How Truly Effective Are Antibiotics?

We are awash in germs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and others are all organisms that want to invade our bodies and cause infection. But we have evolved a defense against this – our immune system. We also have the advantage of technology, including antibiotics, that we can use to help our immune system in this fight.

Myths

There are several antibiotic and germ myths. The bigTrap_the_Germs one is that antibiotics work against many different types of infections, including the cold. This is not the case: Antibiotics work only against bacteria. Another myth is that all antibiotics kill bacteria. In fact, most antibiotics are bacteriostatic: They only keep bacteria from reproducing, giving our immune systems time to do the killing themselves. Some antibiotics, however, are bacteriocidal, which means they directly kill bacteria.

It said that people can become resistant to antibiotics. In fact, people themselves do not become resistant to antibiotics; it’s the bacterial populations inside of our bodies that become resistant. The caution is not that you will become resistant, but that you can become a breeding ground for resistant species of bacteria. Another myth is that antibiotics weaken the immune system. This is not true. They do not have any effect on the immune system. The immune system, in most cases, still has to fight off the infection. Antibiotics just give the immune system a chance to do so. Some people believe that if an antibiotic has not worked in a specific individual previously, that antibiotic won’t work in the future. That is not necessarily true. The effectiveness of any particular antibiotic is specific to the infection – the strain and the species of bacteria – not the person.

Alternatives

One thing about antibiotics that is not a myth isAntibiotic that they should not be overused: Overuse of antibiotics increases resistance. Therefore, it is important to find alternatives to antibiotics. In other words, it’s important to find ways to minimize infections rather than relying on an
antibiotic whenever you need to. Some alternatives are true and effective. But there are a lot that are myths.

One common myth that is offered as an alternative to treating a bacterial infection with antibiotics is supplements or products that boost the immune system. If you are healthy, well-nourished, and not sick, your immune system will be functioning optimally. There is no way to boost it or increase its activity beyond its already optimal functioning. Only if there is something inhibiting or interfering with the activity of the immune system can you take steps to restore the immune system to its normal functional state.

One product that has been around for years as an alternative to antibiotics is called colloidal silver. This is actually the element silver, in a suspension that you are meant to drink. The claim is that silver has antibacterial activity. Silver is used externally to sterilize, for example, medical equipment – but it is not meant to be taken internally. One alternative, however, is genuine: honey. Honey, while not an antibiotic when taken internally, does have antiseptic properties when used externally. Studies show that using honey as an antiseptic in a wound works quite well – almost as well as pharmaceutical creams that are designed specifically for that purpose.

Hygiene

Hand washing is the single most effective behavior to prevent getting an infection, such as the cold, flu, or more serious bacterial infections. This is especially true if you are exposed to people who you know to be sick.
Health-care workers, for example, especially need to wash their hands.
What about antibacterial soaps? These are very common on the market these days.
What makes a soap antibacterial is that it contains a chemical, the most common one being triclosan, that has an antibacterial effect. But in 2007, a systematic review concluded that antibacterial soaps containing triclosan are not more effective than regular soap. However, there are some studies that show that it may be more effective if it is combined with other antibacterial agents. The jury is still out on whether we can develop an antibacterial soap that has advantages.

We do need to take reasonable measures to stay hygienic and free from infection. Knowing when to use an antibiotic is also very helpful, as is knowing when not to use an antibiotic. While basic hygiene is good, scientists are actually considering the possibility that our modern society may in fact be too hygienic for our own good. A little exposure to germs may not be a bad thing.

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Vitamins & Nutrition – Supplementary Or Contradictory?

Even in ancient history, people understood tMoney & Vitaminshat there was some connection between nutrition, the food that we eat, and health. For example, the ancient Egyptians wrote about the fact that the liver could be used to cure night blindness. Although they didn’t understand at the time that it’s because liver contains vitamin A, they were treating a vitamin A deficiency.

One of the most common concerns people have is about vitamins. Should they take a multivitamin every day, or can they get all the nutrition they need from the food they eat? Vitamins are those nutritional substances that are essential to health in tiny amounts, but that an organism cannot manufacture in sufficient quantities itself. Therefore, you have to get vitamins from food.

Vitamins are only part of the nutritional content of food that we need to be concerned with, the micro-nutrients. Then there are the macro-nutrients, those parts of food from which we get calories or energy and also structural components, the stuff that we actually build our bodies out of. The three main types of macro-nutrients that we get in our diet are carbohydrates, lipids, and protein. Food also contains minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, sodium, and potassium.

So how do we get optimal nutrition? There iOrganic Nutritions the general agreement in the scientific community that the best way to get good nutrition is through a well-balanced, varied diet. You should avoid highly restrictive or narrow diets that are dependent on just a few different kinds of food. The USDA food pyramid goes over the rough proportions of different types of foods that would be contained in a healthy diet. A healthy diet should contain and should emphasize the following:
1.You should eat about 2 servings of fruit and 2.5 servings of vegetables per day. Try to pick from the different subgroups of vegetables, including dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, legumes, and starchy vegetables.
2.You will need 80 or more grams of grain daily, with the remainder of your carbohydrate supply originating from possibly fortified grain products.
3.You should have 3 glasses daily of low-fat milk or equivalent dairy products.
4.To round out your diet, you should get protein from lean meats as well as eggs, nuts, and legumes.

Do we need to take vitamins every day? The big vitamin myth is that taking a daily vitamin is important for everyone’s health and well-being. In fact, there is no evidence of any health benefit of routine supplementation. This is a very difficult question to study, but there have been observational studies that found no correlation between routinely supplementing with vitamins and health outcomes. Further, studies that show health advantage or a good outcome based on nutrition are only able to link those advantages of eating healthy foods—not to taking supplements.

So far, we have been talking about supplementation for healthy people with no medical conditions. But what about sub-populations?
Children have increased nutritional needs because they’re growing. Should we routinely give children vitamin supplements? It’s probably still the best recommendation, based upon the evidence, that what’s most helpful for growing kids is a healthy diet. But we all know how difficult it is to get kids to eat their vegetables. If your children have a restrictive diet despite your best efforts, it is reasonable to consider supplementation as nutritional insurance.

Pregnancy is another situation in which there are increased nutritional demands. It is routinely recommended for pregnancy – and for women who are planning on possibly becoming pregnant – to take a prenatal vitamin because you need to boost your nutritional reserves before you know that you are pregnant. There are also a number of medical conditions in which our nutritional needs may be greater than at baseline and where supplementation may be beneficial. And there are specific conditions or diseases in which there isn’t a deficiency, but taking extra vitamins may actually improve symptoms or outcome.

Vitamins are, by definition, essential to nutrition to prevent deficiencies and improve many medical outcomes. But we need to avoid the myth that if some vitamins are good, then more must be better. This has led some to recommend very high doses, sometimes called mega-doses, of vitamins. There is no theoretical reason, nor is there any evidence, to support the safety or the health effectiveness of mega-dosing. It is not recommended. Aside from the possibility of over-dosing toxicity, regularly supplementing with high doses of certain vitamins actually correlates with an increased risk of certain diseases.

The best advice is to keep it simple: Don’t get overwhelmed with the complexity of the different types of nutritional advice that people are willing to give. A few simple rules are enough. Eat a variety of foods; eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. For most people in most situations, you will be in perfect health in terms of your nutrition.

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