I guess you CAN have too much of a good thing, particularly if that good thing is antibiotics. I mean, at first everybody was like, hooray! Take that, scarlet fever! And antibiotics were a really good thing, cause they got rid of all kinds of nasty stuff that used to kill people. Then, sadly, we went so overboard on the stuff for so many years, antibiotics are now causing problems instead of just fixing them: The terrifyingly named "superbugs," for example, like the new bionic gonorrhea, and now ... obesity?
According to some microbiologists, antibiotics are contributing to the obesity epidemic by "killing off gut bacteria that would otherwise help digest food." A recent study found that infants who were given antibiotics before the age of 6 months "consistently added more body mass years later." And cattle farmers figured out long ago that a steady diet of antibiotics packs the pounds on cows. (They plump ... before you cook 'em!)
Oh, and guess what? It gets worse!
See, it works like this. Antibiotics cause changes in the body. (Obviously, right? Otherwise they probably wouldn't be all that effective.) But they can make unwelcome changes to what's called the "microbiome," basically the microbe communities in our bodies that regulate metabolism and a bunch of other important stuff.
And those unwelcome changes have been linked to lots of other issues besides obesity, such as cancer, autism and heart disease.
Yup. So, that's some scary information, isn't it? I'm not sure what to do with it myself. Only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary, I guess? (Like when you have a kidney infection or gangrene?)
Do you think antibiotics are making us fat?
Image via ALEGNA MARIE/Flickr