Superbugs are proliferating at a deadly rate, killing at least 35,000 people and cause more than 2.8 million infections each year in the U.S., according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even worse news is that CDC researchers have discovered new superbugs.
One nightmarish bacterium is called CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterbacteriaceae) and is connected to E. coli, which is found in hospitals and nursing homes. The good news is that there are natural precautions you can implement to protect yourself against these deadly invaders.
Here are things you can do:
- Wash your hands effectively. Hand sanitizers kill germs, but there is something even better to deter spreadable viruses. Chief of Infectious Diseases and New York's Mount Sinai Hospital epidemiologist Aaron Glatt, M.D., says scrubbing your hands with plain soap and water for 20 seconds will lower your risk of being infected by superbugs. Plus, Glatt advises getting a flu shot — if you haven't — for an added defense.
- Eat superfoods. What you consume matters. "The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that requires the coordinated action of many vitamins and minerals for optimal function," explains Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of "Super Immunity." Adds Allan Magaziner, D.O., of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, "If we eat junk food our immune system will be weakened." A significant amount of research shows a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients A, C, D, B12, and zinc all play a role in bolstering immune function to protect against superbugs. One tasty superfood is dark chocolate. A 1.5-ounce bar of quality chocolate has as much antioxidant power as a 5-ounce glass of wine.
- Drink tea. Scientists at the University of Surrey say an antioxidant in green tea can help get rid of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Their study, published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, found that epigallocatechin (EGCG) can restore the action of aztreonam, an antibiotic used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Sip three cups of the brew daily for the most health benefits.
- Chillax time. De-stressing is also important during an outbreak that becomes nerve-wracking with frightening facts and fear of the unknown. "When we are not relaxed, we produce various stress hormones," points out Magaziner, director of the Magaziner Center for Wellness. He said a contagious virus is stressful and that stress "makes us more susceptible to infections and other chronic and life-threatening diseases." Try meditation and deep breathing, suggests Magaziner. "It stimulates the anti-inflammatory pathways, which helps the immune cells to work more effectively."
The most important thing is sticking to basic principles of taking good care of yourself. "Good nutrition, adequate sleep, and exercise are the best tools we have next to hand washing and keeping our distance from those who are already ill," concludes Fuhrman.
An Ancient Germ Fighter
A modern solution for getting rid of germs has its roots in the Middle Ages, when robbers in France stole belongings from sufferers of the Black Plague. The thieves' method for survival against the plague was an herbal solution they used during looting. You can make your own natural germ fighter to wipe on surfaces and destroy germ by following this mix: In a spray bottle, combine 48 ounces of apple cider vinegar, two drops of eucalyptus oil, two drops of lavender oil, two of drops lemon oil, and three cloves of garlic. Vinegar, essential oils, and herbs contain antibacterial and antiviral compounds.
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