they must be making us fat. I should have made the connection before.

This means that our intestinal flora could control whether or not we gain or lose weight. Research shows that thin people have a greater number of bacteroidetes (good bacteria or probiotics) in their intestinal tract than overweight people.

So, my question is: How do we increase the bacteroidetes in our guts?

Ray Sahelian, MD wrote on April 6, 2014 that ingesting the probiotics like acidophilus could replace the harmful bacteria in the gut.5

Another way to increase bacteroidetes in your intestinal tract is to consume raw, whole, unpasteurized, grass-fed, antibiotic-free cow’s or goat’s milk. These types of milk contain the probiotics acidophilus and lactobacillus, as well as the enzymes necessary for digesting proteins in the milk.6 As some of you know, I have been on a mission to locate raw goat or cow milk, because I am allergic to dairy products. I wanted to find out if I would have the same allergies to unpasteurized milks. I have recently had the joy of purchasing a share of a cow and am reaping the benefits of freely consuming delicious, whole, raw dairy products without a single allergic side effects! (And for those of you wondering, it is an A1/A2 Jersey cow.)

To further increase bacteroidetes in your intestinal tract you can consume more prebiotics, a type of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in your gut. According to microbiologist Andrew Gewirtz of George State University, bacteroidetes increase in the presence of fructans. Fructans (short for Fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS) are the compounds found in asparagus, artichokes, garlic, and onions.7 FOS or Fructans are also found in high amounts in Jerusalem artichoke, blue agave, chickory, bananas, barley, wheat, jicama, and leeks. Interestingly, FOS has been used as a sweetener in Japan for years.8 This may possibly be yet another key to the mystery of trim, healthy cultures.

I, like so many thousands of other people in America, have been consuming lean chicken breasts and egg whites in order to lose weight and inches of fat, not realizing until Dr. Oz’s interview with Dr. Blaser that the antibiotics in the meat could be inhibiting my efforts. Since that show, I have begun making the switch to organic proteins. Of all diets this is probably one of the healthiest and easiest, so I might as well experiment on myself. (By the way, organic means antibiotic-free when it comes to meat, dairy and eggs.) After nearly two weeks I am still not completely antibiotic-free, because I don’t want to waste the foods I have already purchased. As soon as we finish up the antibiotic-infused foods in our house I’ll really get down to testing this antibiotic-free diet.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and if any others of you are trying the “antibiotic-free diet” or have been on it for some time already, I’d love to hear from you. I have a lot of questions: Is it working for you? Have you lost weight? Have you been able to keep it off? Have you lost fat? Have you lost inches? Have you gained muscle mass? Are you healthier? Is your immune system stronger?

Thanks for reading!

1. http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/fat-drug-how-antibiotics-make-you-gain-weight

2. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265434.php)

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520055519.htm

4. Begley, Sharon. “When Germs are the Good Guys.” Reader’s Digest. October 2013: p. 112.

5. http://www.raysahelian.com/bacteroidetes.html

6. http://www.robinsonfarm.org/FactsRawMilk.html

7. Begley, Sharon. “When Germs are the Good Guys.” Reader’s Digest. October 2013: p. 111

8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructooligosaccharide

Can Moving to a Blue Zone Cure Disease?

Dan Buettner is the author of the book, The Blue Zones and founder of Blue Zones, a longevity research foundation established to identify populations throughout the world who suffer low rates of disease and live well into their nineties and perhaps one-hundreds.

So far, Mr. Beuttner and his team have identified five communities they have labeled “Blue Zones,” areas where people are healthy, happy, and live long lives. As of today, these communities are:

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California (in a Seventh-Day Adventist community)
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Sardinia, Italy[i][ii]

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably read the New York Times story by Dan Beuttner titled, The Island Where People Forget to Die. It’s a fascinating account of a man named Moraitis who was born in Ikaria, Greece and moved to New York in 1943. Thirty-three years later he was diagnosed with lung cancer and given nine months to live. He was in his mid-sixties. He decided to forego popular cancer treatments and return to his island of Ikaria to die in peace. Over the course of six months, he gradually regained his strength and ambition. He reconnected with his faith, friends, family, culture, and relaxed island lifestyle. He kept on living for years and at ninety-seven years of age he was cancer free. The article doesn’t say exactly when he became cancer free, but from the sound of things, his health was being restored and cancer was being eradicated from his body within months of living in Ikaria.[iii]

I have been following these Blue Zone stories on Dr. Oz’s show and website, bluezones.com, sommunity.sw.org, and other sites on the internet. The Blue Zone goal appears to be to identify specific attributes of healthy, happiness and longevity in certain population in order that others throughout the world can learn from, copy, and attain those populations and become just as healthy and happy.

This is a worthy goal. To copy the diets and lifestyles is very possibly beneficial to many people—at least, that’s what we hope. But is this sufficient? There are many factors involved in the health of a Blue Zone. It’s not just diet, not just lifestyle; there’s when people eat, how relaxed people are when they eat, portion sizes, conversations occurring during meals, climate, weather, being outdoors, how much sunshine people get on their skin…. I could go on and on.

Has anyone already moved to a blue zone and cured his or her disease? If so, I’d like to read about it or follow someone’s online blog journey to healing in a Blue Zone. I mean, for those suffering from serious diseases, is it enough to merely copy the diets and lifestyles of Blue Zone peoples and remain living in one’s same city or town? It’s the best most of us can do, I know, but don’t you think it might be prudent to conduct a grand experiment with volunteers who are willing to move to various Blue Zone, immerse themselves in the five distinct cultures, and possibly experience a higher than average chance of healing?

Of course, there are questions to be answered regarding such an experiment (not the least of which is cost), but I’ll save those questions for a future blog and leave you to mull over the idea for a while. I, for one, would love to move to a Blue Zone for several months to see if various health problems and issues lessened. I can dream, can’t I? And you have to admit it does sound fun! And I’m serious about those who have either lived in Blue Zones or who are living in them now. Wouldn’t it be great to hear how those people are faring health-wise?

The Skinny on Animal Fats

Contrary to popular belief, when a person eats the fat from an organic animal (including butter, milk, and cream), there is a decrease in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, inflammation, blood sugar (insulin) imbalance, cancer, weight gain, and stored body fat. In other words, eating organic, grass-fed beef and milk/cream/butter from such cows helps to prevent weight/fat gain and prevents disease.
Butter and cream from pasture fed cows contains a form of rearranged Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), which has strong anticancer properties.  It also encourages the buildup of muscle and prevents weight gain.  CLA disappears when cows are fed even small amounts of grain and processed food. They must be fed grass only to produce milk with CLA.
The fat in whole milk contains glycosphinogolipids, a type of fat that protects against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the very young and the elderly. (For most people, the butter does not have to be raw or organic to obtain the benefits, but due to my dairy fat allergy, I find that raw and/or cultured butter fat is the only milk fat I can digest without allergy complications.)
Both butter fat and coconut oil contain medium chain fatty acids, a saturated fat that is antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-tumoral, and is supportive to the immune system. One can eat a small amount of butterfat or large amounts of coconut oil to get this into his/her system. (For most people, the butter does not have to be raw or organic to obtain the benefits, but due to my dairy fat allergy, I find that raw and/or cultured butter fat is the only milk fat I could eat at first without allergy complications. As I heal my gut, I’m able to enjoy more raw, organic dairy products without reactions.)
Butter contains a perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Most people get too many omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in organic, free-range chicken eggs (not in commercial eggs), fish, walnuts, and flax seeds. Omega 3s reduce inflammation in the body, help to prevent arthritis and depression, and many other good things.
Most Americans get too many omega 6 fatty acids in their diet and relation to omega 3s. We need both, but they need to be in balance to be healthy. Omega 6 fatty acids are from vegetable oils, like canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, sesame, peanut, and soy.  Too much omega 6 in the diet leads to:
·         cardiovascular disease
·         type 2 diabetes
·         obesity
·         metabolic syndrome
·         irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
·         macular degeneration
·         rheumatoid arthritis
·         asthma
·         cancer
·         psychiatric disorders