Antibiotics a Serious and Growing Health Risk?
Antibiotics, those "cure-all" pills that we've all been taking since we were kids, are a true double-edged sword. While they have saved many lives when prescribed for bacterial infections-things like pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis-antibiotics are vastly overused and wreaking havoc inside our bodies.
Part of the problem is that, as a culture, we expect our doctors to prescribe an antibiotic to fix our (and our children's) cold, flu, earache and more. At the first sign of a sniffle, many of us still run to our doctor for a prescription, and some may request-or even demand-one.
But, while some 40 years ago antibiotics were thought to be the magic miracle pill and doctors prescribed them for everything from colds to acne, today we know that antibiotics are useless against viruses.
Viruses are the most frequent cause of infections. Upper respiratory infections, measles, mumps, chickenpox, shingles, glandular fever, cold sores, flu and gastroenteritis are common examples of a viral infection.
The Baby with the Bathwater
Antibiotics, however, do kill bacteria, and they do this quite well. The problem is that they not only kill the bad bacteria that may be causing your illness, but they also kill ALL bacteria, including the good kind in your digestive tract that your body needs, leaving barren territory for all sorts of trouble to brew.
You may already know the names of some of the friendly - acidophilus and bifidus. You can buy these in supplements called probiotics. Antibiotics upset the balance of these good bacteria in your intestines, paving the way for an alarming number of diseases to flourish. One of the most common is a systemic fungal infection.
Yeast are also a normal inhabitant of your digestive tract, but when the friendly bacteria are destroyed, they changed into a pathogenic form and create havoc if left unchecked. They can move into your bloodstream quickly and cause a very serious and very common infection called candidiasis.
If your gut is a perfectly balanced, or even fairly well balanced, environment, you are well on your way to enjoying a healthy, disease-free life. If, on the other hand, you were to look inside your gut to see it overridden with pathogenic bacteria, and yeast with very few friendly bacteria, disease will be just around the corner.
Antibiotics and the Superbug
How many of you have taken one round of antibiotics, found that you are still sick, and then taken a second and even third round?
When antibiotics were first used they could kill off most any strain of infection-causing bacteria. But all bacteria are highly intelligent and future strains of pathogenic bacteria mutated to become stronger and meaner.
These new, genetically changed bacteria are resistant to even our strongest antibiotics, and newer generations of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria are multiplying. The result is that we are now forced to create even more potent antibiotics to kill these more virile bacteria. In the end we humans lose the vicious cycle.
Now that we know that pathogenic bacteria have an astounding ability to adapt and will continue to overcome even our most powerful antibiotics we must find another way to fight back.
The key to build your own natural immunity and protect against these pathogens is to change your inner environment so no unfriendly bacteria would want to live there. And the way to do this is to make sure you have enough good bacteria present to keep the bad bacteria at bay.
The intestinal tract should normally be comprised of 15 percent beneficial bacteria and 85 percent neutral, but with the onslaught of antibiotics, chlorine in our water, birth control pills and steroids, all of which upset this balance, most of us have more like 85 percent bad bacteria and 15 percent good or neutral.
How to Reduce Your Need for Antibiotics ... and Protect Yourself in Case You Must Use Them
Fortunately for us, our bodies are remarkably intelligent and quite capable of keeping us healthy if we give them the right "tools." The key to fighting off illness within your body (this includes not only bacterial infections but also viruses too) is to balance the good and bad bacteria in your gut.
Probiotic supplements have recently become increasingly popular in the United States for this reason, but there's another way to get good bacteria in your system-and it's quite tasty! Cultured foods, things like kefir (a fermented milk drink that tastes like tart yogurt) and traditionally fermented sauerkraut and other vegetables and are the best sources of probiotics around.
So whichever method you choose (choosing both the supplements and the cultured foods is best), be sure that your body is getting a steady source of good bacteria. Once your gut is balanced and healthy, you'll have to worry much less about illness in the first place, because at this point your immune system will be functioning at its optimal, disease-fighting level.
IMPORTANT NOTE #1: It is absolutely essential to eat probiotic foods and drink probiotic beverages like kefir if you must take an antibiotic. They are a much smarter "antibiotic", as nature, which is far smarter than humans, has equipped them with the innate ability to know which bad bacteria to attack, and which bacteria to leave alone.
If you consume them during antibiotic therapy, they will continually replace the good bacteria that the antibiotics wipe out. Then continue eating them for a minimum of three months to ensure that you renew a new, healthy "inner ecosystem" in your intestines. Best yet, incorporate these delicious new foods into your diet forever. You'll be very glad you did.
IMPORTANT NOTE #2: If you purchase probiotic supplements like acidophilus and bifidus from your local health food store, please know that they are not as hardy as probiotic foods. So take very large amounts of these supplements if you must take antibiotics.