Author: Alanna Collen
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: This book was fascinating and informative, so full of fun facts that I wanted to take notes on nearly every sentence.
The title of this book, 10% Human, refers to the fact that for every cell in your body, there are nine microbes living in your gut. Your health can be influenced by these microbes in surprising ways. From your weight to your immune system, to your mental health and choice of partner, your microbes can affect every aspect of your life. By influencing your gut microbiome (the microbes living in your gut), antibiotics may play a surprising role in your health. Here are some interesting things this book taught me about antibiotics:
1. Antibiotics are amazing. The creation of antibiotics is one of the majors reasons that average life expectancy has more than doubled, from 31 years in 1900 to 66 years in 2005. In particular, childhood mortality is lower now than at any time in history.
2. Antibiotics can’t cure most respiratory infections (sore throats, bronchitis, etc). Antibiotics are amazing, but they still only kill bacteria. Since only about 1 in 20 respiratory infections is caused by bacteria, a lot of antibiotics prescribed for these illnesses aren’t doing any good.
3. Antibiotics are known to contribute to weight gain. Mice given antibiotics have different gut microbes and gain weight more quickly than mice not given antibiotics. The same was true of a group of US navy recruits given antibiotics. Livestock are regularly given antibiotics to encourage weight gain. It is likely that antibiotics contribute to weight gain in humans.
4. Antibiotics influence human gut microbes and may therefore contribute to many different health problems. The author shows small studies or tidbits of evidence that suggest the gut microbiome and treatment with antibiotics might play a role in everything from IBS to autism. Most of these studies were done with very few individuals and none showed definitively that antibiotics were the cause of these health problems. They were suggestive of a link though, enough so that I personally would be sure not to take antibiotics unless I need them.
5. We should all be informed consumers of antibiotics. Having read this book, I’m not against antibiotics! Neither are the scientists doing this research. However, they are advocating the elimination of unnecessary use of antibiotics. This means that as smart consumers, we should not push doctors to prescribe antibiotics just to be doing something. And if a doctor does prescribe antibiotics, we should ask if our illness is more likely to be caused by bacteria or something else. We should also carefully consider how bad the consequences of not taking antibiotics might be – mild discomfort or serious health issues – and make informed decisions about their use.
Although these are a few of the major points in this book, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. This book was so full of facts, I wanted to copy down nearly every sentence. It was a slow read because it was so information dense, but it was still good enough that I’m seriously considering a re-read to make sure I remember everything I learned. I was very impressed by the author’s ability to clearly explain science concepts without losing important nuances. Given that antibiotic use seems to affect children the most, I’d highly recommend this book to parents or those of you who are expecting, but the information here could be valuable to anyone.