Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria. They have been used for decades to treat bacterial infections and have saved countless lives. However, antibiotics are not meant to be used to treat viral infections like the common cold or the flu, as they do not work against viruses. Taking antibiotics when they aren't necessary, or using them too often, can actually weaken your immune system in crucial ways. Let's learn why.
Some good bacteria is needed to support your immune system.
You've probably heard that antibiotics can kill the bad bacteria in your body, but they also kill off some of the good bacteria in your gut that plays a critical role in your immune system. Your body needs this good bacteria to be able to fight off infections and other health problems.
To counter this effect, use antibiotics only as prescribed and try taking probiotic shots while you're on the antibiotics to give your gut a boost.
Overuse of antibiotics can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Overuse of antibiotics has led to a growing problem in the world: antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria become immune to the effects of antibiotics, making them unable to fight off infection. This is a growing problem for humans and animals alike, with potentially devastating effects on public health.
Antibiotic resistance has been observed within the environment as well, which has contributed to its global scope. The presence of resistant bacteria on animal farms is leading some farmers to rely increasingly on antibiotics as they search for ways to keep their animals healthy while avoiding illness outbreaks in herds or flocks (the collection of domesticated animals kept by humans). While it may seem like this would help prevent antibiotic resistance from spreading among farm animals, researchers have found that using antibiotics as an all-purpose disease preventative can actually contribute significantly towards creating more drug-resistant strains; if animals are often exposed to low doses of these drugs early in life (when they need them least), then they develop greater immunity against them later on in life when they need protection most urgently - including during times when no treatment options exist at all!
Your immune system relies on you being healthy, so taking antibiotics when they aren't necessary can hurt you in the long run.
Antibiotics are used to eliminate bacteria that make people sick. Antibiotics are not meant to be used to treat viral infections like the common cold or the flu, as these are caused by a different type of germ called a virus. When you take an antibiotic for a virus-related illness such as bronchitis or strep throat, it will not work, and it may depress your immune system, making your problem worse.
Certain supplements can improve immunity according to clinical studies if taken at the proper dose.
In the case of elderberry, vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea: if you're taking these supplements at the proper dose for your body to benefit from them (and you're following the other tips in this article), then they can help improve your immune system. However, if you're not taking a supplement with enough potency or dosage to do anything beneficial for your body's immunity. The effective doses of science-backed immune-boosting ingredients include:
Elderberry contains polyphenols that can boost immunity, such as anthocyanins and flavonoids. It can help you fight off colds and viral infections by blocking the proteins that viruses need to enter your cells. It also may make it more difficult for infected cells to release the virus. Research suggests that bioflavonoids (like those found in Elderberry) can make your body better at absorbing vitamin C, which is also good for your immune system.
I recommend taking 500 mg of a liquid-form Elderberry extract daily for an immune-boosting impact.
Echinacea is a type of plant that has medicinal benefits. Some of the compounds in the plant can help boost the immune system or have antiviral properties.
Echinacea doesn't have an officially recognized effective dose, but some studies say that 300-500 mg, three times daily, would work to support immunity. This dose would be the same as taking 900 to 1500 mg daily; however, most supplements only offer a 400 mg dose. I recommend taking between 400 mg and 1200 mg of a high-quality Echinacea purpurea extract daily to boost your immunity.
Like Elderberry and Echinacea, vitamin C supplementation helps to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and the recommended daily dose is 90 mg. You can usually find it in supplements in higher doses, like 250 - 1,000 mg. It's water-soluble so your body will get rid of what it doesn't need, so don't worry about taking too much. I recommend my patients take 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily to boost their immunity.
Zinc is a key nutrient for a healthy immune system. It can help you recover from respiratory infections like the common cold and may even protect you from them.
Zinc deficiency is pretty common in older adults, and it's linked to inflammation, immune problems, and increased susceptibility to infections.
I recommend taking a zinc supplement, either as part of a multivitamin or as a standalone supplement.
Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber found in a few different things like algae, yeast, and plants.
Beta-glucan has gotten a lot of attention from healthcare professionals for its ability to change the immune system. It is known for its ability to fight infection and there have also been studies done on its potential to fight cancer.
I recommend eating a diet high in beta-glucan and taking at least 500 mg daily in supplemental form for immune health.
Using antibiotics as prescribed alongside specific dietary supplements (including probiotics) can give you the strongest response.
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Antibiotics are important for curing bacterial infections, but they can also weaken your immune system if used improperly or too often. Your doctor should prescribe them only when necessary, and sparingly, which will help protect against any future problems with antibiotic resistance. Try taking probiotics while on your course of antibiotics to help support your gut, and science-backed immune-boosting supplements to support your white blood (immune) cell activity.