How to Combat Klebsiella-
Know Your Enemy
Klebsiella P. is a type of gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria that belongs to the same family as other infamous pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. It got its name from a 19th century microbiologist living in Germany named Edwin Klebs.
Because of its protective polysaccharide capsule, multi layers of surrounding fibers which protect it against invaders, as well as its ability to mutate, Klebsiella is one of the most common types of microbes that can develop resistance to antibiotics. Therefore, it is commonly linked to causing deadly infections that occur and often spread within communities of immune-compromised people, such as in a hospital or nursing home. To make matters worse, the number of effective antibiotics against Klebsiella P. is declining all the time.
This type of bacteria can affect many different body sites and cause different types of infections, depending on where it happens to grow. For example, when it infects the lungs, it causes pneumonia. When it infects the blood, it causes a person to become septic (septicaemia). When it infects the heart, it is called Endocarditis. When it infects the small intestines, it can cause SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). It can also infect wounds or surgery sites, the bladder, the brain (meningitis), and the colon, which can lead to Ankylosing Spondylitis and/or Crohns Disease(3). Klebsiella P. infections occur worldwide.
Because of its ability to wreck havok in so many different ways, mutate and adapt to survive all known antibiotics, some have labeled Klebsiella as a “Superbug”.
It’s important to note that Klebsiella P. normally inhabit most people’s gut. It’s almost impossible to avoid Klebsiella completely since they exist all around us in our environment. Normally this is not a problem, however, as long as a healthy balance of good bacteria exist to keep the Klebsiella population from growing out of control.
Some risk factors that make you even more susceptible to Klebsiella infection include:
Alcoholism- The mortality rate for alcoholics who contract an antibiotic resistant infection of Klebsiealla P. are close to 100%.
Low Stomach Acid- Taking medications that reduce your stomach acid, or even just the natural decline of stomach acid that occurs with age, both make a person more vulnerable to infection.
Antibiotics- The use of antibiotics kills off much of your healthy bacteria that are there to keep pathogens in balance and prevent them from overgrowing.
The Use of Medications That Suppress Your Immune System- Drugs such as steroids, Biologics, TNF or IL Inhibitors all suppress the immune system and allow pathogens such as Klebsiella to take over without the immune system to restrain it.
Age- The elderly as well as infants are at higher risk because their immune system is either not fully developed yet, or is compromised.
Preexisting Health Problems – Whether it be cancer, metabolic disorders (such as Diabetes) and/or organ dysfunction of any kind (such as COPD or renal failure), Your body is a well calibrated machine, designed to keep everything in balance (homeostasis). When there is a dysfunction of some system or organ of the body, a kink in the machine so to speak, the marvelous ecosystem found within is compromised. This gives pathogens an opportunity to exploit.
Invasive Devices- Use of devices such as IV catheters, urinary catheters, or respiratory support equipment can increase your likelihood of infection.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Your gut is a constant battle ground between bacteria, viruses, and fungi, all competing for resources. Regularly taking probiotics, to support and feed those helpful strains of bacteria, while avoiding feeding the pathogenic bacteria, namely Klebsiella in this case, is important to maintain a healthy gut ecosystem.
How can you do this? We have already learned what Klebsiella thrive on- dietary starch. Klebsiella can also feed (or ferment) on lactose, inulin, and carageenan. By eliminating these elements from your diet, you eliminate the food supply of Klebsiella. At the same time, look for a food source for your other more helpful bacteria that will encourage their growth. Specifically, you want a food source that will feed them and NOT feed Klebsiella. Does such a thing exist? Yes. The magic word here is “fiber”, not just any types of fibers, because Klebsiella can indeed munch down on some fibers, such as inulin. We need to look for very particular types of safe fibers that selectively feed the good bacteria. Beneficial bacteria favor fermentable fibers, including those found in vegetables.
"Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for changing the microbiota,"
Justin Sonnenburg – Biologist, Stanford University
* Maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora with broad spectrum probiotics, fermented foods, and the addition of plenty of fiber to your diet.
* Get adequate sleep for immune support.
* Avoid drinking chlorinated tap water, as chlorine can destroy gut flora. Instead, drink filtered water.
* Wash your hands frequently. This includes before preparing and eating food. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If you do sneeze, cough or blow your nose, wash your hands. Also wash your hands after going to the bathroom, visiting a doctor’s office, or going shopping and touching a lot of items. Klebsiella is a bacteria commonly found in your environment.
* Klebsiella is commonly found in the soil, as well as in the feces of animals that might be on the ground. If you ever find yourself barefoot outside, be sure to wash your feet afterwards. For similar reasons, leave your shoes by the door to avoid tracking in bacteria all over your home. This is especially important if you have a baby or toddler who crawls or plays on the floor.
* Purses are also carriers of bacteria, being placed on floors everywhere. For that reason, leave your purse by the front door. Do not ever place them on your kitchen counter top, kitchen table, or other surfaces where you eat or prepare food.
* Avoid antibiotics, which kill off your flora, as well as steroids, which suppress your immune system and allow pathogens to flourish.
* Studies that GINGER, combined with honey, inhibits the growth of antibiotic resistant Klebsiella P. This is especially exciting news since ginger also is considered a prebiotic, a fiber which feeds healthy bacteria. So ginger feeds the bacteria we want to support, and keeps Klebsiella at bay at the same time. That’s a win-win. As if that were not enough, ginger also is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
* Certain probiotics have been proven to inhibit Klebsiella. One study showed that the strain Bacillus Coagulan can prevent or reduce colonies of bacteria such as Klebsiella. Similarly, Lactobacillus reuteri also was shown to be effective against Klebsiella. You can read the study below:
* Resveratrol is a molecule that has shown in studies to inhibit the growth of Klebsiella. Plant extracts from Africa which contain Resveratrol were studied for their effectiveness in controlling and inhibiting Klebsiella, as the microbe identified as triggering Ankylosing Spondylitis.
(Cock IE1, Van Vuuren SF. The potential of selected South African plants with anti-Klebsiella activity for the treatment and prevention of ankylosing spondylitis. Inflammopharmacology. 2015 Feb;23(1):21-35. doi: 10.1007/s10787-014-0222-z. Epub 2014 Nov 21.)
* Sulfasalazine is a medication sometimes prescribed to treat Ankylosing Spondylitis. A study confirmed that patients with active AS had higher levels of antibodies against Klebsiella and E. coli than control groups and that Sulfasalazine significantly reduced those antibodies against Klebsiella and E coli.
(Mäki-Ikola O 1 , Lehtinen K, Nissilä M, Granfors K. IgM, IgA and IgG class serum antibodies against Klebsiella
pneumoniae and Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharides in patients
with ankylosing spondylitis. Br J Rheumatol. 1994 Nov;33(11):1025-9)
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