Concerns about over prescription of antibiotics are not new. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about overusing antibiotics. In November 2010, the organization urged consumers to learn about the proper use of antibiotics. While these potent drugs can help treat many illnesses, their overuse has spawned the rise of deadly superbugs, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Furthermore, antibiotics can also negatively affect normal cells, weaken your immune system and destroy healthy flora in your colon, according to nutrition consultant Lawrence Wilson. However, you can protect your immune system while using antibiotics.
Start taking probiotics at the same time you begin a course of antibiotic treatment, which will help reduce symptoms such as antibiotic-related diarrhea and protect immune-boosting bacteria in your colon. According to Science Daily, a suggested dose of probiotics for adults is at least 10 billion colony forming units per day.
Get as much sleep as possible — about seven to nine hours — after your worst symptoms have subsided; sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. Don't try to fight sleeplessness in the early stages of battling infection, however, as this may help produce a fever and speed recovery, according to a study published in a 2009 issue of "Nature Review Neuroscience."
Eat 2 cups of fruits and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily. These are foods rich in vitamins C, E, carotenoids and bioflavonoids — all of which have antioxidant properties.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week as exercise stimulates the immune system to build cells, such as T cells and macrophages, that fight diseases and infections, according to naturopath Peter Bennett, author of "The Purification Plan."
Add garlic to your meals or take a garlic supplement, as garlic has strong immune-boosting abilities and triggers white cell production, according to AskDrSears.com.
Eat foods rich in selenium daily. These foods include tuna, red snapper, shrimp, whole grains, brown rice, egg yolks, chicken breast, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts.
Never take antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.
If you are on a course of antibiotics, do not stop taking them without your doctor’s advice. Taking the entire course of prescribed antibiotics is the only way to eliminate the harmful bacteria in your body, according to MayoClinic.com.
Consult your naturopath or family doctor before taking any herbs to strengthen your immune system.
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- CNN: CDC Expands Campaign Against Overuse of Antibiotics
- Caring.com: Smarten Up About Antibiotics, CDC Urges
- The Center for Development: Beyond Antibiotics
- ScienceDaily: Probiotics May Help People Taking Antibiotics
- Nature Review Neuroscience: How (and why) the immune system makes us sleep
- “The Purification Plan”; Peter Bennett, N.D.; 2006
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
- AskDrSears.com: Feeding Your Immune System
- American Dietetic Association: Easy Ways to Get Your Fruits and Vegetables
- MayoClinic.com: Antibiotics: Misuse Puts You and Others at Risk