Antibiotics And Gut Health : The Effects Of Antibiotics On Your Digestion
- Antibiotics not only act on bacteria that cause infections but also affect the resident microbiota
- Resident microbia play crucial roles in digestion, immunity, metabolism, and mental health. They maintain the integrity of the gut mucosa and protect us from pathogens.
- Supplementing with Butyrate during and after antibiotic treatment creates an environment where good bacteria can flourish at which time probiotics can be introduced*
- Not all probiotics are created equal. A gut test like Viome can help identify optimal strains for your body
When youre feeling ill and looking to get better, how often do you take the time to ask your doctor about the side effects of the medication they prescribed? And if you do ask, youre most likely looking at understanding the big side effects of the medication, you know, the ones you hear listed in rapid succession at the end of drug commercials. The truth is, the one medication that we rely on, that has saved millions of lives since its discovery by Alexander Fleming in 1929, can devastate the one part of your body you dont often think about, the gut. Were talking about antibiotics.
So What Are Prebiotics
Prebiotics are compounds that help beneficial gut microorganisms grow and survive.
Prebiotic foods contain complex carbohydrates that cant be digested and dietary fibres that resist digestive processes in the stomach and small intestine.
They pass undigested into the large bowel where they are fermented by the healthy good bacteria.
To be called a prebiotic, they need to undergo the processes above, and be shown in clinical trials to selectively improve the microorganism composition in the gut.
Not all dietary fibres are prebiotic. Common ones include complex carbohydrates called fructo-oligosaccharides, inulin and resistant starch.
You can find foods at the supermarket with added prebiotics, but non-digestible carbohydrates occur naturally in many everyday foods, including:
grains: barley, rye bread, rye crackers, pasta, gnocchi, couscous, wheat bran, wheat bread, oats
legumes: chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, chicory, fennel bulb, garlic, green peas, leek, onion, shallots, spring onion, snow peas, sweetcorn, savoy cabbage
fruit: nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, watermelon, rambutan, grapefruit, pomegranate, dates, figs
nuts: cashews, pistachios.
Additional sources of resistant starch include under-ripe bananas, cooked and cooled rice, cornflour, cooked and cooled potatoes.
For babies, breast milk is naturally rich in oligosaccharides.
How To Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics
Science Based Amy Myers, MD
Amy Myers, M.D. is a functional medicine physician, trained and certified by The Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Myers earned her Doctor of Medicine at the LSU Health Science Center, and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dr. Myers retired from her functional medicine clinic, Austin UltraHealth, where she served thousands of patients, to empower those who were failed by conventional medicine. Shes a 2x New York Times bestselling author, and the founder and CEO of the health & lifestyle e-commerce brand, Amy Myers MD®.
If youve ever taken a round of antibiotics to fight an infection, you are not alone! While antibiotics are sometimes unavoidable, nearly 50% of the antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary and do more harm than good.1
Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed medication in the United States. I recommend that no one use antibiotics unless absolutely necessary because they suppress your immune system and disrupt the balance between the good and bad bacteria.
I understand that taking antibiotics may sometimes be unavoidable. Restoring your gut health after a cycle of antibiotics is critical to maintain and achieve optimal health!
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How Is Honey Used On Wounds
People have used honey for thousands of years for wound healing. While we now have other very effective wound-healing options, honey may still be good for healing certain wounds.
Honey has antibacterial properties and a unique pH balance that promotes oxygen and healing compounds to a wound.
Before you reach into your cabinet, know that wound-care professionals use medical-grade honey for healing chronic wounds and other injuries.
Read on for more information on the right and wrong times to use honey for wound healing.
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Restoring Your Gut Flora After Taking Antibiotics And Other Medications
If left alone after a course of antibiotics, the body may not recover in the time we think it should take. Long-term use of an antibiotic will possibly develop erosion of the glycocalyx that normally coats the microvilli. Loss of the brush border is attendant, reducing secretory IgA. The glycocalyx may be compromised by the drug or by the original infection. Either way, the outcome is the same dismal circumstance, challenging commensal bacteria to repopulate their community. In such instances, the probiotic yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, can pave the way for Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to re-establish their realm. True, Saccharomyces is not a commensal entity, but its a potent promoter of glycocalyx production and enhanced IgA secretion. The right diet can do wonders in hastening the restoration process, being sure to minimize sugars and refined grains, like white bread and white rice. Not all probiotics are accepted by all microbiomes. There are myriad bacterial strains occupying ones gut, so it is no surprise that all dont get along with each other. Resolution may be expected in six weeks to six months.
Can Other Medications Affect Gut Health
Bacterial infections are not the only reason we swallow pills. Believe it or not, over-the-counter medicines are still drugs. NSAIDS are widely used to control pain, but may induce adverse events in various body systems, most occurring in the GI tracts. NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen, shut off pro-inflammatory chemicals called cyclo-oxygenases . The job of COX-1 is to protect gastric mucus layers and to maintain normal kidney function. COX-2 synthesizes prostaglandins that produce pain and inflammation. NSAIDS can shut down COX-1 as well as COX-2 and allow gastric distress to follow, including the stomach bleeds that affect some aspirin users.
Reducing levels of native microbes jeopardizes their ability to prevent invasion by harmful ones, such as C. diff and some salmonella. And if carbohydrates are not adequately broken down by indigenous strains, too much water may be absorbed and cause diarrhea, a lack of butyrate, and a misstep in the metabolism of bile acids. Additionally, tight junctions suffer adversity and allow undigested food particles to invade the bloodstream.
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Extended Data Fig 2 Mics For 20 Species/27 Strains On 35 Antimicrobials
Heat map depicts MICs for each drug-strain pair inµg/ml. Heat map color gradient is adjusted to the MICs concentration range tested on the respective MIC test strip. Black depicts sensitivity and light grey resistance. Mean values across two biological replicates are shown . The species/strains from the screen are shown in black, additional strains to investigate intraspecies and intragenus variation within the Bacteroides genus are shown in blue. The grey background indicates that several strains per species were tested. Of note, C. difficile is particularly resistant to all tested macrolides and clindamycin .
The Composition Of Gut Bacteria Almost Recovers After Antibiotics
- University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
- The use of antibiotics has long been linked to deprivation of gut bacteria. Now, a new study shows that the composition and function of gut bacteria can recover after antibiotic treatment in healthy people. But after six months, the gut still lack nine common beneficial bacterial species.
The trillions of bacteria in the human gut affect our health in multiple ways including effects on immune functions and metabolism. A rich and diverse gut microbiota is considered to promote health providing the human host with many competences to prevent chronic diseases. In contrast, poor diversity of the gut ecosystem is a characteristic feature of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, asthma and gut inflammatory disorders.
Due the general bacterial-killing nature of antibiotics, it has been speculated that repetitive use of antibiotics deprives people of a rich gut bacterial environment and through this lead to adverse health effects.
Now, an international team of researchers led from the University of Copenhagen and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen report when 3 antibiotics were given to young healthy men for 4 days it caused an almost complete eradication of gut bacteria, followed by a gradual recovery of most bacterial species over a period of six months.
Is the missing beneficial gut microbes in the Western world due to over usage of antibiotics?
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How Can I Help My Gut Bacteria To Recover After Antibiotics
Theres no definitive way to help your gut bacteria recover after antibiotics. The reality is that even though the science on the microbiome is advancing fast, theres still so much we dont know.
Theres something we know for sure: a healthy microbiome is all about diversity, and antibiotics definitely dont encourage that. You can take charge of your gut health and learn ways to improve the diversity of your microbiome on our Gut Health Program.
For now, lets take a look at what research can tell us about how to increase that diversity, whether thats after antibiotics or not.
Extended Data Fig 3 Mic Dataset Validates Antibiotic Sensitivity Profiles From The Screen And Is Consistent With Publicly Available Mics
a. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was performed to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of the screen using the MIC dataset. Results from the screen were considered as validated if MICs were below/above the 20µM antibiotic concentration that was tested in the screen . N is the number of antibiotics that we tested both in the screen and determined MICs for AUROC is the area under the characteristic ROC. TN denotes true negatives, FP false positives, TP true positives, FN false negatives. b. Comparison including Spearman correlation coefficients of the MICs from this study to MICs from the ChEMBL and EUCAST databases. Panels in the upper row: comparison between all MICs that are shared between the two indicated datasets. Panels in the lower row: comparison of the 69 MICs that are shared across all three datasets. Despite experimental differences, our MICs correlate well with available EUCAST/ ChEMBL data. c. Number of the sum of new and already available MICs per drug according to antibiotic class and prevalence/virulence of the bacterial species. The new dataset expands MICs across the board and specifically fills the knowledge gap on non-pathogenic species.
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Chronic Issues From Short
Its good to keep in mind that many people dont get into the trap of using antibiotics long-term.
However, the second issue in Western medicine regarding antibiotic use is that theres typically no rebuild plan prescribed to repair the damage caused by antibiotics.
And unfortunately, there can also be some long-term effects lingering from antibiotics after just one prescriptionespecially in those who dont actively work to maintain a healthy gut.
This is a topic thats only been researched more recently, but there are a few key findings so far.
Check out the 3 major long-term effects that just one round of antibiotics can have on the body.
The Bottom Line On Antibiotics And Gut Health
Antibiotics, as helpful as they are to quell a bacterial assault , interact with our cells, particularly immune cells, in ways that we really dont understand. The biochemical changes matter when the outcome is uncertain and the possibility of spawning antibiotic resistance is real. To help resurrect cells that have been denigrated by their rescuer, pre- and probiotics have the means.
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Recovery Of The Gut Microbiome
After an antibiotic course, recovery of the gut microbiome can take some time. In general, after short-term antibiotic use , studies have observed it can take at least one to two months for most bacterial groups to recover to pre-antibiotic levels2,3,1316. However, these studies have also shown that even after two to four years, some bacterial groups do not recover completely and antibacterial resistance genes can also persist at increased levels for at least one to two years following antibiotic use13,14,16,17. Therefore, even a short course of antibiotics can have long-term effects on the gut microbiome.
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What Probiotics For Antibiotic Side Effects
Typically, it will take the body time to balance the microbiome to healthy, diverse bacteria levels. In fact, research shows that it takes about 6 months to recover from the damage done by antibiotics. And even then, the body might not even be back to its pre-antibiotic state.
Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast is particularly good at preventing and alleviating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and travellers diarrhea. Its also a friend to your gut bacteria that supports good bacteria and prevents inflammation.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic bacterium best known for being in yoghurt is also great for your gut. Studies show that its good at treating and preventing infections, and reducing the digestive side effects of antibiotics.
Other bacteria that help recover from antibiotic use include:
- L. casei
Antibiotics And Gut Health
For starters, lets get into some of the ways that antibiotics can affect the stability of your gut health.
Antibiotics work in a very simple way: theyre created to kill bacteria.
The problem is, we havent yet produced ways to kill only certain bacteria.
So, if youre taking an antibiotic for a specific bacterial infection, youre essentially setting off a nuclear bomb in your gut against all of the bacteria in there.
That includes all the good stuff you may have spent years trying to cultivate through probiotics and fermented foods.
To make matters worse, if youre having a bad reaction to your antibiotic, youll probably know it because the side effects are not pretty. Most arent dangerous, but others, like a severe allergic reaction will require a trip to the emergency room.
Possible negative drug interactions and common side effects of antibiotics include:
- Altered gut flora balance This could possibly result in female reproductive flora imbalance, such as yeast infections
Antibiotics are also known to cause gastrointestinal issues such as:
and those are just the short-term effects caused by antibiotics.
If antibiotics can cause such immediate negative results, what are the longer term ramifications once the prescription is over?
And what happens if you have to repeat your antibiotic use over and over again?
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Strengths And Limitations Of This Study
This review addresses the antibiotic-induced changes in gut microbiota for the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in UK primary care for the infections most frequently seen in general practice: respiratory tract and urinary tract infections.
The study used a complete and inclusive search strategy complemented by manually scanning reference lists of identified articles for further relevant publications.
We searched three databases, all years up to May 2020, for any study type, with clearly defined criteria for study inclusion.
It was not feasible to combine results in a meta-analysis as the majority of the studies were small, poorly randomised and with limited follow-up. There was considerable heterogeneity in methodology, which makes them prone to biases and other confounding factors.
This limits our understanding of the long-term changes induced by commonly prescribed antibiotics, the ability to modify antibiotic treatment to each situation and to make recommendations to clinicians.
Antibiotics Side Effects From Long
Unfortunately, there are two major problems with antibiotic usage in the Western medical model today.
The first is that there is an over-prescription problem. Healthcare professionals are constantly prescribing many types of antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin, and others to millions of people. They prescribe them even for things like the common cold, without thought to look for the root cause that keeps creating repeated infections.
Antibiotic treatment is necessary in treating certain bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections , pneumonia, strep throat, and other bodily infections caused by dirty wounds.
However, antibiotics are antibacterial/antimicrobial medication which means they are only effective against serious bacterial infections and diseases. They dont work against infectious diseases like the cold or flu. These are viral infections, and taking an antibiotic to fight these conditions will actually only make it harder for your body to fight them as they are also killing the good bacteria needed to be healthy.
Antibiotics are also ineffective against fungal infections such as yeast infections and can actually cause them in certain cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention its also not good medical advice to take antibiotics for most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some inner ear infections.
And theres more bad news
Some serious side effects of prolonged antibiotic use include:
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