HealItAll Holistic Health and Wellness

December 5, 2009

E. Coli, Kidney Damage, and Agribusiness

A couple of weeks ago I came down with what I thought was a 24 hour flu bug. I was very surprised, since I hadn’t had a cold or flu for many years, and I had been supporting my immune system with extra vitamin D3, daily walks in the sunshine, and excellent diet. I KNEW I wasn’t going to get the flu.

Furthermore, nobody I knew had similar symptoms. I’d been around a couple of people with swine flu or bad colds with sore throats, but not a one-day bout of vomiting and diarrhea. That was my first clue that my symptoms might have been from food poisoning.

The next clue was pain in my right kidney. For a few days I thought it was just a back ache from pulling a muscle, but the pain didn’t subside over time like a pulled muscle usually would. It actually got worse. Coincidentally, my Mom, 150 miles away, ended up in the hospital just before I got sick and they found E. coli in her kidneys. Hmmm… that was strange. The doctors gave her antibiotics (which can cause even more problems, I learned after the fact).

Next, I just happened to watch the film “Food, Inc.” and learned all about the way super-bug strains of E. coli are being created in cattle by industrial feedlot practices. This type of E. coli is finding its way into our water and vegetable farms. One child in the film had severe, life-long kidney damage from eating spinach contaminated with E. coli. Hmmm… hadn’t I been drinking a green smoothie every morning, made with raw leafy greens, sometimes including spinach?

The puzzle pieces were starting to fit together in my mind. I looked up E. coli symptoms. First symptom: vomiting and diarrhea. Hmm… I found out that E. coli can kill red blood cells that then clog up the kidneys. Was that why my kidney was hurting? I have never even felt my kidneys in my entire life, and now on the heels of other E. coli symptoms, my right kidney was painful. Red flags started going up in my mind.

According to one article, antibiotics used in this situation could have dangerous repercussions, so I didn’t want to go that route. I found out that Acidophillus, Vitamin C, and D Mannose were effective natural remedies against E. coli. I started taking all of them, starting with Acidophillus and Vitamin C. I felt a little better, but it wasn’t until I went to Whole Foods and picked up a jar of D Mannose that I really noticed a difference in my kidney pain.

The first day I took three scoops, as directed on the label. By the next morning the pain had diminished by about half. I took four doses that day and the pain was almost gone. By the third day I felt as good as new.

Now I’m wondering:

1. What would have happened if I hadn’t “coincidentally” learned about the E. coli-kidney connection?

2. How many other people are out there in danger of permanent kidney damage, because they think they just caught a flu bug?

3. What would have happened if I hadn’t done my own research and learned about D Mannose?

4. Why is our FDA and USDA allowing the beef industry to contaminate our vegetables with this life-threatening strain of E. coli?

5. And damn it, why do meat eaters have to mess things up for everyone else?

Now I have to painstakingly tripple-wash all my leafy greens, just to make them safe to eat. That is just not fair. And I have to keep D Mannose on hand at all times, in case I somehow ingest more of the E. coli critters, because I’m not going to stop drinking green smoothies. They are the best way to include nutritious leafy greens in my diet.

I was lucky. I didn’t end up in the hospital like my Mom. I didn’t have permanent kidney damage like the little girl in “Food, Inc.” I was able to do the detective work myself, because I’m a health-care professional with a strong interest in nutrition, but what about everyone else out there?

I believe that my strong intention to be healthy was influential in my ability to find and recognize the clues to relieving my problem. If I had been totally aligned with joy and appreciation, I probably wouldn’t have been sick at all, but I’m not quite there yet. Even so, I do make an effort to find things to appreciate and I try to stay in the attitude of gratitude, so my life flows pretty smoothly. Aside from a day of nasty symptoms and a minor backache for a few days, my food-poisoning episode turned out to be pretty benign. That’s something else I can appreciate.

If you are reading this, the moral of the story is:

  • Wash your leafy greens really well… and other fruits and veggies too!
  • Boycott corn-fed beef (better yet, all meat)
  • Keep D Mannose, Acidophillus, and Vitamin C on hand – I suspect it will become increasingly important with our modern agribusiness practices
  • And cultivate appreciation, gratitude, joy… and awareness of your body and the environment in which you live

Some natural food stores don’t carry D Mannose, so I’ve added it to my Amazon store for your convenience – http://astore.amazon.com/heaitallcom-20/detail/B000JN4CR0

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