Roy Walkenhorst: Hi, and welcome back to Healing Quest, I'm Roy Walkenhorst.
Judy Brooks: And I'm Judy Brooks, and if you're just joining us, our focus here is holistic wellness and that means the latest in natural ways to help us all live healthier, happier, and longer. In recent years, a new challenge has developed to that living longer goal we just talked about. The problem is what's called antimicrobial resistance. Now, what we're talking about is the growing problem of bacteria that are now resistant to the drugs that used to deal with all of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 23,000 American die every year because of this and the director of the CDC says antimicrobial resistance is quote, "One of our most serious health threats."
Roy Walkenhorst: So 23,000 Americans die every year right now, and it's unfortunately only getting worse so to help us understand what we might individually be able to do to protect ourselves from this growing danger, we've invited microbiologist Kiran Krishnan to join us on today's show. Kiran is an expert on the immune system, and he's the developer of the Just Thrive Probiotic, which clinical trials are showing is very effective in supporting our immune system, so Kiran, thanks for joining us today.
Kiran Krishnan: Thank you for having me.
Roy Walkenhorst: So Kiran, as a microbiologist, what's your view of the threat posed by this antimicrobial resistance thing we've been talking about?
Kiran Krishnan: To me, it's one of the most serious threats we face as a population to our health and wellness. If you look at the history of medicine, one of the most profound discoveries in the history of medicine, the increased longevity, improved quality of life, was the discovery of penicillin. And the discovery of penicillin by a microbiologist gave us the ability to fight off common illnesses that would have typically killed people, but be able to get rid of those conditions and infections within a matter of days, instead of succumbing to them in a matter of months.
Kiran Krishnan: And we are moving towards this time where we're going to be living in what we call a post-antibiotic world. Our ability to handle disease and our longevity was dramatically affected when we went from a pre-antibiotic world to antibiotic world. Now, we're moving into this world where we're going to a post-antibiotic world where none of the common antibiotics are effective against common infections.
Roy Walkenhorst: Wow.
Kiran Krishnan: Yeah, and we're not talking about really exotic things like Ebola. We're talking about common infections like staph infections that you pick up at the gym, or at school, or workplace-
Judy Brooks: Or the hospital.
Kiran Krishnan: Or the hospital, of course, yeah. Any common infection that is now antibiotic resistant can take lives, and in a horrific way. These are not the types of illness that people want to get because you really suffer through these.
Judy Brooks: Is a lot of this because of all the antibiotics that they're giving to the cattle, and they're giving to animals?
Kiran Krishnan: Yeah, that's a factor. There's a couple different factors, in fact I would say three factors that are major drivers of the issue. Number one, is the overuse of antibiotics for non-bacterial infections. Even the CDC estimates that about 50% of the antibiotic prescriptions written for humans are for illnesses that antibiotics cannot help. They're typically viral infections for example, and this is done a lot more in kids than in adults.
Kiran Krishnan: Imagine you're a parent, and you're bringing your screaming, suffering child into the pediatrics office, and the child has a really bad cold or a viral infection. But the parent really needs and wants something in terms of medication to be able to leave the doctor's office with because then they'll feel like they're getting the improvement in their child's health. When in reality, an antibiotic prescription is not really going to do anything, but the pediatricians actually feel pressured to write a script in order to satisfy the parent, so that's one issue is the over use for non-bacterial infections.
Kiran Krishnan: The second issue is people not finishing their course of antibiotics. You're given a 10 day course, after three days you feel better and so you forget about it, giving the bacteria within your system just a small dose of antibiotics allows them to develop resistance to it, rather than finishing the course. Now the third one is what you guys mentioned, is the dramatic overuse of it in food, especially in the meat industry. Some of the estimates say that we use over 90 different antibiotics in the meat industry. None of it have really been tested for their long-term effects and so on. So there is a significant overuse in the meat industry, which is a breeding ground for antibiotic resistance.
Roy Walkenhorst: I can't resist saying right now that our mutual friends at the Weston A. Price Foundation that would say this is another example of why you ought to have grass-fed, pasture raised, whenever possible.
Roy Walkenhorst: So Kiran, what can I do like right now to try to deal with this?
Kiran Krishnan: Yeah, one of the big things that you guys mentioned is the use and selection of antibiotic-free meat products. More and more companies are offering that now, and when it comes to poultry, and swine, and beef as well, I think as the consumer's make those choices, it puts pressure on producers to stop using antibiotics. That'll be a significant help. The other thing is to be very careful when you're ill, and really talk to your doctor about whether or not the illness has anything to do with the bacteria, or is it likely a virus?
Kiran Krishnan: In kids, for example, one of the most common uses of antibiotics is for ear infections, and yet some of the estimates are that more than 60, 70% of ear infections are actually viral ... antibacterial or antibiotic won't even help. And so, it becomes really important to be very careful as to the selection and use of antibiotics for the right type of illness. Last thing is to really maintain your immune system, and your health, and using good bacteria that can control the bad bacteria.
Judy Brooks: Well, I have a question about that. I know obviously, I've always heard that when you finish taking your antibiotic, then that's when you start to take your probiotic, but other doctors I've heard say, "Not true, as long as you separate them by two or three hours, you should be taking the probiotic at the same time." What would you say to that?
Kiran Krishnan: So the vast majority of probiotics on the market will be killed off by the antibiotics, or antimicrobials that one is taking. So the vast majority of probiotics aren't really going to help, even during the course of antibiotic treatment, even if you separate it by two or three hours. And that's why the spores are so important. So the spores are stable in the presences of antibiotics. We actually did a 60 patient clinical trial on liver failure patients who take an antibiotic called rifaximin every day of their lives forever. And this antibiotic costs them around $2,500 a month to take, and it's one of the most powerful antibiotics in terms of killing off bacteria in the gut because it was initially developed as a antibiotic for traveler's diarrhea.
Kiran Krishnan: Now, that is the most stressful situation to put a probiotic through, and our spore-based probiotics that we use in products like Thrive were able to be stable taken exactly the same time with the antibiotic. So it's about the right choice. It's about the right probiotic. If you use the spore-based probiotic, it works perfectly well in the presence of antibiotics. The vast majority of other probiotics will not, the only other one that can help is Saccharomyces boulardii.
Judy Brooks: Oh, okay. Well, thanks Kiran, this is a lot to digest, so to speak.
Roy Walkenhorst: Thank you for developing the Just Thrive Probiotic because Judy and I take it every day and we really think it's an important part of keeping us healthy. So for all that you did to develop that, I just want you to know there's a couple of customers out there that appreciate it.
Kiran Krishnan: Well, thank you so much and one last message is, the vast majority of bacteria we will come in contact with, and of course that live in our system are good for you. So over 99% of the bacteria are either benign or beneficial, less than 1% bacteria you ever come in contact with are actually bad for you. So the best way of controlling those harmful bacteria is by boosting the good guys. They do a better job than any other chemical we can put into our system, so focusing on increasing our good guys is a huge benefit to us down the road.
Judy Brooks: Well, that's a great last thought to leave with our listeners. Thank you so much, Kiran. It's always nice to talk to you, and we really appreciate you enlightening us to the growing danger of antibiotics that don't work as well as they used to because of bacteria that are now increasingly resistant to all those antibiotics.
Roy Walkenhorst: As we mentioned, probiotics are a regular part of our routine. But I have to say, so this whole kind of thing oof probiotics was of the first big ah-has I had, when we really started looking into natural ways to keep us healthy. And I remember, I actually at one point went to Japan to do a story on Iichiroh Ohhira who was one of the amazing developers of probiotics, but in the course of doing that and talking to all kinds of experts, I came to the conclusion that the probiotic might be the single most important pill we take every day.
Judy Brooks: Well, that's what we've heard from doctors.
Roy Walkenhorst: What I heard many of them say, all those vitamins, all that other good stuff that you take is all really good, but if you only had to pick one because the probiotic keeps our digestive system healthy, and our immune system healthy, and that's the most important thing we can do for ourselves.
Judy Brooks: That's right.
Roy Walkenhorst: So all of you out there, have you had your probiotic? That's the message from Roy and Judy.