CAFOs (confined-animal feeding operations) are the New World’s answer to conventional farming practices. Within CAFO space, animals are routinely administered antibiotics as a prophylactic treatment against disease. As well, antibiotics are administered as a means of finishing the produce — inducing rapid weight gain — in the weeks preceding taking the livestock to market.
The rampant use of antibiotics in our food supply is coming back to bite us.
Drug-resistant typhoid, tuberculosis and gonorrhoea are already killing hundreds of thousands yearly around the world. Recently, researchers discovered a new gene, mcr-1, in China that populated both pigs and people. mcr-1 represents a gene mutation that makes bacteria resistant to our best-of-class antibiotics. Worst of all, the crossover from one bacteria strain to another is extremely high. This means that resistance is likely to increase at a rapid rate.
Wait. It gets worse.
The mcr-1 gene has been found not only in bacteria, but also in meats (pork and chicken) purchased at various open markets in China. More concerning, there has been human transference of the mcr-1 gene in 16 human patients (of 1,322 tested) thus far. That represents a disturbing 1% of the population tested. The extrapolation here is that it is likely that we will experience the literal end of the antibiotic era and the end of medicine as we know it. While mcr-1 is currently restricted to China, history has shown a propensity towards finding means of expansion. It is unlikely that mcr-1 will remain a Chinese problem.
What Can We Do About It?
This isn’t a Bad News Blog. While the prognosis is unwelcome with regard to antibiotics use in conventional livestock farm operations and its impact on a global, human population, I’m firmly of the belief that much of the risk can be mitigated by intelligent lifestyle, diet and other health-oriented choices. It’s a grave situation, but it’s not out of control with regard to what the average person can do. That’s the good news. The seriousness of the situation cannot be ignored, however; failure to act responsibly now could pave the way to disastrous consequences later.
Steps You Can Take NOW
- Purchase meat and dairy products that are not raised in CAFO conditions. Buying meat from natural and/or organically-raised, free-range animals that have not been exposed to unnecessary antibiotics will go a LONG way to ensuring your health and well-being.
- Work towards strengthening your immune system. Our immune systems need to be exercised regularly to be trained to recognize risks in an appropriate fashion. If you’re using anti-bacterial soaps, etc. in an effort to avoid all germs, you really need to understand the harm you’re doing to your immune system’s ability to protect you from harm. Play in the dirt, forego washing your hands at the slightest hint of dirt on your skin, walk barefoot on the Earth and don’t be too picky about cleaning the dirt from organic produce you purchase to eat. MOST of the bacteria we encounter are either harmless or beneficial; DON’T allow your paranoia push you into fearful overreactions.
- Bolster your immune system through eating organic/natural, whole foods. Forego buying processed foods most of the time and cook for yourself. Understand that a certain amount of raw vegetables are necessary for proper functioning of the digestive tract. While cooking makes calories more bio-available to us, the typical New World diet is not suffering from a lack of calories! Instead, we need to ensure that the calories we intake are of sufficient quality and type to sustain our health in optimal fashion.
- Get off the couch and EXERCISE. I cannot emphasize this one enough. If your idea of a workout is to walk from the living room to the kitchen to get a beer before watching American Idol, you’re not doing yourself any favours whatsoever. The old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it” is utterly true. Our bodies have evolved to require the STRESS of physical exertion to thrive. If you don’t push yourself, you’ll wither and atrophy. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the gym every week. It does, however, mean that you need to be moving more often than not. You need to work your muscles and body. Doing so kickstarts all sorts of housekeeping routines that benefit you.
- REDUCE STRESS! Meditation, walking, exercise and other approaches to stress management are essential to ensuring that you are in control of your health instead of experiencing the roller-coaster of being on the receiving end. We live in a world of overwhelm. Attending to our spiritual well-being is just as essential as attending to our physical well-being. Remember: There is no separation between spiritual and physical. We are spiritual beings experiencing a physical existence. REAL well-being addresses both spiritual/emotional and physical.
Finally — to borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams — DON’T PANIC! Life has always thrown up its fair share of challenges over our time on this planet. While the antibiotic-resistance issue is 100% of human making, it does not necessarily spell the beginning of the end (despite what some might say). If you have a firm understanding of all that needs to be done to ensure your ultimate health and well-being, don’t hesitate in getting started to ensure that you live long and well despite any possible challenges.
If you’re scared and unsure of how to proceed from here, contact me for a free consultation in which we’ll discuss your current state and determine your best course of action for ensuring your optimal health and well-being. Again, DON’T PANIC! Even if you don’t know what to do, that’s only temporary. There’s a lot you can do to mitigate the very real risks that have been discussed in this article. If you have any concerns whatsoever, get in touch!