Scientists have discovered traces of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria (NDM-1) in the soil of Svalbard. This archipelago is located in the arctic ocean between the North Pole and Norway, several thousand kilometers from India where the bacteria was originally discovered. This is described in a study that is published in the science journal, Environment International. Bacteria with the resistance gene NDM-1 have now spread to a number of other countries and many people have lost their lives to them. Humans are also challenged by other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the British health authorities consider this to be a larger threat to humans than climate change. But what causes these bacteria to develop resistance? And what vitamins and minerals are particularly important for bolstering the immune system? After all, our immune defense is our only way of protecting ourselves if antibiotics fail to work.
Since the beginning of time, microorganisms have been a significantly larger threat to humans than warfare, terror, and natural catastrophes. 25 percent of Europeans died of the plague, and staphylococcus, streptococcus, tuberculosis, and syphilis infections have also killed millions of people. For that reason, the discovery of penicillin was a revolution, but the use of this drug has often been uncontrolled. Because of this, we are now faced with a situation where a growing number of bacteria develop resistance, and the problem knows no boundaries and has therefore become a global threat.
In India, for example, enormous quantities of antibiotics are used, and there are traces of the medicine in the soil and water, which increases the development of resistant bacteria. A growing number of bacteria now carry the NDM-1 gene (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1), which was discovered for the very first time in New Delhi in 2008. Many Indian people die of NDM-1 bacteria, and this type of bacteria has now spread to over 100 countries. According to Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, the first case of NDM-1 in a Danish patient was discovered in 2010.
Polar regions such as Svalbard are considered to be some of the last pristine eco-systems in the world, but now a group of scientists from Newcastle University has discovered 131 resistance genes in soil samples collected from eight different sites. In 60 percent of the samples, the resistance gene was the feared NDM-1.
It remains to be answered if the gene is transferred by humans or birds. Although science has not yet found NDM-1 bacteria, the problem can be quite serious if harmful bacteria steal the gene. It is sort of like a biological race, and one must never underestimate the extreme ability of microbes to survive.
How does resistance develop?
Bacteria are one-celled organisms and have genetic codes for every single trait. For a bacterium to develop antibiotic resistance, it must alter one or several genes, either by means of mutations or by the bacterium receiving resistance genes from other bacteria in the following three ways:
Conjugation is sort of like a sexual process where the genetic material is transferred through direct contact between cells
Transduction bears a resemblance to a delivery company. Here, the genetic material may be delivered by a particular type of virus (bacteriophages)
Transformation is like a grave robbery. Here, a bacterium snatches free DNA from a dissolved bacteria cell and integrates the new properties in its genetic material.
Bacteria have access to a global biological internet
The ability of bacteria to exchange genes is believed to be that effective that they have access to a giant gene pool, which one can compare to a global biological internet. On a large scale, antibiotics are really not a problem for bacteria. All they need to develop resistance is sufficient time and mutual contact.
There are many other antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as e.g.:
Fewer antibiotics and more focus on hygiene and the immune defense
There is a global interest in minimizing the problems with antibiotics resistance, but the job is far from finished. If we still want the different types of antibiotics to work properly, we must try to use them as little as possible and strictly for combating complicated and life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia, blood poisoning, and borrelia. In the long run, we must strive to address those factors that have caused an increased rate of these infectious diseases.
It is also important to look at hygiene, especially in hospitals, as a way of preventing these multi-resistant bacteria from spreading.
We should also remember that the body’s immune defense is able to tackle most infections, provided we get enough of the right nutrients.
Good ways to strengthen the immune defense
The immune system is responsible for targeting bacteria and virus. It features different types of troops that work together in different ways, depending on what they need to fight.
The non-specific immune defense can be compared to storm troops, and it consists of different proteins and most types of white blood cells. The non-specific immune system fights most infectious germs without us even noticing.
The specific immune defense contains white blood cells, T and B cells, and antibodies that come to rescue in situations where the non-specific defense is unable to handle the task. The immune defense needs a host of different nutrients that are normally provided through a healthy diet. However, factors such as nutrient-depleted soil, poor diet habits, lack of sunlight, pregnancy, ageing processes, stress, and disease may increase the need for particular nutrients.
Did you know that one in ten patients in Danish hospitals acquires an infection, and that lack of nutrients is an overlooked problem?
Generous amounts of vitamin C for prevention and for nipping infections in the bud
Vitamin C plays a major role in the immune defense. We have particularly many white blood cells in our airways, which protect us against airborne contaminants. Therefore, it is important that these white blood cells get enough vitamin C, especially in situations where an infection is developing. Most animals are able to synthesize vitamin C, and they multiply their production of the nutrient if they contract an infection as a way of strengthening the immune defense. Humans, on the other hand, need to get their vitamin C from the diet or from supplements. Just like with animals, our need for the nutrient increases if we get an infection.
It is a good idea to get a lot of vitamin C from fruit and other good sources. However, just for the record, you must eat around 55 apples or 13 oranges in order to get the same amount of vitamin C as you get by taking a tablet with 750 mg of non-acidic vitamin C.
Vitamin D is the battery of the immune defense
Our main source of vitamin D is the sun during the summer period, but studies show that around 50 percent of Danes lack vitamin D. Danish scientists have observed that T cells are highly dependent on vitamin D. As soon as they need to fight a microorganism, they are activated for massive cell division and a full-frontal attack. The current reference intake (RI) level for children and adults is too low to ensure a well-functioning immune defense, and a growing number of scientists claim that the actual need for vitamin D is between 30 and 100 micrograms daily. We can easily synthesize that amount by being outdoors on a hot summer day. During the winter period and in other situations where we are unable to get enough sunlight, however, we need supplements because a normal diet only provides limited quantities of the nutrient.
Selenium strengthens the immune defense, and there is widespread deficiency
We have a lot of selenium in the organs of the immune system such as our lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. Selenium is involved in the immune system’s communication and enables swift production of millions of white blood cells and antibodies to help protect us against infections.
In a study of 134 patients, French doctors measured levels of selenium in the blood. In patients with signs of a serious infection, selenium levels in the blood were nearly halved in a matter of short time. Selenium is found in fish, shellfish, eggs, offal, Brazil nuts, and grains. Large parts of Europe are low in selenium, and many Europeans are unable to get enough selenium from the diet. In countries like the United States, Canada, and Japan, intake levels of selenium are considerably higher than in Europe.
Studies show that supplementation with selenium yeast with many different organic selenium compounds has far better absorption and is utilized much better by the body than inorganic selenium compounds or isolated compounds such as selenomethionine.
|American studies show that daily supplementation with 200 micrograms of selenium increases white blood cell activity by 80 percent.|
Zinc for the conductors of the immune defense
Zinc is especially important for T helper cells, which are the conductors of the immune defense. A zinc deficiency can either weaken the immune defense, causing infections to drag out, or the immune defense may overreact, which causes chronic inflammation.
Zinc is mainly found in meat, shellfish, dairy products, nuts, kernels, and beans, and animal sources have the best absorption. Severe zinc deficiencies are rare in our part of the world but there are many cases of moderate and minor deficiencies. This may be caused by unhealthy eating habits, vegetarian/vegan diets, ageing processes, birth control pills and medicine. When taking zinc supplements, beware that many supplements contain inorganic zinc forms such as zinc sulfate or zinc oxide that are difficult for the body to absorb. It is better to use organic zinc forms such as zinc gluconate and zinc acetate, which the body can easily absorb and utilize.
|Around 25% of the global population is believed to be zinc-deficient|
Q10 is fundamental throughout life
Q10 is a coenzyme that is involved in cellular energy metabolism. Q10 is like an immune trigger that enables the white blood cells to fire off their ammunition. Studies show that Q10 stimulates the production of IgG antibodies and lowers blood levels of the inflammation marker interleukin-6. The body makes most of the Q10 for its own needs, but after we reach an age of 20 years, we gradually produce less, and many people notice that their vitality decreases as a result of this when they get to the age of 50. It is difficult for the body to absorb Q10 from supplements. Therefore, it is essential to choose a product that can document its absorption and quality.
Prioritize essential nutrients and take supplements of the right herbs
You can easily boost your immune defense by eating lots of herbs such as garlic, thyme, oregano, ginger, and turmeric. Echinacea, elderberries, and rosehips are also available in a number of supplements. Humans are essentially able to live without these herbs, but we cannot do without the essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Minor deficiencies tend to make us weak and more vulnerable to disease, while severe deficiencies may be life-threatening.
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