Antibiotic use weakens immune system’s ability to fight off disease
(NaturalHealth365) There has been a rising tide of awareness regarding the dangers of overusing antibiotics. Not only are viruses developing antibiotic resistance at an alarming rate; new research out of the University of Virginia School of Medicine has found that antibiotic use can also make the gut microbiome and the immune system more prone to disease.
The researchers believe this is due to a reduction in the positive gut bacteria microbes that assist in fighting off disease. While antibiotics assist with fighting off unhealthy bacteria and other invaders, they can also suppress growth of the bacteria that contributes to a healthy gut microbiome and a robust immune system.
Immune system ‘first responder cells’ impaired by antibiotic use
The researchers specifically found that neutrophils, an important immune system white blood cell, was dramatically suppressed. This weakened the intestinal barrier against invading bugs and made the entire immune system less effective at fighting off infections.
Neutrophils are in a sense the immune system’s “first responders” against invading foreign pathogens. Antibiotics were found to disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome to the extent that natural microbes could not properly do their job. This in turn left the gut and the entire body more susceptible to infection.
Researchers are still looking for more insights into the role of the gut microbiome in health. The microorganisms that live inside of us are still somewhat mysterious, but undoubtedly play a key role in both digestion and our overall health.
Entire gut microbiome and immune system compromised by overuse of antibiotics
For the study, the University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers zeroed in on amebic colitis, a deadly parasitic infection commonly found in developing countries. In many third world or developing countries, antibiotic use is widespread.
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The researchers collected and analyzed stool samples from children living in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. They found those with the most severe infections had far less gut microbiome diversity. This correlated with high antibiotic use in this area, where children often receive two dozen or more antibiotic treatments by the age of two.
Lab mice were then used to see how this reduction in intestinal flora could worsen disease. The mice’s gut microbiomes were indeed found to be impaired, with reduced neutrophils and overall white blood cell activity. Additionally, the intestinal barrier was found to be compromised, leaving this area extremely vulnerable to disease.
Use vitamin C, vitamin D and healthy diet to bolster the immune system naturally
This research adds to the mounting evidence that antibiotics should not be used unless absolutely necessary. Not only does antibiotic overuse lead to multi-drug resistant bacteria; it also raises the risk for infection due to impaired immune system functioning.
Let this serve as a reminder to avoid antibiotics whenever possible. Instead, strive to keep your immune system strong through a healthy diet, sufficient vitamin C and adequate vitamin D intake through sunshine exposure and/or supplementation.
We, at NaturalHealth365, can only hope that government health officials – especially within developing countries – will read this article and take action to help save lives.
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