What’s Poisoning You?

The following post is a bit of a rant. It’s inflammatory and is likely to annoy or offend many of you. I apologize for the offense in advance.

Though, as you will see in the following post, I get annoyed when people look exclusively at diet when looking for causes of mysterious diseases, I don’t think that nutrition is unimportant. It is very important. Food is fuel for our bodies, and putting lousy fuel into our engines will lead us to feeling sick and looking sickly.

But fluoroquinolones, and other damaging pharmaceuticals, are like putting sand in the engine. They thoroughly mess up one’s body and mind – suddenly, severely and systemically. Yet the severe cellular damage done by fluoroquinolones is ignored by many physicians providing explanations to their patients as to why their body is going hay-wire. It annoys me to the point that I rant about it on the internet.

Blaming the Standard American Diet (SAD – very sad) for multi-symptom, chronic, mysterious diseases is far better than the alternative of telling people that their disease is all in their head. However, it’s not the full picture and it has problems as well (that I rant about below).

(Relevance of this below) – I totally think that Glenn Beck is floxed. Just sayin’.

What’s Poisoning You?

The American diet is difficult to defend. The typical American meal contains high-fructose corn syrup from genetically modified corn, sugar in amounts that are multiple times higher than those found in any fruit in nature, partially hydrogenated fats, MSG, preservative chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, etc. Additionally, the typical American meal is devoid of vegetables, sprouted grains, fermented foods, fiber, minerals, vitamins, nutrients, etc. This combination has, undoubtedly, contributed to all sorts of chronic diseases – from obesity to cancer.

However, I think that, collectively, we are taking the “what you eat determines your health” paradigm too far.

Blaming a poor diet for a person’s illness reeks of victim-blaming. It says to the person who is ill, you wouldn’t be sick if you ate differently. You wouldn’t be sick if you ate more vegetables, or fewer desserts, or more or less carbohydrates, or more or less protein, or more or less fat. In telling a person who is sick that he or she wouldn’t be sick if he or she had eaten differently, you are telling that person that it is his or her fault that he or she is sick.

Is that fair? And, more importantly, is it true?

Health is determined by many factors, not just diet. Genetics, of course, also play a role in health. Exercise, stress, time in the sun, social connections, etc. also contribute to health – and disease. Exposure to toxins also has a huge effect on health. Toxins in our environment – from pollution and from them being intentionally added to our food and water – affect our health – and being poisoned by them, either slowly or suddenly, can cause illness. Pharmaceuticals are also an under-recognized source of toxins that adversely affects the health of many (though it takes a paradigm shift to realize how much harm prescription drugs do because we all think that drugs should be helping us, not hurting us).


The blaming of diet for diseases has gotten to a point of ridiculousness. In an article published in The Atlantic entitled Living Sick and Dying Young in Rich America, the author asks a doctor if the autoimmune disease that her husband (who is in his 30s) suffers from is the result of growing up eating Spaghetti-O’s and drinking Pepsi. In a round-about way, blaming addiction to junk food, the doctor confirms that her husband’s diet is the culprit. Really??? Does that really seem reasonable to anyone – that Spaghetti-O’s and Pepsi could cause an autoimmune disease? Because I’m pretty sure that autoimmune diseases are caused by malfunctioning immune system cells, and that the doctor should look at things that have been confirmed to damage immune system cells as potential culprits, before blaming Spaghetti-O’s. And yes, there are plenty of environmental toxins and pharmaceuticals that have been shown to adversely affect immune system cells (lymphocytes).*

On March 20, 2014, former Fox News personality Glenn Beck announced that his doctors had determined that the cause of his neuropathy, inflammation and pain was his diet. His doctor told him, “‘Well, basically, you are being poisoned… Food is poisoning you.’” Glenn Beck looks like a pretty typical American so I’m sure that his diet is not perfect. But I’m also pretty sure that he’s eating FOOD, not poison, and that his doctor is simply wrong in telling him that the neuropathic pain that he is experiencing is due to his food poisoning him. Poison, not food, poisons people. Perhaps Mr. Beck should look at what pharmaceutical poisons he has taken in lately – especially fluoroquinolones – because fluoroquinolones can do enough cellular damage to cause neuropathic pain – but Taco Bell burritos can’t.

I’m sure that Mr. Beck will adjust his diet by cutting out the foods that are perceived to be poison, and I truly hope that helps him. Most people who are suffering from diseases that cannot be cured by modern medicine adjust their diet to try to heal themselves. Many people who are struggling with chronic illness stick to a “perfect” diet. For some, “perfect” means the Paleo Diet. For others, “perfect” means the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Some stick to a raw food diet. Some juice. Some avoid gluten, or sugar, or dairy, or meat, or all of those things. Yet, even with a “perfect” diet, they are still sick. They have not been magically cured by adding or subtracting some food source. They are sick – chronically ill – and though adjustments to diet may be helpful, they are not a cure for many (maybe most) people.

An even bigger problem with blaming diseases on diet than the victim blaming and nonsense explanations, is that the real explanation for the disease is not sought. Chef Boyardee, Taco Bell and Pepsi become the scapegoats and the real culprit behind the disease is ignored. Something is really causing autoimmune diseases, neuropathic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and all the other diseases that are striking young Americans. Blaming diet, and thus blaming the victim, may be convenient, but it is not the whole answer (or even part of the answer if you are feeling cynical). The real answers will remain elusive until we demand real, sensible answers to the question of what causes the chronic diseases of modernity.

Sure, a diet full of sugar, hydrogenated-fat and chemicals isn’t good for you, and it is surely contributing to many diseases, but does it really make sense to blame a poor diet on body-wide neuropathic pain, or on a person being so drained of energy that they feel like they have the flu and a bus hit them even after a full night’s sleep? It sure doesn’t make sense to me.

What does make sense to me is iatrogenic mitochondrial dysfunction. Many pharmaceuticals, including fluroquinolone antibiotics, statins, metformin (a diabetes drug), multiple chemotherapy drugs, and others, have been shown to damage mitochondria and lead to oxidative stress. Mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress can lead to multi-symptom chronic illnesses and neuropathic pain. (Source)

Perhaps diet isn’t solely to blame for many of the diseases of modernity. Perhaps pharmaceutical drugs – especially fluoroquinolones, and the medical system, share much of the responsibility for causing many of the chronic, mysterious diseases that plague people today.

It’s time for a paradigm shift. Moving away from victim blaming is a very good place to start.

* Here are some articles about how fluoroquinolones adversely effect lymphocytes (immune system cells) –

Nepal Medical College Journal, Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of antibacterial drug, ciprofloxacin, on human lymphocytes in vitro”

Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “Ciprofloxacin Induces an Immunomodulatory Stress Response in Human T Lymphocytes


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8 thoughts on “What’s Poisoning You?

  1. lisal knarlson March 24, 2014 at 10:59 am Reply

    Great article Lisa. .I struggled with diet and exercise to fix my structural problems from Levaquin for almost 4 years, many diets, many stretches, with only marginal results and a lot of frustration- being accused of noncompliance, not following the right diet, the right supplements and the right stretches. Each new care provider whether allopathic or naturopathic had a new set of instructions. I have found myofascial release, visceral manipulation, lymphatic drainage to be much more effective in addressing the structural damage including connective tissue, tendon, muscle, nerve compression (look at the white parts in an illustration of anatomy). Connective tissue (fascia) holds organs like intestines, kidneys and liver in their proper position too. These therapies are a process so it didn’t work overnight for me but I have improved more in just a little over a year than in all 4 years prior combined.

    • Lisa Bloomquist March 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm Reply

      Thank you, Lisal! It’s difficult to find the treatments that work for you. All of us floxies are so different in both our symptoms and our treatments. I’m so glad that you have found a combination of therapies that are helping you!

      I’m sure that people generally mean well when they say, “have you tried going paleo?” or whatever. They tend not to understand that complex, multi-symptom issues like FQ toxicity aren’t easy to fix, and that if it was a matter of only eating the “right” things, we would all “cure” ourselves in a second.

  2. Marie March 25, 2014 at 2:16 am Reply

    Hello Lisa,

    First if all thank you so much for this website. Most of the stuff I’ve read on the internet has been terrifying but I really like your positive and constructive approach.

    I recently realised the symptoms I’ve been having for three months (peripheral neuropathy, joint and tendon pain, double vision, brain fog, anxiety etc etc) are probably due to cipro poisoning after being told I had an auto-immune syndrome (even though my lab results didn’t support that diagnosis).
    I first had some symptoms two weeks after finishing my prescription a year and a half ago – basically generalised tendinitis and joint pain, which my doctor recognised as being a reaction to the cipro, and actually apologised for prescribing it to me! The pain mostly went away on it’s own, though I did have the odd twinge throughout the following year – until December last year when for some reason everything went haywire.

    At this point, I don’t even know if I want to bother talking to doctors about this. I no longer live in the same country as the doctor that originally prescribed the cipro to me, and I don’t have the energy to try to persuade another one that I’m not making this up. I’ll need help at some point – the double vision is starting to make it hard to read for example (is this something that can go away with time BTW?).

    You make some excellent points in this article, and I suppose one positive thing about being floxed is that it ‘s a real eye-opener. We’re the ones who had the bomb go off, but how many people are walking around with constant low-level pain and no idea where it’s coming from?

    • Lisa Bloomquist March 25, 2014 at 7:51 am Reply

      Hi Marie,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! And you’re very welcome for the site. I’m not always positive. The post that we’re commenting on goes into the “annoyed rant” category, not the hopeful category, but that’s okay (IMO).

      Do you know of anything in particular that happened in December of last year when everything went haywire? Did you take any NSAIDs or steroids? Taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen) triggered my reaction. I also suspect that my hormonal fluctuations contributed to the triggering of my reaction (I was taking ibuprofen because of menstrual cramps and started my period soon thereafter). Even though I feel great now – truly, pretty close to 100% better, when I hear of these seriously delayed symptom onset stories, they scare me. Anxiety over the unknown is not helpful though, so I’ll try to suppress my fear.

      Getting floxed is definitely an eye opener. It’s kind of like seeing through the matrix. I wrote about that in a post (https://floxiehope.com/2013/11/06/seeing-through-the-matrix/). All of the “mysterious” diseases suddenly make sense. Though they’re not all directly from FQs (though a lot more are than what people see), I think that they all are from mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress. The causes of mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress are pharmaceuticals and environmental pollutants.

      It’s not even that hard once you see it. I’m not a biochemist. I just happen to have a decent internet connection and am able to synthesize various pieces of information from various articles. And it all becomes clear when you get floxed.

      As for whether or not to see another doctor here, I’m not sure what to tell you. First off, I don’t want to advise you not to see a doctor. Second, the more doctors who hear about FQs leading to multi-symptom chronic illness, the better, because maybe they’ll see it in other patients. Also, I think that it’s hugely validating, and even healing, to get acknowledgement from a doctor. BUT, there’s not a whole lot that they can do for you. And the blow of not having your pain and suffering acknowledged can be really difficult to deal with mentally and spiritually.

      That’s my two cents. 🙂

      Have a great day, Marie!


      • Marie March 26, 2014 at 5:57 am Reply

        Thanks for your answer Lisa 🙂

        I can’t really think of anything specific that might have triggered my symptoms in December. I was sick a week beforehand (sore throat etc) and saw a doctor who told me I had a viral infection and just to rest and take painkillers… But I didn’t take any medications that I hadn’t taken in the time since my first cipro reaction (I used ibuprofen for residual tendon pain throughout the year for example with no apparent averse effects). So no idea really. Maybe it was the infection itself, or a gradual build-up?

        I read in your recovery story that yoga helped you a lot, which is something I’d be interested in trying. My legs are in pretty bad shape though, and I’m worried about snapping a tendon if I try to follow a regular or even beginner class – I practised yoga on and off throughout the years and thinking of some of the poses I used to do with ease now makes my eyes water! How did you go about it?

        On another subject, I was wondering if you have ever considered writing for the mainstream media about your experience and subsequent discoveries. As I said in my first message this website is great, but people who come across it tend to be the ones already suffering from averse effects of FQs. Articles like this one http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2097415/Taking-antibiotics-ruptured-tendon-The-hidden-dangers-everyday-drugs-assume-harmless.html can be a bit sensationalist but get thousands of hits and might help people think twice before allowing doctors to prescribe them these drugs – and that is half the battle.

  3. impossibleadversity March 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm Reply

    I was already very diet-conscious and supplementing myself for years before cipro added to my misery, and my gut could take anything. Wasn’t an athlete but I’ve actually gotten compliments on my bloodwork afterward, paradoxically since otherwise being nearly out of commission (doesn’t look like will continue for long anyhow). The same must be true for anyone who actually was an athlete this happened to. There’s definitely a link between food and the immune system, but I know from the worst experience it takes a full-frontal hit for someone like us to develop something like neuropathy in a few days.

  4. John October 3, 2015 at 11:26 pm Reply

    Awesome blog post! when I tell close family and friends, which is only a handful bc I’m almost embaressed to tell people about the issues I have since the fq’s, they almost always bring up diet. I’ve even been referred to documentaries on Netflix on diet choices that may hel me. This post made me smile and even laugh about responses in regards to diet from loved ones and even physicians.

  5. Chris Butler August 3, 2017 at 2:12 pm Reply

    I like this article and I think it has some very valid points. I do believe the food supply is responsible for many health issues. Look at the number of chemicals in the food. The real question is about the choices we make. After all the research I did on food and the chemicals in them, I can say changing to organic helped me heal not only from the effects of Levaquin and Avelox, but from the side effects of chemical laden food.
    I used to get sinus infections regularly, haven’t had one since going organic. I cut back drastically on dairy, I don’t have the GI problems or skin problems to include dandruff anymore. A friend of mine was tested for food sensitivities and it was found that gluten and dairy was causing her migranes. She changed her diet to exclude gluten and dairy and the migraines disappeared.
    So I think the food issue needs to be treated separately from the FQ issues. I do think the FQ’s do amplify the problems with processed foods, but again, I believe they should be treated separately.
    Life is about choices. In this day and age when information is readily available at our fingertips, we shouldn’t be blaming our health problems on the food, we should look in the mirror first and ask what can I do differently.
    Changing my diet made a big difference in my overall health plus it helped me put the colitis which was caused by the antibiotics into remission.

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