Are Heavy Metals Driving Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is one of the major global health challenges we face today. Although antibiotics come with a host of side effects – there are certain cases where using antibiotics may save your life. That is unless the pathogens in your body are resistant to these medications. 

The overuse of antibiotics, in general, is a perfect example of how humans have turned away from their natural immunity and instead relied on outside forces to bring them back into balance. With antibiotic resistance on the rise, it’s time for us to look at our environment and our immunity and begin to look to more natural and effective methods for enhancing our bodies’ defenses. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What antibiotic resistance is
  • Why antibiotic resistance is on the rise
  • How heavy metals in the environment (and your body) are driving resistance 
  • Steps you can take to enhance your natural immunity and support the relief of heavy metal toxicity

What Is Antibiotic Resistance?

Many people assume that antibiotic resistance happens when the human body becomes resistant to antibiotics. Although this may seem like a logical theory, it’s actually the pathogens themselves, not your body, that become resistant. 

In other words, it’s the bacteria themselves that change in response to antibiotic medications. This has become increasingly concerning as the rate of antibiotic resistance continues to grow, which means that these pathogens are becoming smarter and stronger as we try to fight them off with medications that are no longer effective. Just a handful of bacteria that are increasing in resistance include pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and foodborne diseases like e.coli[1].

So, what’s driving antibiotic resistance in the first place? 

Although there seem to be several mechanisms involved, it is the general misuse (and overuse) of antibiotics that’s creating resistant bacteria. While antibiotic resistance is actually a natural process that happens in nature, the unprecedented rate at which doctors have been prescribing antibiotics is accelerating the issue significantly.

To make matters worse, it appears that our environmental pollution may be adding to the problem of antibiotic resistance, strengthening these pathogens’ infectious capabilities while weakening our own immune systems.

The Link Between Heavy Metals And Antibiotic Resistance

Heavy metals are everywhere in our environment. From the soil in which our food is grown to the water we drink, our personal care products, and even our medications. It’s nearly impossible to avoid toxic metals today, and unfortunately, the industries that are driving heavy metal pollution seem to be in no rush to turn things around.

The detriments of heavy metals cannot be understated; these toxic compounds can impact almost every system in your body, including the neurological system, immunity, cardiovascular health, and more[2][3][4]. 

Furthermore, with the growing concern around antibiotic resistance, researchers are also finding that there may be more to the story than the upsurge of antibiotic use. It appears that in ecosystems where there is heavy metal contamination, bacteria show increased resistance to antibiotics.

The mechanism behind this connection comes from a phenomenon known as “co-selection.” It appears that as bacteria select genes for heavy metal resistance, they select genes for antibiotic resistance simultaneously due to the genetic linkage between the genes.

Put another way, as pathogens come into contact with heavy metals in the environment, they turn on their defenses against the metals, which subsequently also triggers defenses against antibiotics[5][6].

Keep in mind that while most of the research showing the connection between heavy metals and antibiotic resistance has been done in animal husbandry and environmental conditions, it’s important to note that it is the pathogens within these systems that are antibiotic-resistant – not you or I. This means that when a pathogen is already antibiotic-resistant and enters your body, you could take as many antibiotics as you want, and it could be to no avail[7].

But what happens if your body already has high levels of heavy metals?

What we already know is that high levels of heavy metals reduce immune cell function and action, which can increase the prevalence of infections. Specifically, heavy metals decrease the quality of your microbiome, which could further increase antibiotic resistance, as healthy microbes are necessary to maintain the bacterial balance in your body.

This only adds fuel to the fire when you come into contact with pathogens – whether they’re antibiotic-resistant or not[8]. 

How To Support Your Immunity By Managing Your Toxic Load

Researchers suggest that the best way to mitigate antibiotic resistance includes[8]:

  • Reduction in widespread antibiotic use
  • Maintenance of a healthy microbiome for immunity
  • Reduction in heavy metal exposure 

As mentioned, it’s nearly impossible to avoid heavy metals altogether as they are everywhere in our environment these days. With that being said, there are precautions you can take to minimize your exposure as much as possible.

For example, many natural personal care brands are making efforts to avoid metals in their products. Choosing brands that are all-natural with ingredients that have been tested is a great place to start. Keep in mind that heavy metals can be found in everything from lipstick to sunscreen to lotions and hair dyes. 

Conventionally grown produce is another common culprit for heavy metal toxicity. Although research shows that heavy metals may be present in all produce (organic included), conventionally grown produce tends to hold the highest levels due to the presence of metals in commonly used pesticides. Therefore, to reduce metal exposure in your diet, always choose organically grown foods that are free of pesticides and herbicides. 

Our water supply is another sneaky source of metals. Whether the metals come from runoff, pollution, or waste being dumped into our oceans, it’s hard to find any natural water sources these days that don’t require at least some level of filtration. This is why having a high-quality water filter at home is an absolute must[9]. 

Beyond the measures you can take to avoid metals in the environment, you can also support your body in removing metal toxicity that may already be present. When you consume metals (either through water, food, air, or topically in personal care products), they tend to lodge deep into your cells and tissues. This can make heavy metal detox a must to move these compounds out of your body. 

Luckily there are ways to support your body’s natural detoxification processes, which will promote the release and elimination of heavy metals from your body. The key is to incorporate specific research-backed nutrients into your diet that have been shown to enhance your body’s natural detox pathways. 

That’s exactly what I had in mind when I created Daily Detox. This blend of nutrients is meant to support your body’s natural processes for removing toxic compounds and is safe enough to be used every day. What’s more, the nutrients in Daily Detox also support the health of your microbiome and general immunity. 

Takeaway

 The overuse of antibiotics has backfired on us in a big way. Thankfully, medical professionals are becoming more aware of antibiotic resistance and more resistant to overprescribing them. 

To do your part, keep in mind that antibiotics should only be used as a last resort. Of course, there are instances where antibiotics can save lives, but more often than not, these medications are unnecessary and even detrimental to your long-term health. Instead, maintain the health of your immune system by filling your body with nutrient-dense and immune-boosting foods. To further mitigate the potential threat of antibiotic resistance, watch out for heavy metals in your environment. If you suspect that you may already have some heavy metal toxicity, try a supplement like Daily Detox, which can gently enhance your body’s natural detox systems on a daily basis, giving you the support you need to minimize heavy metal toxicity.

*These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. Daily Detox is not designed to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not intended to replace any medication or healing modality prescribed by your medical doctor. 

Click Here for References+

  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance
  2. Engwa, G. Azeh, et al. “Mechanism and health effects of heavy metal toxicity in humans.” Poisoning in the modern world-new tricks for an old dog 10 (2019).
  3. Marth, E. G. O. N., et al. “The effect of heavy metals on the immune system at low concentrations.” International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health 14.4 (2001): 375-386.
  4. Yang, Ai-Min, et al. “Environmental heavy metals and cardiovascular diseases: Status and future direction.” Chronic diseases and translational medicine 6.4 (2020): 251-259.
  5. Seiler, Claudia, and Thomas Ulrich Berendonk. “Heavy metal driven co-selection of antibiotic resistance in soil and water bodies impacted by agriculture and aquaculture.” Frontiers in microbiology 3 (2012): 399.
  6. Yu, Zhongyi, et al. “Antimicrobial resistance and its association with tolerance to heavy metals in agriculture production.” Food microbiology 64 (2017): 23-32.
  7. Nguyen, Christine C., et al. “Association between heavy metals and antibiotic-resistant human pathogens in environmental reservoirs: a review.” Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering 13.3 (2019): 1-17.
  8. Eggers, Shoshannah, Nasia Safdar, and Kristen Malecki. “Heavy metal exposure and nasal Staphylococcus aureus colonization: analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).” Environmental Health 17.1 (2018): 1-10.
  9. Rehman, Kanwal, et al. “Prevalence of exposure of heavy metals and their impact on health consequences.” Journal of cellular biochemistry 119.1 (2018): 157-184.

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Wendy Myers, FDN-P, is a detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist, NES Bioenergetic Practitioner, and founder of Myersdetox.com. She is the #1 bestselling author of Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue . Additionally, Wendy is the host of The Heavy Metals Summit, the Myers Detox Podcast, and the Supercharged Podcast. Passionate about the importance of detox to live a long and healthy life, she created the revolutionary Myers Detox Protocol , and Mitochondria Detox kit after working with thousands of clients, as well as a range of supplements to help you detox from everyday living and maintain a healthy lifestyle!