Antibiotics and Probiotics
Have you used any antibiotics in the last couple of months (or even years?). Quite a big chance you did. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat a bacterial infection, and they are usually very effective in doing that. But now the big question, did your doctor also prescribe you probiotics to take with your antibiotics? The odds are a lot lower they actually did that! Here’s why you should.
Why You Should Use Probiotics With Antibiotics
Whenever you use antibiotics, diarrhea may never be far away. Especially children and the elderly have to cope with antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Having to use antibiotics is no fun, but this will make it even worse. Luckily, it’s easy to prevent.
If you suffer from diarrhea without using antibiotics, try one of the solutions listed in my article about diarrhea
What Do The Antibiotics Do?
If you have a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be necessary to help you defeat the harmful bacteria. Antibiotics have saved many lives, and it’s a great thing they exist. Unfortunately, in the last couple of decades, antibiotics use has expanded and nowadays we consume it a lot in our daily foods.
This has lead to certain bacteria being more resistant to antibiotics, and harder to defeat. Leaving the pharmaceutical industry with no option than to come up with different types of antibiotics.
In short, antibiotics kill bacteria. The bad ones. And the good ones. And this is where problems can begin to arise. Because your own healthy gut bacteria will also be wiped out by the antibiotics.
Your gut bacteria live together in harmony with you. They help strengthen your immune system, create nutrients when they break down fiber for you and have a direct connection to your brain through the gut-brain axis. You need them to have a healthy body, and antibiotics disrupt the harmony they live in.
When the bacteria get disrupted, changes in the gut can start to occur. In some cases, the disruption of the gut bacteria can still be found 1 year after the use of the antibiotics. There are even signs that the disruption and/or decrease of the gut bacteria can play a role in the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and food allergies later in life.
Also, when your own bacteria are being wiped away, other (maybe even harmful) bacteria can take their place. This can cause diarrhea and gut problems.
Enough reason not to take the use of antibiotics lightly! And to support your gut when you do have to take them.
How to Limit the Disruption of Gut Bacteria by Antibiotics
I would always advise you to follow your doctor’s orders when it comes to antibiotic use. Not taking antibiotics when you need to, could result in serious health issues. Nonetheless, there are ways to protect your gut when you’re taking the antibiotics! This is where the probiotics show up.
Probiotics are live bacteria that you can use through supplementation. These bacteria go through your digestive tract and arrive in your intestines while being alive. These bacteria can then prevent the bad bacteria from settling in your gut and can help keep a healthy environment in your intestine.
How to Choose a Probiotic Supplement?
To find a good probiotic to supplement your gut with, I would recommend reading my article ‘How to Choose a Probiotic Supplement?’. It is important to choose a product with the right dosage and the right bacteria strains. And all of this can be found on the label.
Choosing the ‘wrong’ product will have no effect on your gut, and can be a waste of your money.
Once you’ve found the right probiotic for you, make sure to use it daily. Keep as much time as possible between your antibiotic and probiotic. It is wise, for example, to take your probiotic in the evening, if you’re using the antibiotic in the morning. Keep using the probiotic for 2 more weeks, after you’ve finished the antibiotic.
Probiotics can also be found naturally in some products. But often the amount that is present in these products is lower than the amount you can get through supplementation.
Naturally occurring probiotics are found in fermented products. Using fermented products is always a healthy food choice, but even more so if you’re on antibiotics!
Good and healthy sources of probiotics are: (the links go to my recipes)
– Al types of fermented foods: sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi
– Yogurt. Make sure there are bacteria mentioned on the package!
Having a daily portion of such products can help you replenish healthy bacteria in your gut.
Have you used any antibiotics recently and added the probiotics? Let me know about your experience!
Hi there, I’m Manon.
In my daily life I work as a registered dietitian in the Netherlands with a special interest in gut health.
During my workday I get loads of questions about healthy food, recipes and lifestyle to make it a little easier to get healthy. On Positive Gut I collect my best recommendations, tips and recipes to make your healthy lifestyle a little easier!