diana glasser - Page 2

Viewpoint: Taking Antibiotics Seriously

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the modern world.

This last March I went in to have my two lower wisdom teeth removed. While some of you might cringe and shake your heads in sympathy, the experience was not bad at all. I opted for conscious sedation. The doctor categorically refused to perform the surgery with only local anesthesia — even though I tried to explain to him that, in Europe, it is a common practice. The whole experience was short and efficient.

Afterwards, I was sent home with prescriptions for 15 Hydrocodone and 30 Keflex antibiotics. Before the surgery the nurse talked to me about the medicine I was to receive afterwards.

Nurse: You will take the antibiotic after the surgery in case you get any infections in your mouth.
Me: What if I don’t get any infections in my mouth after the surgery?
Nurse: We advise our patients to take it just in case. After mouth surgeries most people develop infections.
Me: Huh, really?

So I decided not to take any antibiotics just for prophylactic reasons and see what happens. I always thought one took antibiotics only when fighting an infection already in your system — not when you might develop one.

Instead, while I was stuck in bed sipping coconut milk and homemade chicken broth, I did some research. A friend of mine, knowing of my curious nature, sent me an article from Time magazine relating this exact issue. The facts I found are absolutely fascinating.

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the modern world. Most of us have ingested a fair share of penicillin, aminoglycoside, macrolide or anifugal antibiotics. Sadly, not only through doctor’s prescriptions but also via meat and fish products that, like us, are treated with antibiotics.

According to Natasha Campbell, MD, antibiotics wipe out the good flora not only in our digestive tract but in other organs and tissues as well. This means that our bodies become more susceptible to invasive benign bacteria and pathogens. Our digestive system allows more and more toxins to go in our blood stream because it doesn’t have enough good flora to fight against it. The results are a weakened immune system and severe gut inflammation.

Just like Candida Albicans, the Clostridia family was given a special opportunity by the era of antibiotics, because Clostridia are also resistant to them. So, every course of broad spectrum antibiotics removes good bacteria, which leaves Clostridia uncontrolled and allows it to grow. Different species of Clostridia cause severe inflammation of the digestive system, for example Clostridum Dificile causes a potentially fatal pseudo – membranous colitis. Some species of Clostridia have been linked to such debilitating digestive disorders as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

~Natasha Campbell’s “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Page 42.

Antibiotics wipe out the good flora not only in our digestive tract but in other organs and tissues as well.

Frequent use of antibiotics also makes opportunistic bacteria in the gut immune to subsequent doses. Scientists constantly have to come up with new antibiotics to keep up with the strains of bacteria that become more and more powerful every season. A good example is tuberculosis, or Mycoacterium Tuberculosis, which is resistant to all existing antibiotics, says Natasha Campbell.

A New York Times reporter quoted Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, a medical epidemiologist, stating that half of the antibiotics prescribed in the U.S. are unnecessary.

It seems like the doctors are approaching a very defensive method of practicing medicine. Something along the lines of covering all their basis. Thus we get prescribed prophylactic antibiotics.

Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the problem that every day there are millions of new strains of powerful bacteria that we humans are completely defenselessness against. While antibiotics get rid of one bacteria, we remain susceptible to ten more. It is a vicious cycle.

Maybe another approach to this problem would be to strengthen the human body enough to fight many of these infections. The only way we can do that is by having a better immune system. But boosting our immune systems doesn’t happen at the doctor’s office or through a prescription, and it’s not something you do in a hospital bed with an IV in your vein. In fact, it’s much easier and more pleasant than that. It is sharing a nutritious meal with your friends and family on a daily basis. Once you begin to listen to you body’s needs you will be amazed at the huge amount of information it is constantly trying to tell you. There are many ways to make sure your immune system gets stronger, and most of them involve paying attention to the nutrition your body needs.

Boosting our immune systems can be as simple as sharing a nutritious meal with your friends and family on a daily basis.

I’m not claiming that we should refuse to take antibiotics under any circumstance; they have been put to life-saving use many times throughout history. I took them two years ago for a severe staph infection. I am simply arguing that they should never be used lightly — for example, for prophylactic measures. They are powerful drugs that, when abused, can lead to serious chronic and auto-immune diseases as well as severe food allergies.

People who do take antibiotics should definitely take a good probiotic, eat lots of unsweetened, raw yogurt, and lacto-fermented vegetables. These food items will help re-establish good bacteria in your gut.

When an antibiotic is prescribed in a high dose, it leaves the gut with a lot of empty niches to be populated by whatever bacteria, viruses or fungi would be there first. This is a crucial time to administer a good probiotic to make sure that these niches get populated with friendly bacteria instead of pathogenic ones. Even when the course of antibiotic is short and the dose is low, it takes different beneficial bacteria in the gut a long time to recover: physiological E.coli takes two weeks, Bifidobacteria and Veillonelli take two or three weeks, Bacteroids, Peptostreptococci take a month. In in this period if the gut flora is subjected to another damaging factor(s), then gut dysbiosis may well start in earnest.

Natasha Campbell,”The Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Page 33

I decided not to take the antibiotics but I kept the prescription close. At the first sign of high fever I was ready to run to the store to fill it. However, I didn’t get an oral infection. I gave my body a chance to fight it before I ran for the pills and I am so thankful I did.

Pofta Buna!: EDN’s New Recipe Column

Diana Glasser, EDN’s new food and nutrition writer, will be sharing one recipe a week in her column, “Pofta Buna!”.

Diana Glasser has joined Eugene Daily News as our food and nutrition writer. She will give EDN readers a new recipe each week in her column “Pofta Buna!” “Pofta Buna!” is the Romanian equivalent of “Bon Apetit!” We went with the Romanian equivalent because Diana is originally from Moldova. She will also occasionally share her thoughts on health, wellness, and nutrition as well. Diana is currently earning her M.S. in Holistic Nutrition and has a blog called The Kitchen Rag.

In the first installment of “Pofta Buna!” EDN’s R.L. Stollar interviews Diana about her life, her love for food, and her interest in nutrition. Then Diana shares an easy recipe for a fantastic dessert.

A little bit about Diana


Can you tell me a bit about growing up in Eastern Europe?


I was born in a small rural community in the Republic of Moldova. My parents are two extremely hard working individuals, who live on a beautiful self-sufficient farm. When I was five years old I witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union. My country was in chaos and one of the poorest countries in the ex-Soviet bloc, but my family had fresh delicious food for every meal. I never grew up feeling as though we lacked anything. I learned to milk cows and goats by the time I was 7. We had a big vegetable garden and a beautiful apple orchard behind our house. My mother baked all of our bread in a big clay oven once a week. My main responsibility during summer breaks was feeding the chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, piglets, calves, etc. We never bought our food at the grocery store, but instead preferred our own homegrown, homemade meat, borsht, salad, fruit, cheese, kefir, and bread.


What prompted you to move to Eugene, Oregon?


I fell in love with the classics at a very young age. The world of Homer, Virgil, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Dostoevsky fascinated me. Foreign languages both spoken and dead were my favorite subjects in school. At the age of 18 my English teacher (a Peace Corps volunteer) sent me a link to Gutenberg College. It was the perfect fit. I would study the classics for 4 years and learn German and ancient Greek in the process. My application to Gutenberg was accepted, so I gave up my free ride to the State University of Moldova and booked a flight to Eugene.


What got you interested in holistic nutrition?


Diana found Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” to be an accessible and eye-opening book that was pivotal in her choice to pursue nutrition.

4 years of learning how to think critically and analyze difficult texts was an outstanding preparation for the controversial world of nutritional science. After spending a few years in the U.S. I started to feel a bit alienated from my food. Fortunately, I picked up a copy of Michel Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, an accessible and eye-opening book that was pivotal in my choice to pursue nutrition and a gateway to the wide world of alternative nutritional literature. Our culture tells us that there is little to be done about things like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia, allergies, etc, except to take more and more medication. But increasingly more thought is being put into the colossal role of nutrition in health. I want to be a part of this new field of medicine so that I could help people take their health and the health of their children into their own hands, instead of being pushed around by pharmaceutical corporations and the like.


Do you see a connection between your interest in holistic nutrition and your cooking?


For me the two are intimately connected. My meals have become not only tastier, but more nutritious; I am more aware of the health benefits – and detriments – of the food I put on the table. One of the coolest connections is being able to cook meals tailored to nourish specific needs and occasions, like a sick person, an athlete, an expecting mother, a Celiac, a diabetic, etc.


What is your favorite dish to cook?


I enjoy cooking veggies. It’s fun to discover the optimal way to prepare them in order to get the highest nutritional value. My husband cooks the meat and I cook the plants.


What is your favorite dish to eat?


I love a good roasted whole chicken with gravy and mashed cauliflower.


What one food do you most hate?


I religiously avoid anything containing soy in its various forms, which is certainly not just one food! I’ll make an exception for a traditionally fermented dish, like Miso.


Has living in Eugene impacted your views on nutrition and cooking?


Yes, absolutely. Eugene has so many possibilities compared to most places in the country. There are a great ton of veggie and meat CSA’s. The local boutique grocery stores, like Kiva, Capella, and Sundance, have wonderful options for organic and wholesome products. The farmer’s markets are outstanding here, abundant with fresh, local, and organic produce. Even before I was interested in nutrition I loved walking to the downtown market and chatting with the hard-working, local famers. People here tend to be more interested in things like alternative approaches to health. I feel blessed to live in a place where that kind of thing is welcome.


One more question. If you could tell everyone in the world to do one thing to better their nutrition right now, what would that be?


Try to shop only on the periphery of the grocery store. Avoid the aisles. They mostly contain highly processed food.

And now for a quick and simple recipe…

Honey Sweetened Banana Cream Pie


  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tsp real vanilla
  • 7 honey-sweetened graham crackers
  • 4 tbsp butter
  1. Process graham crackers with butter; compress onto baking dish to form crust.
  2. Blend bananas with 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla, and eggs; poor into pan, on top of crust.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 min at 375*; when done, refrigerate until cold throughout.
  4. Whip 2 cups heavy cream with 1tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup honey; pour on top of banana layer; sprinkle with cinnamon.

Pofta Buna!