As much as I promote and eat a plant based diet, I do occasionally eat chicken, beef, or seafood. Some wouldn’t touch animal products with a ten foot pole. Others are content eating the standard American diet – the “meat and potatoes” crowd. Each to his own.
I’m posting this blog for people who suffer from repeated urinary tract infections. Unfortunately, researchers have found a link between eating chicken and frequent UTIs. What’s the link and, more importantly, is there anything we can do about it?
The villain is E coli, a common gut bacteria that travels to the rectum. In a healthy, well cared for, animal, other bacteria keep it in check. But if it gets out of hand, it will skyrocket in number and infect the rest of the chicken. More so when the chicken is stressed. (I don’t know about you, but being jammed with others in a cage, with no room to walk or sit, would certainly stress me out!)
“Colibacillosis infections can become a problem due to poor husbandry. If birds are not allowed regular access to clean fresh feed and water, and if litter is allowed to remain wet due to poor ventilation, the bacteria will spread rapidly throughout a house via fecal contamination and respiratory mucous.”
The Antibiotic “Solution”
If injecting chickens with antibiotics to prevent infection ever solved the problem, it no longer does. The bacteria are now so resistant to antibiotics that we face a potential future where antibiotic treatments for human infections will no longer work. We may die from infections that killed our great-great-great grandparents.
Even “organic” chickens suffer from the loop-hole regulation that allows them to be inoculated with an antibiotic on the first day of life, but not after. As a result, where 1 in 2 non-organic chickens carry these bacteria, one in three organic chickens are contaminated as well. It was noted whole food chickens do better.
What about Kosher Chickens?
You would think the humane quick slaughter, using a sharp knife and fast, skilled eviscerating to reduce pain, plus the bokek who inspects the chickens for imperfections, would guarantee a healthier product. Unfortunately, research shows kosher chickens do worse than “regular” ones. According to the article below, this may be due to cross contamination in the slaughter plant. E. coli is opportunistic and highly resistant to elimination.
What about using other disinfectants other than antibiotics? Well, that’s been tried.
And one of the big problems with this is that “disinfectants used to kill bacteria are, in many cases, not able to eliminate bacteriophages. Some of these viruses are even resistant to bleach at the kinds of concentrations used in the food industry; likewise, alcohol, which is found in many hand sanitizers, is also unable to harm most of them. The only thing that seems to dissuade the industry is any practice that affects the taste of the meat.”
Here’s my friend Dr. Greger’s video on the topic.
There doesn’t seem to be one, other than to create the healthiest environment possible to raise chickens — plenty of room, outdoor space, ability to roam freely, and healthy feed.
Buy from farmers who specialize in this method or from a whole food markets (which probably buy from such farmers).
To be honest, I’ve eaten my share of chicken over the years, and UTIs have never posed a problem for me. But if they did, maybe I would consider avoiding regular supermarket, commercially grown, “organic,” or kosher chicken and see how I do. Failing that, perhaps I would need to scratch the chicken off my menu.