Ditch The Antibiotics and Reach For Berry Juice Instead


WomensHealth |

By Alice Paulse

We’re on the brink of a dangerous era in which everyday diseases – ones that we’re used to knocking out with pills-could become virulent killers. But there might be some light at the end of the tunnel…

The Burning

The urgency.  As soon as it started, Melissa, 31, recognised the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, a painful but common condition that plagues millions of women a year. She thought that, as usual, an antibiotic would quickly knock it out of her system, so she called her doctor, who prescribed a course.

Melissa felt better for a few days, but a week later, the infection came roaring back. A different antibiotic provided the same short-lived results. So she went to her gynaecologist, who analysed her urine and discovered that the strain of E.Coli (the intestinal bacterium that’s the most common cause of UTIs) that was fuelling her infection was resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Her gynae suggested she try to flush out the monster microbes by drinking vast quantities of water and cranberry juice. When that didn’t work, she landed in the E.R with a kidney infection. Four months later- months of constant bathroom trips and missed work, of shunning sex with her fiancé and skipping happy hour with her friends- she sought out an infectious- disease specialist, who put her on a powerful broad- spectrum antibiotic. It worked…for two months.

Melissa is now seeing a urologist and is on a six-month course of yet another antibiotic, which she takes after sex to keep an infection from flaring up.

Her Nightmare

Is one that doctors are seeing with growing frequency: antibiotic- resistant growing infections resulting from overuse of the drugs in humans and farm animals; on the other hand, under-use thanks to severely limited access- often due to prohibitively high costs of quality meds- which creates an environment primed for superbugs to flourish unchecked.

Prescription for Trouble

Dr. Brad Spellberg, an infectious –disease specialist, says that we have helped them by failing to develop new ones and overusing drugs, as warnings from experts have fallen on deaf ears, overuse is rampant. An alarming statistics states that – 250 million prescriptions are written annually. Why? To appease patients pleading for a pill to threat a runny nose of scratchy throat.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that while only 10 percent of adults with a sore throat actually have a bacterial strep infection, they are prescribed antibiotics an estimated 60 percent of the time.

The Deadly Tempest

The urge to stuff ourselves full of meds just in case is understandable: nobody wants to wait it out when there’s the possibility of a quick fix- especially when you’re juggling the pressures of a demanding job, taking care of your family and the hum-drum of everyday life.

Here is the tricky bit… when your doctor informs you to complete the course if antibiotics, there is a method behind his instruction. We tend to abandon the meds as soon as our symptoms have disappeared. It is this failure to complete the medication that is an ingredient for a recipe of resistance.

Oh well, that’s no biggy’ you might say but patients, who fail to finish the full course of their antibiotics have been a key contributor to the scary rise of drug-resistant TB strains in S.A. Scary, eh?

Your Dinner Table 

The problem is just not in your doctor’s office- yes, it’s on your dinner table too. Unbeknownst to us, farmers add antibiotics to animal feed so they can keep their livestock healthy in close quarters and supersize their growth. A 2011, U.S study found antibiotic – resistant on 69 percent of pork chops, 55 percent of beef mince and 39 percent of chicken breasts, wings and thighs. Gross, right, but also alarming!

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Vegetarians, do not get to rest easy! “As the fertilisers that are used to grow crops may have come from the intestines of animals that are fed antibiotics”, says Spellberg. Even if you ate only organic meat and crops that were fertilised in alternative ways, you can spread these daily germs among themselves with no outside assistance.

Sneezing, coughing and hand shaking are just some of the ways you can pass them on.

Enough about the Cause. Here Is the Cure

The Cranberries…yes a fruit that can actually help reduce the use of antibiotics, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As 60 percent of women suffer a UTI in their lifetime and with 1 in 4 who will have a recurrence within six months- will be treated with an antibiotic. The role of cranberries has always been thought of as not to impactful but this landmark study changes all of that.

During the study, participants were randomly chosen to drink a daily dose of 240 ml of either cranberry juice or a “placebo” beverage without cranberries. The rate of UTIs decreased significantly among the cranberry drinkers, with just 93 diagnoses during the six-month study compared with 67 in the placebo group, and as a result, may be a useful strategy to decrease worldwide use of antibiotics.

Drinking a glass of cranberry juice a day can reduce the recurrence of symptomatic UTIs in woman by nearly 40 percent. Stock up on cranberry juice and quit the antibiotics.

Extracts were taken from www.womenshealthmag.com

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