Defend against deadly CRE superbugs with this gut secret

Picture this: an out-of-control, untreatable superbug, the CRE superbug, runs amok, killing up to half of the people it infects.

It certainly sounds like the plot of Hollywood's latest apocalyptic thriller, but you don't have to visit your local movie theater to see how this story unfolds. Instead, head to your local doctor's office, nursing home, or hospital...because, unfortunately, this is no movie.

No, this seemingly scripted-for-film story is only too real...and make no mistake, it poses a serious threat to you, and everyone else you care about.

The ugly bug at the center of this plot is carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE for short. And while CRE superbug may be the latest drug-resistant bug to join the line up, it's shaping up to be the deadliest superbug of the lot.

Our first clue to just how bad this nasty bug really is lies in the name itself. Carbapenems are what is known in medical circles as "last resort" antibiotics. These are the drugs that docs pull out when all the other antibiotics have failed. The one class of drugs they could always rely on in a pinch.

The only trouble is, with widespread antibiotic overuse and misuse there are a lot of drug-resistant bugs out there. As a result docs have been relying on these so called "last resort" drugs more and more often. And now we're paying the deadly price with a truly out-of-control superbug that kills 1 in 2 infected patients, and that we have no way of stopping.

CRE superbug spreading like wildfire

So far, CRE superbug has reared its ugly head in 42 states. But that's just the official numbers from the CDC. This bug is spreading like wildfire, and chances are by the time you're reading this letter it has spread to all fifty states and beyond.

And I only wish that was the worst of the news I had to share. It gets nastier.

Like most bullies, CRE superbug apparently feels safer in a crowd, so the bug "recruits" other bacteria, literally transferring its antibiotic resistance to other relatively >harmless bugs like common E. coli. And this one "little" trick turns an incredibly bad situation into a potential nightmare.

The only bright spot, if you can call it that with a straight face, is that so far CRE is sticking mostly to long-term hospital settings, with 18 percent of cases being found in long-term acute-care facilities, and one in 25 acute-care facilities reporting at least one CRE infection in 2012.

But don't start celebrating yet, because it's really only a matter of time before this bug follows the path of other superbugs like MRSA, escaping into the general community.

Restore good bacteria to beat bad bugs

Now you may be wondering how we got here. Well, it all goes back to that antibiotic overuse and misuse that I mentioned earlier.

Antibiotics really are wonder drugs... or they were. When penicillin first hit the market in the early 1940's it was like a miracle. It, and the many antibiotics that followed, have saved countless lives.

But too much of a good thing can quickly turn into something bad. It wasn't long before doctors were handing out prescriptions for antibiotics whether they were needed or not. And soon patients were demanding them for every cut, cough, and sniffle...despite the fact that they're perfectly useless against viruses like those that cause the common cold.

When we misuse antibiotics (taking them when we don't need them, not taking them as prescribed, or taking them for too long), we're essentially putting a normal process on fast-forward. With so many of us killing off the good bacteria in our bellies right along with the bad, we open the door for sinister strains of bacteria to gain a foothold, and antibiotic-resistant superbugs are born.

Mainstream medicine has hit a brick wall when it comes to superbugs like CRE. They're in defense mode, simply trying to keep the bug contained with too-little-too-late measures like frequent hand-washing.

But, while the situation IS dire it's certainly not hopeless. And, as any football fan can tell you, the best defense is always a good offense.

Shoring up your immune system is the best way to avoid becoming a victim of the CRE superbug, or any other antibiotic-resistant bug. And to do this you need to start in the same place that those antibiotics did their the gut.

Probiotics can restore the good bacteria in your belly, where they can help guard against superbugs like C-diff, MRSA, and CRE. In fact, I like to tell people that probiotics just aren't optional anymore. If you aren't on one already, you probably should be.

And vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, garlic, and green tea can all help you stay healthy so you can avoid hospitals and other settings where these nasty bugs thrive.