As a child, I grew up blissfully ignorant of the microscopic world within my body. Bacteria were “bad germs” that caused disease and should be removed from hands, toys and surfaces as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Like many kids I regularly got what my mom termed “ear, nose and throat infections”. Naturally the prescribed remedy was always an antibiotic. It was the 1960’s and 70’s and antibiotics were in their heyday. They were the life saving, ultimate germ killing medicine. As long as you didn’t have an allergy to penicillin , antibiotics were passed out freely and not thought to have any side effects.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s we started hearing about the rise in peanut and other food allergies. Asthma was on the increase as well as autism. The incidence of obesity, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes in children as well as adults rose. Every year since then, these chronic disease rates and others have continued to skyrocket.
In the medical community, we started asking questions, trying to find out why these conditions were suddenly reaching epidemic levels. There were many possible theories. Too much fast food? Maybe. Not enough exercise? Maybe. No pets owned as a child? Maybe. A disturbance of the intestinal bacteria? But wait… aren’t all bacteria bad for you? Shouldn’t they all be wiped out with antibiotics? Or do our billions of bowel bacteria have critical roles to play in the maintenance of our good health?
In this book, Martin J. Blaser, MD, does a terrific job of telling the story of the rise and fall of antibiotics and how they have affected the critical world of bacteria within us. Before reading this book, I had always assumed antibiotics were given to animals raised for food to treat or prevent infection. Not always so! Instead they are mostly used to fatten up the animals for market. We then eat the animals and introduce the antibiotic residues into our bodies which go on to cause antibiotic resistance in our own bacteria.
Compared to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, for the it’s prophetic warnings of what unbridled use of antibiotics has done for us in terms of both healing infections and causing many of our chronic illnesses, this book is well-researched and eminently readable for the layperson. Dr. Blasser often draws on research that he has done in his own lab, and writes with a passion that draws the reader into the world of microbiology. Perhaps most useful to our health is the “solutions” chapter that Dr. Blasser provides with suggestions on how to reduce our dependence on antibiotics and possible ways to mitigate the damage that has already occurred. This book is especially important for anyone with children or intending on having children for his advice on preserving and maintaining their micro biome.
This book is available through my Amazon.ca affiliate link here: