Maintaining a balance of good bacteria in the body promotes wellbeing. Although antibiotics are often prescribed to help fight bacterial infections, antibiotics can wipe out all bacteria—including the good kind that helps keep our immune systems strong. Antibacterial foods and herbs can help restore and maintain that balance of good bacteria that keeps us healthy.
Support your immune system with foods that have natural antibiotic powers. Just check out these antibacterial foods and herbs:
When cut, garlic releases a sulfur compound called allicin that has natural antibiotic properties.
Garlic: Garlic’s antibacterial properties make it useful for treating and preventing colds, athlete’s foot and other infectious problems. Scientists attribute garlic’s powers to a sulfur compound called allicin, which it releases when cut or crushed. Because cooking changes and deteriorates this compound, eating raw garlic is the best way to derive the healing qualities from this antibacterial food.
Honey: Honey has long been used as an antibacterial salve, useful for treating cuts and wounds. Researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam recently discovered that bees add a protein to honey from their immune systems that gives honey its antibacterial quality. Honey also produces an enzyme that in turn produces hydrogen peroxide, which prohibits the growth of bacteria.
Cranberries: Cranberries are well-known for their ability to help prevent and treat bladder infections, in part because of their antibacterial properties. Cranberries prevent bacteria from latching onto the walls of the bladder and urinary tract by altering bacteria such as E. coli—responsible for illnesses such as kidney infections and the flu—to prevent them from forming the biofilm necessary for an infection to develop.
Basil's volatile oils lend it natural antibiotic qualities.
Turmeric: Turmeric’s essential oils contain a wealth of antibiotic molecules, making this antibacterial food useful for treating topical cuts and wounds. Turmeric is also often taken in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent and treat colds and other internal infections. Cooking can destroy the fragile antibacterial molecules in turmeric, so to retain its health benefits, try these recipes.
Oregano: Essential oils in oregano lend this herb antibacterial powers that have been shown to inhibit even salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Oregano oil is also useful at boosting immunity and preventing and treating common colds. Because oregano’s antibacterial powers are found in its oil, an oregano oil supplement is better for health than dried oregano leaves.
Peppermint: Peppermint is commonly used in toothpaste, mouthwash and other oral hygeiene products—and for good reason, too. Peppermint oil has antibacterial powers that help to kill bad breath-causing bacteria in the mouth. A 2006 study found that peppermint oil was effective against 22 different strains of bacteria.
Basil: Thanks to its volatile oils, this flavorful antibacterial herb can inhibit bacteria growth. Studies have shown that basil can restrict the growth of E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus bacteria, as well as inhibit growth in strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.