All too often we reach for prescription drugs to cure our ills; however, nature provides a wide range of medicines in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Whereas prescription medicines often have potentially harmful side effects, the side effect that you can expect from these natural foods is a boost in health and vitality.
The Problem with Prescriptions
There is an epidemic of prescribed antibiotics causing more harm than good, with their widespread misuse resulting in astronomical levels of sickness, and in some cases death.
Originally introduced in the 1940s in the form of penicillin, antibiotic drugs work by disrupting the essential processes or structures of bacterial cells. Although antibiotic drugs have saved millions of lives since their introduction 75 years ago, their unrestrained use has brought about devastating repercussions. 
This is largely a two-fold problem. Firstly, through the overuse of prescribed antibiotics, we are essentially breeding an army of “superbugs” that are resistant to pharmaceuticals. This is brought about by strains of bacteria evolving and developing immunity to antibiotics, having been repeatedly exposed to this class of drug. Our overzealousness has come at a heavy cost, with an average of 700,000 deaths worldwide each year attributed to antimicrobial resistance. 
The second problem is an internal one. Whilst antibiotics are effective at treating the harmful bacteria that threaten our health, they also damage the good bacteria in the gut that we rely on to keep the harmful bacteria under control. With many of these helpful bacteria being wiped out, people are increasingly vulnerable to infection, with at least 250,000 people per year contracting infections linked to antibiotic consumption, of which 14,000 die as a consequence. 
When we take the prefix “anti” (to kill), and the word “bios” (the Greek word for life), we see that antibiotic literally means life-killing. This clearly has negative repercussions when the life we are extinguishing belongs to the good bacteria that are essential to our health. So, what’s the solution?
Back to Nature
The good news is that natural foods all around us are filled with antibiotics — we reaped the benefits of these long before we began to ingest medications. These foods are still being used around the world to heal disease without needlessly lining the pockets of large pharmaceutical companies.
Unlike man-made antibiotics, harmful bacteria do not develop resistance to the antibiotic power in these healing foods. By consuming antibiotic rich foods, you can support your body from the inside and fortify your immune system against future sickness. The best part is that these natural antibiotics are available to you right now, with zero risk attached, and at a fraction of the cost of prescribed medicines!
Since ancient times, honey has been widely known as one of the best natural antiseptics, anti-inflammatories and antimicrobials available. Both the holy Quran and Hadiths refer to honey as a healer of disease. Mānuka honey is a mono-floral honey made exclusively from the flowers of the Mānuka tree, native to Australia and New Zealand. Mānuka honey has been found to be an exceptionally effective antibacterial — this is due to high levels of the dicarbonyl compound, methylglyoxal, which is created from dihydroxyacetone in the Mānuka flowers. 
A study conducted in 2014 by the University of Wales Institute tested the antibiotic properties of Mānuka honey against three stains of the bacteria Clostridium difficile. They found that the honey effectively inhibited its growth, demonstrating the antibacterial properties of this natural food.  A recent report by the University of Greenwich echoed this, recognizing that natural antibacterial agents such as Mānuka honey present an affordable and effective treatment in lieu of increasingly powerless man-made antibiotics. 
Tip: Manuka honey is packed with health boosting phenols. Delicious spooned onto yogurt or simply added to your tea.
Onions and Garlic
As if you didn’t already have enough incentive, consuming onions and garlic may help lower the risk of cancer.  Additionally, if you reach for these versatile veggies instead of their pill equivalent, you’ll be consuming a whole host of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Ginger is undoubtedly good for more than just cooking with; this delicious root is used widely as both a spice and a medicine. There are countless reports validating ginger’s effectiveness at treating a variety of conditions, including inflammation, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.
In a study by the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, researchers found that two compounds of ginger, -gingerol and -gingerol, effectively inhibit the growth of three different strains of bacteria.  These bioactive ingredients make ginger very effective as a natural antibiotic, so why not add a generous helping to your next meal?
Another sumptuous spice with healing abilities, cinnamon has a long history of use in indigenous medicine. Laboratory studies have confirmed that cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and antibiotic spice, whilst also being a highly effective antimicrobial. 
In 2011 a cinnamon extract was tested in vitro against several different strains of bacteria and was found to have a high rate of antibacterial activity.  Cinnamon is great for protecting against fungal infections as well. It contains the chemical compound o-Methoxycinnamaldehyde, which has been clinically shown to have a strong inhibitory effect on several different types of fungi. 
With such a wide array of benefits, cinnamon is one of the healthiest (and most delicious) spices available! So don’t be shy next time you’re adding some to your dish.
Also known as Indian Saffron, this mildly aromatic smoky flavored spice, made from the root of the turmeric plant, gives food a bright yellow color. It also has a wide variety of beneficial health effects, which we covered in depth last January in our special feature on this versatile and colorful spice.
The antibiotic properties are derived from a naturally occurring compound in the plant called curcumin, which belongs to a class of micronutrients called polyphenols. Turmeric also contains vitamin B-6, manganese, potassium and iron — all of which have known antibiotic properties. The spice can even be directly applied to wounds as a paste made up with honey, to prevent or treat bacterial infections. Due to its antibiotic prowess, turmeric is being studied extensively as both a single therapeutic agent and as a complimentary treatment used in conjunction with pharmaceutical antibiotics. 
Fermented foods have been getting plenty of attention in the last few years, and rightly so — they’re a fantastic way of increasing the amount of good bacteria in your gut. These foods undergo a process of lacto-fermentation, whereby healthy bacteria feed on the starch and sugars in the food, producing lactic acid. Not only does this process preserve the food, it also creates a wide variety of beneficial enzymes, vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as probiotics — replenishing the healthy bacteria we so often lack through overuse of prescribed medications. 
These gut-enriching bacteria can be consumed in a variety of ways — sauerkraut and raw pickles are both popular choices. Kombucha tea is a refreshing alternative; one glass with your breakfast will boost your immune system and provide your body with healthy bacteria.
The Bottom Line
The figures speak for themselves; we cannot go on using prescribed antibiotic drugs at the same rate we have been doing. The death toll is already sobering, and it is set to get worse if we don’t change our attitudes towards pharmaceuticals.
However, by making the right kind of dietary choices you have the power to cultivate health from the inside out. By including these antibiotic rich foods, you are balancing your bacteria naturally while taking responsibility for your own heath rather than opting for drugs that are often not necessary. Take charge today and try these great recipes for a more natural defense against infection.References