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What Is MRSA? Another Reason We Need Good Bacteria

What is MRSA? Another Reason We Need Good Bacteria

The Era of the Super Immune System

A few years back, Luke was working on the house when, after putting on a pair of heavy duty gloves, he detected what seemed to be a small burr in one of the fingers. When he shook his glove, a brown spider dropped to the ground and ran off.

MRSA after spider bite. MRSA is very common in Hawaii.

The next day, the top of his right hand was red, hot and swollen, suggesting a potential bacterial infection at the site of a spider bite. A few hours after that, the redness had already crept up his wrist, so I put Luke on a course of Augmentin. When the infection failed to respond, I suspected MRSA (methcillin resistant Staph aureus) and added Bactrim.

I’ll spare you the gory details of the healing wound. The point is, what might have been a disfiguring infection was soon stopped in its tracks: the drugs worked.


Jesse Watters
Life changing

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Jesse Watters
Fox News Primetime host
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Leontyne Tompkins
I feel free

For the last month, I have really been reading all labels on everything. I have completely remove those 8 oils you talk about. I must tell you, I feel great! I have more energy and I am now 197 lbs (have always been around 205 to 210lbs). I eat potatoes with real butter, grass fed steak, pasta with the right toppings. I eat everything! I seem to crave less sugar. I love it! 

Robert Kirkendall
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The biggest difference for me (and a surprising one) is that my allergies have almost completely disappeared! This is a big deal for me, because I’ve had allergies most of my life and they have often affected what I do which is a teaching music in [a public school district].  In general, I feel much better and have more consistent energy throughout the day.

Erica Turrell
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I’ve lost over 50 pounds

I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’m 56 years old. Cutting processed food and unhealthy fats from my diet was one of the first things I did on my health recovery journey...I went cold turkey off the bad oils. Emptied my pantry into the trash and just started eating real food

Mitzi Wilkinson Champion
Knowledge I didn’t know I needed

Your Fatburn Fix book is amazing, my friend. Thank you! I’m an Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I know my stuff. This is the extra layer of knowledge I didn’t know I needed. Well done!

Jennifer Dillman
Fatburn Fix reader
Lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork is great

I have lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork (after 3 months of eating your way) was even better! I was metabolically healthy (per your book) before I read your book, but barely. Lowering my weight, sealed the deal! I have been talking about you and your book to anyone who will listen...Thank you for all you’ve done and what you continue to do! You are changing lives for the better!

Missy Cramer
FatBurn Fix reader
Lost 20 lbs I could never shed

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  I work out in the am and believe I am burning fat for energy not from food!

Lauren Smith
I feel great

My waist is four inches smaller. I feel great and many of the minor aches and pains that I had (knees and lower back) are gone. Also, my muscle tone is amazing, even though I have not increased my workout routine.

Richard Janelle
Completed Dr Cate's online course
Kent Matthes
The go-to for strength and conditioning coaches

Whenever I advise my clients about eating to perform I go straight to what I have learned from Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition has become the go-to for strength and conditioning coaches across the country.

Kent Matthes
Major League Baseball Agent with WME Sports
Ken D Berry
Dismantles the lie

Dr. Cate dismantles the lie that seed oils are healthy, which may the biggest lie about nutrition and health because it’s so insidious.  

Ken D Berry, MD
Author of Lies My Doctor Told Me
Dr. Drew Pinsky
She knows the chemistry

Dr. Cate alerts us to the harms of seed oils and she’s convincing because she knows the chemistry better than anyone.

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Globally recognized internal medicine and addiction medicine specialist, media personality, LoveLine Host, and New York Times bestselling author
Kelly Starrett
No one is better at communicating nutritional truth

Dr. Cate has had the single greatest impact on how we talk to people about fueling for both performance or durability. While we all are a little unique, the foundational principles of human nutrition are immutable. If you are looking to create a more durable, resilient body, no one is better at communicating nutritional truth than Dr. Cate.

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Brian Lenkzes
Highly recommend The Fatburn Fix

Dr. Shanahan has had a significant impact on my practice of medicine. I am known as a Low Carb Doctor, but I never really appreciated the negative effects of processed seed oils on the health of my patients. I highly recommend The Fatburn Fix to my patients and have a loaner copy in my waiting room. It is amazing how quickly blood sugars and overall health improves with cutting seed oils. It is not just about the carbs!

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CEO of LowCarbMD San Diego, co-host of Low Carb MD Podcast and host of Life's Best Medicine Podcast
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Respected in the sports world

Dr. Cate reordered my diet when I was with the L.A. Lakers, and the benefits, for me personally, were felt immediately and have served me to this day. I’ve come to take real food so seriously I started a small family farm. I know of no M.D./nutritionist more respected in the sports world than Dr. Cate Shanahan.

Chris Kaman
NBA Player
Mark Sisson
Brought seed oil issue front and center

Cate brought the seed oil issue front and center. Healthy fats matter. So much so that I created an entire product line to swap out bad fats with good.

Mark Sisson
Founding Father of the Primal/Paleo Movement
Dallas Hartwig
Optimal health starts with food

If you want to understand how optimal health starts with food, start with Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition leaves you with an appreciation of the profound relationship between our genes and the planet, inspiring us to be good shepherds of both.

Dallas Hartwig
Attribution author of The Whole 30
Dwight Howard
Helped me with endurance

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Dwight Howard
NBA Player
Paul Grewal
Silver bullet for me

Dr Cate’s teachings helped me lose 60 pounds like it was nothing. It was like a silver bullet for me.

Paul Grewal, MD 
Dr Grewal Internal Medicine, MD, author of Genius Foods
Joesph Mercola
Radically improve your health…

Dr. Shanahan has provided a solid reference that deserves a place in the library of anyone who is seriously interested in nutrition. Her perspective on the vital role that healthy fat has in our diet is novel and, if implemented, can radically improve your health.

Dr. Joseph Mercola
Author of Fat for Fuel and Founder of Mercola.com
Dave Aspery
Pull up a chair…

I have based my work on the idea that getting the right kinds of healthy fats into your body and avoiding the worst fats is essential to optimal health. I've interviewed dozens of the world's top experts about this, and I know of no one who speaks more eloquently on this topic than Dr Cate. If she’s talking fats, pull up a chair. Take notes.

Dave Asprey
Author of the Bulletproof Diet
The key to unlocking my fatburn

I love your Fatburn Fix!  Has helped me so so much!  I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed.  I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils.  It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.  

Lauren Smith
Saved my life

I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. 

Leontyne Tompkins
> Tears of joy

 I'm crying tears of joy and appreciation for all you've done for me and my health! Without Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix, I would literally still be in the vicious cycle I'd been fighting all my life! In a nutshell - I am no longer a compulsive overeating addict suffering under the crushing 'thumb' of all food and alcohol.     

Penni Wicks

But what if they didn’t?

According to a recent article in Bloomberg Markets Magazine, instances of drug resistance are increasingly common around the globe, particularly in places like India where overcrowding, sewage and sanitation problems and unregulated access to low-cost generic antibiotics provide a perfect breeding ground for common bacteria to evolve into superbugs.

Germs have been strategizing against the effects of antimicrobial agents from a variety of sources (including other microbes) for billions of years. So as far as bacteria are concerned, manmade antibiotics represent just another challenge, the most recent of a long series of biological puzzles to solve. Superbugs like MRSA (Methcillin Resistant Staphyloccocus Aureus) demonstrate just how nimble germs can be, circumnavigating whatever chemical barriers we throw in their path.

With the advent of penicillin came hope that we might someday wipe out bacterial illness. That hubris was soon replaced with the hope that we might at least keep one step ahead of bacteria, developing new antibiotics faster than germs could adapt. Now, we’re doing all we can to avoid entering what the World Health Organization calls the “post-antibacterial era.”

Recently, researchers discovered a new breed of superbugs armed with a special gene called NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactimase-1) that can be easily transferred across many different types of bacteria, including the very common intestine-dwelling E-Coli.

Think of NDM-1 as a list of strategies for overcoming any antibiotic a germ might encounter, a kind of “Defeating Antibiotics for Dummies” distributed (not in book form, but on loops of DNA called plasmids) to germ populations all around the globe. And since, according to University of Indiana microbiologist Karen Bush, the giant pharmaceutical companies now pursue highly profitable hypertension and high-cholesterol drugs (which patients take for many years) rather than new antibiotics (which patients take for days or weeks), the publishers of the “For Dummies” book won’t need to bother coming out with updated editions for some time.

You might be thinking, Right, another story about the latest superbug, or bird or swine flu, or flesh-eating bacteria, or whatever else we’re supposed to be terrified of this news cycle. What can I do about it?

Well, I’ll tell you a few simple things you can do.

First, understand that although some 20% of antibiotics prescribed for adults in the US are for sinus infections, study after study has shown that antibiotics are no more effective than placebo for the treatment of these infections. The next time you have a sinus problem, listen to your doctor’s advice about what prescription, if any, might actually help.

Second, supercharge your immune system by eating probiotic foods and cutting sugar. The gut, if you’ll pardon the phrase, is the heart of the immune system, and probiotics balance the gut flora that help prevent bacteria from getting out of control. A high-sugar diet, on the other hand, stacks the cards against you as it creates a latticework of cross-links within the interstices between cells. These can create physical barriers that snag white blood cells as they chase down bacterial bad guys.

Finally, stop using antibacterial gels. Instead, wash your hands with regular, non-antibacterial soap and water. In Hawaii, I saw numerous patients with recurrent MRSA infections, and every one of them used antibacterial lotion regularly. These hand lotions don’t discriminate: they kill good, protective bacteria along with the bad. And since no lotion wipes out 100% of bacteria, some will survive to communicate their adaptation strategies to other bacteria, strategies that will find their way into the next edition of “Defeating Antibiotics for Dummies.”

And that’s not very super, now is it?

Read more in Deep Nutrition, in the section entitled Fermentation, Part II: Boost Your Immune System With Probiotics, pp147-8 and Food Rules, under Doctor’s Order #14: Avoid Antibacterial Soaps

Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Hi Dr. Cate,

    I have been a believer of priobiotics (had helped me with my gut issues, and I noticed I have not had any colds for more than a year now since switching to a LCHF diet, with regular consumption of probiotics in the form of homemade sauerkraut and fermented dairy (we also consume raw milk and raw heavy cream). Of course, your books have reinforced my faith in probiotics.

    Recently, I got into soapmaking to make use of my excess homemade buttermilk (by-product of homemade raw butter from grass-fed cows) and whole milk yogurt. I thought with your background in biochemistry that you probably will have answers to my questions or at least provide qualified opinions on the use of fermented dairy on soap making.
    Q: Is there a chance of preserving the probiotic properties of fermented milk if used in soap making even after reacting with the NaOH? What if I add some extra after the initial saponification process reaches the emulsified stage? Will the probiotics still exert an antigenic property even after having been neutralized by lye by virtue of their protein structure and trigger an immune response from the user, in hopes of providing immunostimulation to the non-immunocompromised user? Will the glycerin by-product somehow coat some of the probiotics or antigenic proteins that were added after the soap batter/mixture emulsifies to give some sort of protection to keep them intact, albeit inactive. This glycerin tends to form a thin film of protection on the skin, so if the glycerin also has them probiotics or proteins intact, then they can act as a sort of vehicle for delivering these probiotics (or at least, part of the antigen protein) to the skin. This is my theory, and I would like to know if there is logic to it.

    I do work as an RN and have had issues with antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, and actually had Cetaphil prescribed for me so I can officially use it in the hospital instead of their soaps. I am planning to use my homemade probiotic soaps if hospital will allow me (maybe after challenging the blue light test they administer).

    1. Soaps retain no pro-biotics. Good soaps promote the growth of healthy skin flora, which may help. The Maasai use fermented milk mixed w/ ochre clay on their skin to apply probiotics…the cost is a very strong odor.

    1. Fastinating study, thank you. New research suggests we may need as many as 5000 species of bacteria, including H. Pylori possibly! (P Pylori is currently thought to cause peptic ulcers. But it may be that we need small amounts and in locations other than the stomach.)

  2. I’ve avoided the over-prescription of ABs, with a nasty tooth abscess the only exception over the past decade that I can recall. I try to eat yogurt, kefir, kim chi, cultured cheeses, etc., to keep gut flora healthy. And while I prefer soap without AB, my wife buys it and my workplace’s soap dispensers all contain it.

    Questions: Does the use of AB hand soap affect gut flora, or only symbiotic bacteria on the skin’s surface? Does bacteria on the skin provide any protection against infection the way gut flora protects us internally? How deleterious is usage of hand soap with AB aside from promoting resistant strains – if my gut flora is otherwise healthy, do I really need to worry?

    1. Good questions. In Food Rules page 146 we explain that, regular use of skin products that kill skin flora not only breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria, it also risks breeding bacteria with collagenase enzymes that can dissolve your collagen to form abscesses and even limb-threatening infections.

      Antibiotic hand soap is unlikely to significantly affect gut flora.

  3. In my case, i started getting UTIs after moving to Mexico, and they became more and more frequent. My digestive system is weak – beans and nightshades are irritating and i’ve cut them from my diet. So i really didn’t like being on courses of gut-bacteria-killing antibiotics 2x a year – then 3x, then 4x. Then i started making kefir water and homemade sauerkraut and yoghurt. I’ve been infection free for 7 months, despite 2 trips to the sea, which before was always a UTI trigger.

  4. I’ve worked in healthcare for twelve years now, and the hospitals really push hand sanitizer. I refused to use it (I just wash my hands) but I always read the ingredients when they switch products. Triclosan, phthalates, and most recently propane & butane. Really? And people use this stuff in their kids?

  5. Thank you Dr. Cate. My brother in law died last Friday from a bacterial infection that had got in his lungs. He was 48 years old. I am going to start spreading the word to everyone I can. I will start by sharing this post.

  6. A family member of mine died a few weeks ago after contracting a bacterial infection on a business trip to India. I suspect this may be a case of NDM-1, but her case remains a medical mystery. It underscores the importance of being vigilant about our immune systems by consuming less sugar and processed carbs and eating things like unpasteurized sauerkraut, fermented dairy, etc. on a daily basis. We also need to halt indiscriminate antibiotic use in livestock and return to grass-based farming.

  7. I’ve devoured your books and am am implementing as many suggestions as possible. I understand the science and benefits of fermentation but am very susceptible to migraines. My top dietary trigger is fermented foods, the 2 worst were miso and tempeh. I can tolerate soy sauce in small amounts.

    Love yogurt, but am allergic to the proteins in milk. I’d been making soy yogurt with organic, unsweetened, Silk soymilk (not good?).

    What dietary options are there to get probiotics into my diet?

    1. Based on what you wrote here, there’s a very good chance you do not have an actual allergy to fermented foods. I find many people have been misdiagnosed with allergic disorders even when based on blood tests. this is something I work with people to clarify, if you need. Meanwhile, probiotic supplements are an easy way to get at least some types of good bacteria into your system.

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