Antibiotics and other antimicrobials are everywhere. Even if you are trying to avoid them, they are found in the majority of conventional meats, in our tap water, and in soaps, mouthwash, and toothpaste. It is difficult to avoid exposure, but the effort is a worthwhile endeavor.
Antibiotics Used in Meat Operations
It is estimated that more than 70% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by agricultural operations. These antibiotics are rarely used on sick animals; they are routinely used in livestock’s feed and water as a preventative measure. This practice allows overcrowding and unsanitary conditions to remain profitable for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs. Antibiotics are used in such high amounts that antibiotic residues can remain in the meat. Conventional meats are tested for “acceptable levels”.
Contaminated Tap Water
Antibiotics, other medications, and antibacterial soaps eventually find their way into our tap water. When our bodies eliminate waste, medications like antibiotics are flushed down the drain as well. Many contaminants such as solid waste are removed from the water in water treatment facilities, but these facilities do not remove medications from the water. Eventually the water is recycled back into the water supply. The amount of pharmaceuticals found in tap water is extremely low, but this still equates to exposure, and many suspect that this contamination could create new antibiotic resistant bacteria.
What Makes Antibacterial Soaps Antibacterial
Some of the most common antimicrobials added to antibacterial soaps are triclosan and triclocarban. These chemicals originally used in hospital settings are now found in all kinds of products. There is a growing concern that these chemicals create antibiotic resistant bacteria, but there are other problems associated with triclosan.
Triclosan acts as an endocrine disruptor in animal studies; it interferes with thyroid hormones. If it works in a similar fashion in humans, this could lead to serious health problems such as obesity, infertility, and even cancer.
Unfortunately these are not all of the problems associated with triclosan. Another study found triclosan interferes with muscle contractions in animals and in human muscle cells. This is of particular concern because the chemical penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream more easily than originally thought. A 2008 study done by the CDC detected triclosan in the urine of 75% of the people tested. Antibacterial soaps are the kinds of soaps most commonly found in public restrooms, but triclosan is also found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even yoga mats.
Heal Your Gut
After taking antibiotics or being exposed to antimicrobials you should take steps to restore healthy bacteria in your gut. Healthy bacteria is crucial to maintaining the balance between bacteria and fungi in our gut. Candida commonly mass produces after healthy bacteria have been killed off. A diet high in prebiotics and probiotics with foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, homemade unsweetened yogurt, and homemade unsweetened kefir can be helpful for restoring healthy bacteria (though bear in mind our stomach acid is designed to kill bacteria, including that found in probiotics). Even more importantly, a diet high in raw produce, more vegetables than fruits, is essential for restoring healthy intestinal flora. See the first source below for more on the proper diet. The way to detoxify from everything in this toxic world starts with a healthy diet that primarily consists of raw, fresh, organic produce.
Beneficial bacteria serve many crucial functions. So far, we have identified more than 1,000 different species of beneficial bacteria in our bodies. They help us digest our food and to create and synthesize vitamins. Beneficial microbes help to fight off invading pathogens, to synthesize neurotransmitters, and more. The healthier the food we eat, the healthier and more beneficial the bacteria inside of us.
Antibiotics and antimicrobials like triclosan are indiscriminate killers. They kill beneficial bacteria as well as harmful bacteria. Avoid exposure to these substances whenever possible. If you’ve recently taken prescription antibiotics, check out After Taking Antibiotics… for more information, with specific protocols and supplement recommendations. Also, be sure to see the One Gallon Challenge for an easy all around detox plan.
- After Taking Antibiotics This Is What You Need To Do To Restore Healthy Intestinal Flora
- Some Antibiotics May Blind, Cripple, or Kill You
- Kill Candida and Balance the Gut Quickly
- Antibiotic residue testing in meat results in few positive samples – Michigan State University
- Oregon Seeks to Become First State to Limit Antibiotic Use at Factory Farms – Common Dreams
- Information sheet: Pharmaceuticals in drinking-water – WHO
- Is Cancer Lurking in Your Toothpaste? (And Your Soap? And Your Lipstick?) – Newsweek
- Five Reasons Why You Should Probably Stop Using Antibacterial Soap – Smithsonian Magazine
- Triclosan – CDC