By Zach Columbia BS NASM. FPT
The relationship that coaches develop with clients naturally extends far beyond the realms of exercise alone. Most fitness professionals will find their clients looking to them for advice on nutrition, supplementation, injuries, acute medical issues, etc. Pretty much everything health related from fitness, right down to the personal hygiene products they use. Sure, the underlying goal is usually accomplishing an improved level of fitness coupled with aesthetic benefits, but both are directly impacted by factors other than just a workout routine. As a fitness professional, I have always felt a deep responsibility to those placing their trust in me as a “Health Expert.” Because my profession extends so far beyond exercise alone, I have always carried the belief that I should never sacrifice the long-term health of those placing their trust in me for a short-term result.
More often than not, people coming to me for help share the main focus of losing weight and as human nature would have it, they want to lose the weight as soon as yesterday. Do I have the knowledge to put them on the fast track to weight loss? Of course! Do I? No? Why? Because while losing weight as fast as most would like is possible, it can carry real long-term negative side effects. In other words, it’s not that their main focus isn’t important, but sacrificing their health to get there should never be a viable option.
Now that was a long introduction for the purpose of this article, but I hope you got the point.
That brings us to our main topic:
We humans are mostly microbes, over 100 trillion of them. The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body. The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome. The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K. (Hair, Sharpe. 2020)
The microbiome is essential for human development, immunity and nutrition. The microbes living in us and on our skin could possibly infect others, but are not harmful to the individual that carries them. In fact, they protect us and help us live in harmony with our environment. When an imbalance occurs in our microbiome, for instance, having too much or too little of a specific microbe, illness can occur or leave us susceptible to disease.
Given the events of the recent past, I’ve observed a dramatic increase in use of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and antimicrobial solutions. As individuals, businesses, schools, and public institutions started using these products excessively, I started to develop major concerns for our community’s long-term health. Obviously, I understood that the intention was good, but the tactics being employed could have some very negative long-term side effects.
How, you may be wondering?
Most of the products being used to stop the spread of harmful pathogens disrupt the microbiome. According to Dr Marie Drago, pharmacist, member of the French Society of Cosmetics, when asked about the effects of sanitizer stated “there is no way of destroying the virus without damaging the rest of the skin microbiome.”(Winter, 2020)
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that our fixation with killing bacteria had resulted in worldwide antibiotic resistance, namely due to an over-prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics, but also due to our obsession with harsh hand sanitizers and germaphobic lifestyles. (Winter, 2020)
Furthermore, Dr. James Lyons Weiler, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Pittsburgh and Scientific Director of the Bioinformatics Analysis Core, expressed in a speech he gave at the PA Medical Freedom Press Conference, that the antiviral disinfectants being used in public schools will result in damage of our children’s reproductive health that will carry negative side-effects for at least two generations. (Dr. Weiler, 2020)
Dr Weiler is not alone in his beliefs. A Study done by The Edward College of Osteopathic Medicine found that Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and didecyldimethyl ammonium chloride, (wow that’s a mouth full) two compounds found in most household cleaners, personal care products and cosmetics, and just about every antiviral solution used in schools, stores, and most likely your very own home, decrease reproductive hormones. These compounds also inhibit mitochondrial function, cholesterol synthesis, and block estrogen receptors. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are regulated by estrogen. By blocking estrogen receptors, FSH & LH are diminished, resulting in infertility. Endocrine disruptors are also known to disrupt growth hormone and thyroid hormones. (Hrubec, 2014)
With all that being said, it is blatantly obvious that we are putting our long-term health at risk for a short-term solution. Not only that, but the products we are using to “protect” ourselves are actually making us more susceptible to illness and infection by disrupting our built-in systems of protection.
Perhaps it is my experience in helping people along their journey to better health that has helped me see the forest through the trees, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of simple research for anyone to recognize the flaws in our current approach.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take steps to protect ourselves from harmful bacteria and virus! In fact, that’s exactly what I’m saying! We need to take steps to protect ourselves, but we need to do it by strengthening our immune systems and using products that are both safe for our bodies and the environment.
Just like someone trying to lose weight, if we take the wrong approach, the individual will lose weight temporarily. However, it’s likely they’ll eventually experience hormonal issues, digestive issues, neurotransmitter deficiencies, and of course will end up with the same problem they were trying to overcome in the first place; they’ll gain all the weight back and then some. For those who take the right approach, the weight may take a little longer to come off, but the individual’s health will flourish throughout the process.
Thus far, our approach to avoid exposure to germs could be likened to the individual on the entirely wrong path to weight loss. What then is the right approach (and there is a right approach)? That’s the topic for an entirely separate article; however, the foundational principle is always the same, the right approach never compromises your health.