Why Bacterial Balance Matters
The gut helps your body carry out essential functions. And thats putting it lightly! Its key when it comes to nutrient absorption and energy production after all, most of our nutrients come directly from our diet!
Your gut can even affect your mood and brain health. Add to that, the fact that 70% of your immune system lives in the GI tract, and you know its an important part of immune health, as well.
To put it simply, your gut is the gateway to almost every part of your body, so keeping it healthy is a HUGE priority. And one of the best ways to support a healthy gut is by promoting bacteria balance.
Can Probiotics And Prebiotics Restore Your Gut After Antibiotics
by Clare Collins, The Conversation
Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria. But they can also destroy the good bacteria in your gut. For some people, this results in an upset stomach and diarrhea.
One UK review of the research looked at changes in gut bacteria after antibiotics commonly prescribed for respiratory and urinary tract infections found that after treatment, the numbers and diversity in bacteria types rapidly declines.
It also found some types of “bad” microorganisms increased while some “good” ones decreased.
For most people, once antibiotic treatment was stopped, the gut bacteria recover to some degree. But other studies suggest some antibiotics can have long-lasting effects on the balance of microorganisms.
It’s important to use antibiotics only when needed, and definitely not for viral infections, because antibiotics can’t kill viruses such as the common cold or COVID-19.
So what should you eat after a course of antibiotics? You might have heard of probiotics and prebiotics, but what are they, and what evidence is there to show they’re beneficial?
Probiotics contain “good gut bacteria”
Probiotics are foods, typically yogurts and yogurt drinks, that contain “good gut bacteria”: live microorganisms that can recolonise the gut or improve your gut health.
To be called a probiotic, the dose of microorganisms needs to be sufficient to help restore the “good” bacteria, by elbowing out the “bad bacteria.”
What does the science say about probiotics?
What Is Gut Flora
You have a world of microorganisms living in your digestive system. This collection of microorganisms is your gut flora, also known as the gut microbiotaa complex ecosystem that consists of approximately 300 to 500 bacterial species. Thats nearly 10 times the number of cells in the human body.
Our knowledge of the interaction between gut health and overall health is still in its early stages. We do know that colonies of beneficial bacteria help you digest and absorb your food, fight off germs that make you sick and even make a large portion of your serotonin, which helps keep your moods level.
Science is continuing to discover ways that gut bacteria are directly linked to your health. We know that its normal to have balanced populations of beneficial gut bacteria and bad bacteria, and a healthy gut is able to keep the bad guys in check. But researchers are just now beginning to understand what happens when other factorslike antibiotics, diet and stresstilt the scales in the wrong direction.
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How Do Antibiotics Damage Your Gut Health
Antibiotics are prescribed to nearly half the UK population every year for common conditions and in hospitals to treat and prevent serious infections. Here are the most common applications for antibiotics:
|urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections
|skin and wound infections
Unfortunately, antibiotics dont stop at bad bacteria and they dont treat viral infections, which are often nearly impossible to distinguish from bacterial ones. Instead, antibiotics kill good bacteria too, and thats bad because good bacteria are often helping your body fight the infection.
Many people also experience mild-to-severe antibiotic side effects, especially if their immune health is already compromised, like hospital patients. More seriously, antibiotics can leave room for extremely harmful bacteria such as E.coli, C.diff and Salmonella infections that may be so severe that hospitalization is required.
The Unseen Side Effects Of Antibiotics On Your Gut
There are an estimated 7,000 bacteria strains that live in your gut. Researchers have found that after only a few days of antibiotic treatment, there is an almost complete eradication of gut bacteria.
While your gut bacteria can start to recover on their own, those same researchers found that:
The balance between different strains of bacteria in your gut never fully recovers
Some beneficial bacteria never return
New, harmful bacteria take advantage of the gut imbalance and take up residence in your gut
This can lead to antibiotic side effects like:
Some antibiotics are worse than others when it comes to the impact on your beneficial bacteria. However, a review of 1,000 commonly prescribed drugs found that the general results were the same across the board: your gut is collateral damage whenever youre prescribed antibiotics.
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Important Tips For Supporting General Health Whilst On Antibiotics
- Eat fermented or prebioticfoods. These can help rebalance the gut microbiome and optimise gut health after a course of antibiotics.
- Avoid refined sugary foods, as these feed the harmful bacteria and yeasts which often overgrow due to antibiotic use.
- Avoid alcohol, even if not contraindicated with your course of antibiotics. Alcohol can also disrupt the gut microbiome and negatively impact immune function, which may hinder your bodys efforts to fight infection.
- Ensure you complete your course of antibiotics. Unpleasant side effects can make it difficult to continue taking antibiotics but failing to complete the course can increase the risk of antibiotic resistance.
- Eat a healthy diet. Dont let the antibiotics do all the work include a selection of immune-boosting foods containing vitamin C and other antioxidants, including citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables.
Will Any Probiotic Work
If you are taking a probiotic other than the two Lactobacillus strains mentioned above, it is best to wait 1 to 2 hours after taking your antibiotics before taking the probiotic supplement. Ideally, any alternative probiotic strains taken should also have research demonstrating their efficacy during antibiotic therapy. If you are taking a probiotic from a different supplier, it is best to ask that supplier directly about the length of time to leave between taking their product and taking your antibiotics. As a general rule, many companies tend to recommend waiting 1 or 2 hours after taking antibiotics before taking their probiotics. After this length of time, sufficient levels of the beneficial bacteria are able to reach the gut alive. It is generally recommended to take probiotics every day during your course of antibiotics this way you can replenish your friendly bacteria on a daily basis, before your digestive system is upset by a longstanding microbial imbalance.
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After Taking Antibiotics: Intestinal Cleansing Through Dietary Changes
If you are looking for a healthy and balanced diet to restore your stomach flora after antibiotics, you should follow a few simple recommendations. Your intestines will thank you for a bowel-friendly diet both during and after taking antibiotics. For instance, this includes refraining from the consumption of alcoholic drinks. Additionally, you should also remove sugar and other some forms of carbohydrates from your diet. Instead, eat foods that are rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Flea seed, linseed, and Chia seeds support regular bowel movements as they swell in the bowels.
Add Fermented Foods To Your Diet
If you want to learn how to restore healthy gut flora, it all starts with fermentation. Fermented foods are naturally high in beneficial bacteria, and eating them helps to repopulate your gut after antibiotics.
As noted above, antibiotic usage can also cause an increase in harmful bacteria in your digestive tract. If you want to learn how to get rid of bad bacteria in your gut, studies have shown that fermented foods like yoghurt actually help to eliminate harmful bacteria while increasing beneficial bacteria.
Other fermented foods to try include:
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How To Replenish Good Bacteria After Antibiotics
Congratulations, youve finished your antibiotics! But.now what? Should you stop taking probiotics?
Definitely not! Now that the antibiotic cycle is finished and no longer killing off bacteria every day, your body can really get to work rebalancing and replenishing the microbiome. So, support your intestines, immune system, and full-body health by repopulating that healthy bacteria!
- If you havent already, add probiotics to your daily diet. They introduce healthy bacteria that were killed during antibiotic treatment. After a pulse of antibiotics, we recommend choosing a high-potency probiotic first , then dropping down to a maintenance level .
- Probiotics support the growth of brand new, healthy bacteria, fungi, and yeasts which help out your digestive system.
But, beyond taking probiotic supplements, there are some other things you can do to replenish the good bacteria in your gut after antibiotics:
- Eat fermented foods! Theyre filled with healthy bacteria to add to your gut. Go for yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, etc.
- Bacteria need fuel, too! To promote healthy bacteria growth in your gut, feed good bacteria some gooooood food. They need prebiotic fiber for fuel.
- If you have a sweet tooth, its a good idea to cut back on your sugar intake to help replenish good bacteria after antibiotics. Refined sugar can wreak havoc on your gut flora, so its best to avoid it when youre trying to rebalance. The same applies to empty carbs, soft drinks, juices, and alcohol.
What Are The Best Ways To Restore Gut Health
Its no secret that gut health is a non-negotiable to achieving overall health. Maintaining levels of good bacteria in the gut microbiome can be done through a number of ways, including diet and the use of probiotics.
It starts with your diet. Good bacteria feast on fibers and nutrients in plant foods these are prebiotics and they turn these substances into nutrients that nourish your gut lining and keep your gut biome balanced.
Alternatively, probiotic supplements contain billions of bacteria from one or several bacteria strains that in specific, studied doses have benefits for your health. Here are some of the most famous and well-researched probiotic bacteria and yeasts that you will find in supplements:
What Atlas Biomed says: the microbiome scientists at Atlas highlight that the benefits of probiotics may be temporary for some people, and only last as long as they are taking supplements.
How To Restore Healthy Gut Flora During And After Antibiotic Treatment
Probiotics that can help restore your gut flora during and after antibiotic treatment are Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus lactis.
To help restore my healthy gut after the hospital, I ate foods with probiotics and prebiotics every day. Typically, it will take the body time to balance the microbiome back to healthy, diverse bacteria levels. In fact, research shows that it takes about 6 months to recover from the damage done by antibiotics.
Is It Ever A Question Of Probiotics Or Antibiotics
There are some conditions where those afflicted may prefer trying natural interventions first. Acne is a very common skin issue where antibiotics are often prescribed as a treatment by a general practitioner or dermatologist. In a 2011 literature review, it was determined that there is sufficient supportive evidence to suggest that gut microbes, and the health of the gastrointestinal tract itself, may be contributing factors in acne vulgaris3. You may like to read our FAQ about probiotics and skin health. However, this decision should always be made in line with a doctors consent.
How Long To Restore Gut Flora After Antibiotics
If you want a quick fix to restore your gut health after antibiotics, I don’t want to disappoint you, but it takes time! This is why I recommend avoiding antibiotics in the first place unless they are necessary. But if you want to heal your gut after antibiotics, allow up to 6 months for your gut to fully recover.
Don’t underestimate the power of healthy lifestyle choices, though! If you truly focus on gut healing by eating a fiber-rich whole foods diet and probiotics, supporting it with the right supplements, managing stress and partaking in regular exercise, you can quicken that recovery time and diversify your gut microbiome fast.
Remember that if you want to replenish your good bacteria after antibiotics, lifestyle choices and additional supplementation are key! Your gut CAN be restored it just takes some time, patience, and dedication! YOU GOT THIS!
Keeping A Healthy System
Antibiotics are an important tool for doctors. They can help prevent the really bad bacteria from taking over your body and they have saved countless lives. In the process, your digestive system will get hammered. A diverse and well-formulated probiotic with the right strains can go a long way to helping you recover.
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What Is The Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome lives in your large intestine, and its home to the most diverse bacteria in your entire body. Thats because, unlike any other part of the body, your digestive tract is an open ecosystem, which is more exposed to its external environment than any other part of the body.
What does this mean? Well, the gut microbiome can be shaped by things like gender, age, geographic and socio-economic conditions, diet, and health conditions. It also means that every persons gut microbiome will be different, and affected by different factors.
How To Restore Your Gut Microbiome After Taking Antibiotics
Antibiotics are an important medication that have revolutionized how we treat bacterial infections. While antibiotics can be life-saving, they can also dramatically alter your bodys gut microbiome.
The good news is that it is possible to restore your gut microbiome after taking antibiotics. Below, well review what the gut microbiome is. Well also review steps you can take to restore the gut microbiome after treatment with antibiotics.
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Whats The Best Probiotic To Take After Antibiotics
There are two main bacteria strains that have been studied for effectiveness in reducing digestive distress after antibiotics. They are Lactobacilli and Saccharomyces. And while there are many bacteria strains that are beneficial for healthy digestion, these two are key when it comes to rebalancing your microbiome after antibiotics.
What Should I Eat To Restore Good Bacteria After A Course Of Antibiotics
Here are some foods that can help restore gut flora after antibiotics:
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms, most commonly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii . Taking probiotics helps the gut microbiome return to a healthy state after it has been disturbed. Probiotics also have a positive influence on the immune system of the body. The timing of your probiotic intake is important – doctors advise that you take probiotics at least 2 hours before your antibiotic dose.
Prebiotic foods support beneficial microbes in the human gut . High-fiber foods are prebiotics. A diet rich in fiber can therefore help restore gut flora after antibiotics by promoting the growth of good bacteria. Eating high-fiber foods like whole grains, lentils, fruits, and vegetables , nuts and seeds not only stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut but also slows the growth of harmful bacteria. Besides natural prebiotic foods, prebiotics are also available as dietary supplements.
Fermented foods like yogurt, cheese, cider, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi contain beneficial bacteria that can help restore a healthy gut after antibiotic use. Some fermented foods like yogurts are supplemented with probiotics and can be especially helpful in restoring the gut microbiota and reducing antibiotic side effects.
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How To Prevent Damage If You Must Take Antibiotics
Sometimes antibiotics are unavoidable, especially for surgeries or wounds. If you do have to take antibiotics for any reason, you can do so without wiping out your gut flora and experiencing harmful side effects.
You can take a probiotic while youâre taking the antibiotics. This will help mitigate the damage from the antibiotic. Take the GI Distress Relief that contains sacc b while youâre on the antibiotics. Itâs important to take the probiotics two hours away from the antibiotic, or itâll kill the probiotics .
Once you are finished with the antibiotic, take one round of the Elixia, the 500 billion CFU formula that is designed to help your gut heal after antibiotics. You can also do the GI Revive for extra support. You may then need an additional probiotic for a month or so. Try this one, or check out my guide on how to determine which probiotic is right for you.
Follow the microbiome boosting diet explained in the section above .
It is possible to both heal the gut and prevent damage from antibiotics should you have to take them. It takes time and some care. Most importantly, preserve your good gut health by preventing damage prior to antibiotics in the first place.
The Type Of Antibiotic
If you go to your doctor with an infection, youre very likely to come away with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Thats because unless your doctor takes a sample and sends it to a lab to be cultured, they dont know what type of bacteria is causing your infection. Prescribing a broad-spectrum antibiotic makes it more likely to work on your infection, but your gut bacteria will take a harder blow.
When researchers gave mice either a broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic, or a combination of three antibiotics , both antibiotic treatments caused significant changes in the gut microbial community.
The mice given the broad-spectrum antibiotic didnt recover their normal diversity, but the other mice given the amoxicillin-containing combination mostlybut not completelyreturned to pre-treatment levels .
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