Antibiotics have a long and interesting history. For thousands of years, ancient peoples used various molds to fight infections, while not truly understanding the properties at work. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the term ‘antibiotic’ even came into use, coined by a pupil of the scientist Louis Pasteur, literally meaning ‘anti-life.’ It was first noticed by the surgeon Joseph Lister that urine contaminated with mold would not allow new bacteria to grow. A few years later, penicillin was discovered, and the modern age of antibiotics was born.

No doubt the discovery of antibiotics have been a major leap in human health progress. But it has been thought by many that it has now hit a period of overuse, if not outright abuse. By 1965 over 25,000 different antibiotic products had been developed, and a huge industry now proliferates, creating new and more precise antibiotics intent on killing any and all bacteria.

Unfortunately, its efforts are backfiring. In fact, researchers believe that the overuse of antibiotics has created bacteria immune to the effects of antibiotics. Moreover, antibiotics do not exist in a vacuum; the human immune system still has its part in resisting infection. Any remaining bacteria not overcome can become stronger through mutation, resulting in antibiotic resistance and stronger bacterial opponents. Also, your intestines have many bacteria in them, which are necessary and support healthy immune function. Overuse of antibiotics can create an imbalance of “bad” bacteria, as the system can’t differentiate between the two.

The best way to avoid abusing antibiotics is simple - increase your immune system’s potentiality. Immune system health can be augmented with diet. Foods high in Vitamin C are some of the best immune system boosters, as well as Vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and cartenoids, all found in various fruits and vegetables. Garlic is also considered a wonder in terms of immune system nutrition. Lastly, foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or flax oil, can fight respiratory infections. Ultimately, a whole foods diet backed up with the right immune system supplements can eliminate the need for excessive use of antibiotics altogether.