The Medical Journal of Australia published findings recently which showed GPs are prescribing antibiotics at a rate of up to nine times higher than the current guidelines suggest.
As you’ve read on my blog, or seen in my events, the rise of antibiotic resistance poses an ominous threat to humankind, with a British investigation suggesting that by 2050 resistant infections could kill up to ten million people per year.
According to health authorities like the WHO, it is the drastic misuse of antibiotics which is resulting in this crisis.
In a five year study, Australian doctors were shown to over prescribe antibiotics for acute respiratory infections such as bronchitis, influenza and tonsillitis.
Stunningly, even though antibiotics are not recommended for acute bronchitis, the prescription rate was 85%!
The study wrote, had GPs adhered to the guidelines, they would have prescribed antibiotics… at 11–23% of the current prescribing rate. Essentially this means that if GPs followed the guidelines, they would prescribe antibiotics up to almost 90% less than they currently do.
Bond University’s Professor Chris Del Mar, who headed up the study, said on the ABC’s The World Today that they were shocked by the results.
“The difference is much bigger than we thought,” he said.
“Because what we knew before was that compared to the best-performing countries in this regard — places like the Netherlands and Sweden — we are prescribing about twice as much as they do for these conditions.”
Importantly, Professor Del Mar said doctors were likely acting out of a misplaced sense of caution, as many conditions requiring treatment with antibiotics exhibit similar symptoms to those that don’t.
It is here where I would also emphasise that the consumer/patient who goes in expecting or even demanding antibiotics is also contributing to this problem. Although GPs ultimately have the final say and should be educating/empowering patients’ immune systems, a patient who can be only be placated with antibiotics is, I’m sure, a disruptive problem, especially when GPs are under increasing pressure to see more patients in less time.
This ultimately begs the question, how can we empower the immune system to deal with such trivial ARIs without the use of antibiotics?
There is quite literally a plethora of research showing the benefits of herbal medicines and probiotics for immune health. Why this cornucopia is not wholly embraced by western medicine is perplexing to me however consumers often have easy access to these products online or over the counter.
The other point to be made here is, it is quite normal for the human body to go through short term illness. We’ve all heard of developing natural immunity after contracting illness (think Measles and Chicken Pox) but for some reason in this fast paced, modern era people simply will not accept a little dose of coughing and sniffles any more. Personally, I used to experience serious chest infections for up to three months at a time, however in the last two years I’ve only been sick once for two weeks after traveling in Namibia for my documentary. This is the result of an optimised immune system through proper nutrition, movement and sunshine!
Here are my top three tips for boosting your immune system.
1: Eat real food.
Stay clear of processed food and don’t over eat. Eat plenty of fresh greens and herbs as these contain an abundance of immune boosting compounds. I spoke to Australia’s Science Channel recently and I said if I can get people to eat more vegetables, I’ve done my job. Doing so will naturally improve your microbiome which is where 70-90% of the immune system resides. For further reading check out my book The Gut Healing Protocol.
2: Move every day.
Exercise is incredibly important in maintaining a strong immune system. Be sure to move for at least 45 minutes every single day, be it walking, cycling, gymnastics, surfing, swimming or playing with the kids. Pump that lymphatic system!
3: Optimise vitamin D levels.
Dr John Cannel of the vitamin D council, alongside a plethora of research, suggests vitamin D to be a critical factor in maintaining strong immunity. If you’re sitting at a desk inside all winter breathing artificial air and being radiated by several computer screens, don’t expect your body to be in tip top shape. Make a point of seeing the sun every single day (enough, but don’t get burnt – this is different for everybody).
This post was brought to you by my upcoming Gut Movie Official Australian Tour. Stay tuned for dates!
Heal Your Gut – Final Events!
My best selling event, Heal Your Gut, is in two final locations this year; Adelaide and Sydney! Come learn, in a fun and entertaining way, about the gut and microbiome! I’ll take you through the basics and then give you a great understanding on how you can begin to heal!