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Bacterial Infections

Bacteria are single-celled organisms that vary in type and function in the human body and our environment. Our digestive tract is teeming with hundreds of varieties of beneficial bacteria that aid digestion and immunity, however, pathogenic bacteria can lead to infections, especially in those with poor-functioning immune systems.

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Bacterial infections can occur from the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and can cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections, cellulitis, and many other forms, that can cause harm and even death in some individuals. The two primary factors that can reduce the risk of getting a bacterial infection or having complications from them include:

  • Reduce exposure risk
  • Maintain a highly functioning and strong immune system
  • Have a favorable balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract

A Nutritarian eating style is designed for the most optimal intake of immune system-boosting nutrients from natural plant food. The high intake of produce also supports the growth of favorable bacteria and excludes pathogenic bacteria. Providing all the critical nutrients needed for a strong immune system through a Nutritarian eating style, you will be able to reduce risk and severity of all infections, including bacterial infections.


Action Plan


  • A Nutritarian diet provides the immune system with vital micronutrients, many phytochemicals from natural plant foods have immune-boosting or antibacterial properties. Learn more about how healthful eating enhances immune defenses in Super Immunity.
  • Having a healthy immune system helps to guard against bacterial infections. If a person with a healthy immune system does develop a bacterial infection, the body generally clears the infection more quickly and efficiently.
  • In addition to the quantity and variety of micronutrients, a Nutritarian diet provides plentiful prebiotic fiber and resistant starch, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in the body, thus decreasing the risk of bacterial infections further..
  • If antibiotics are needed, use probiotics for 2-3 months after completing the course to reinoculate your gut with beneficial flora.

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Ask The Doctor

The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)


My five year old daughter never had trouble with UTIs until about six months ago. Out of the blue she started complaining about it hurting when she went potty. Within two hours, she had a high fever, was urinating frequently (several times an hour), and would scream and writhe while on the toilet. I took her to the doctor the next day and she tested positive for bacteria in her urine and was given amoxicillin. After three days she was no better, and her doctor prescribed a different, stronger antibiotic. It finally disappeared after two weeks. But since then she has had round after round of UTIs, followed by a yeast infection (from the antibiotics, no doubt) and another UTI. I don’t want to give her antibiotics anymore, but when she screams and cries all day long from the pain I don’t know what else can "fix it." I know there must be an underlying problem, but we don’t know what it is or how to treat it.


Pure cranberry juice or cranberry extract daily, as well as D-mannose may help prevent or even treat a UTI early on. Since she is getting frequent UTIs, of course, you’ll need to evaluate whether it is a hygiene issue (her not wiping correctly), which is the most common cause at her age, or if there is any anatomical issues with her urinary tract that might be contributing to her heightened risk of infection. If this had not been evaluated already, she needs to get those tests done, starting with a renal ultrasound. Make sure that she is taking probiotics for at least a few months because of her recent antibiotic use.


I have been getting urinary tract infections off and on for the past year. I am currently on an antibiotic for 10 days. Would either of the following supplements help if I took them on a daily basis for urinary tract health and prevention: Cran-actin and/or d-mannose?


If you are having frequent urinary tract infections, you need to wash your bottom with soap and water after every bowel movement and after sexual activity, too. That is more important than using the supplements. Second, 10 days of antibiotics are not needed for a UTI, usually three to six days is sufficient, and 10 days could increase risk to your digestive tract. If you are not eating a high nutrient, Nutritarian diet, do not delay.

D-mannose and cranberry juice tabs twice daily can help prevent future infection, and some people even respond to them effectively when they have an infection (which requires increased dosages and frequency of use), but if not responding within 36 hours, begin antibiotics. Take them continually, two tabs of each every two hours, while awake.

If taking on a daily basis just use one tab of each twice a day.


I have a urinary tract infection confirmed by a home test eight days ago. I have been taking D-Mannose. It has improved but not resolved. Is it ok to keep using the D-Mannose, or do I need to take the antibiotics?


In addition to eating perfectly and D-mannose, taking a few cranberry tablets five times a day could also be useful. To answer your question, the severity of the infection and the degree of improvement to this point has to be considered. If you have no fever and it has improved significantly, perhaps a urine culture that measures the severity at this point would be helpful.


Ticks are new in my area (Quebec Canada), and three people have been officially diagnosed with Lyme disease so far in my village. I do not doubt it is a real, existing, complex disease, but it probably is over-diagnosed and especially "over-worried".

Is there any definite test to tell if one actually has Lyme disease? Besides the obvious (clothing, checking for bites and rashes), are there any specific strategies to protect oneself preventively? If one has Lyme disease would antibiotic therapy still be recommended if you follow a Nutritarian diet?


If you really contact Lyme from a tick that has been in contact for 36 hours or more, and develop the typical ECM rash too, then you do not need a blood test and do need to treat it with antibiotics. Lyme diagnosed with a constellation of symptoms and strong, confirmatory blood work certainly needs antibiotics, but what I see very often here in Lyme country is people who do not have Lyme, or who once had it and it was adequately treated, being prescribed antibiotics for symptoms that are not Lyme and with blood tests that are positive from a disreputable lab (while negative from standard labs). These individuals are then kept on these very toxic drugs for months and sometimes years. Antibiotics and other toxic medications can suppress symptoms and have anti-inflammatory effects making a person feel better while taking them, but feeling better on antibiotic does not mean Lyme is present.


I have battled with ongoing ailments the last few months including sore joints and muscles, achy neck, headaches, and eye pain.

Blood work showed positive results for Lyme Disease- Interp (IGM) and reactive for 23 KD (IGM) Band and 41 KD (IGM) Band. My bilirubin also measured high at 1.9mg/Dl. My doctor wants to send me to an infectious disease specialists to "cure" this Lyme disease. Can you provide any insight or guidance (nutritionally, supplements, etc.)?

As a side note, I was recently treated for two months with Zithromax, then Cipro, then Biaxin for a sinus infection.


That does not mean you have Lyme disease. A Western Blot is confirmatory with at least 4 bands, not just two. You have to be careful here because there are a large percentage of people who are told they have Lyme as a result of inconclusive tests that do not really have Lyme. They then undergo unnecessary and sometimes damaging treatments with antibiotics. If it turns out you really do or did have Lyme disease, it would have been likely that taking the other antibiotics you did for the last two months would have "cured" it anyway. My advice is to fix your diet to perfection, take probiotics and the right supplements, and then follow the Lyme titer in a month to see if it is improving/stable or worsening. Do not be in a rush to take more antibiotics.


I live in South Carolina and there are deer everywhere. I noticed a bulls-eye rash on my arm that is about 1.5 inches across and has a red center, then regular skin, and then a red ring. My sister-in-law says the ring is diagnostic and that I need to start antibiotics. How do you recommend I proceed?


The Lyme disease rash has certain identifying characteristics. A bulls-eye alone on a small rash does not identify Lyme. The main identifying feature is the large rich-colored oval with edges of the rash growing outward each day, especially as the ring is fading. Plus, you have no history of a tick bite, or other suggestive symptoms. You should not self-diagnose, but see a physician if the rash is not improving or expanding in size.


Here are the indicators that I might have been exposed to Lyme disease:

  1.  I was in the woods 48 hours ago.
  2.  I removed a tick after coming out of the woods. At that location, a small red mark appeared.
  3.  In a DIFFERENT location on my body, 48 hours later, I see a larger red mark (not a bulls-eye; 3/4 inches long).

Lyme disease is rare.
Lyme disease can be fully cured with early treatment.
There is no reliable test at this stage of infection.
The complications of Lyme disease can be severe.

Should I take an antibiotic now?


You cannot get a Lyme-related rash in a different location within 48 hours of a tick bite, so, that other rash was not Lyme related. The tick has to stay embedded and sucking your blood for at least 36 hours and usually 48 hours to transmit Lyme anyway, and that did not happen.

So, there is not a shred of evidence you have Lyme disease.