In "Survival of the Sickest" Dr. Sharon Moalem exposes that some diseases are actually very sophisticated, adapted responses to former environmental threats to human health. He focuses especially and continuously returns to his very personal discussion of hemochromatosis--a disorder which traps and locks excess iron in the body (albeit unevenly). I had always been under the assumption that iron is almost always a good thing for the body and as a vegetarian, I find myself on a perpetual quest to add more of it to my diet. Moalem, however, proved me very, very wrong as he discussed how those with hemochromatosis (which neglects to spread iron to certain microphages in the body) and anemia are actually far less susceptible to certain diseases and bacteria which feed on iron as fuel. Iron is constantly added as a supplement in many of the pulses, grains, cereals, and multiple other foods we eat and also an additive in baby formula.
So, why talk about antibiotics when Moalem discusses iron?
The issue is that both iron and antibiotics are added in excess to what we eat daily. As we consume more and more antibiotic-laden meats (and milk), our bodies become resistant to the antibiotics that are helpful (in moderation) to cure us when we fall ill. Strains of antibiotic-resistant, dangerous bacteria such as MRSA is becoming far more commonly diagnosed in the US and this seems to be no coincidence. What about iron? Am I suggesting you turn down that plate of spinach for a slice of pie? No. But as Moalem puts it, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. It seems to me we are adding too much of a good thing to our bodies and, in the process, making everyone more susceptible to the bad stuff.