Antibiotics are something I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, they are a lifesaving drug that takes care of infections that would normally kill us. Something as simple as a cut could turn into a life threatening infection if it were not for antibiotics. On the other hand, antibiotics have been seriously over prescribed in recent times. The CDC estimates around 30% of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. This has resulted in antibacterial resistance, allergic reactions, increased health care costs, and disruption of the gut biome. The bacteria in our gut is intimately linked with every part of our body. Our energy production, mood, and risk of chronic disease are all directly linked with the health of our gut.
When we take a round of antibiotics it is not only working to kill of possible infection. It is immediately creating a disruption in our gut biome by killing off all bacteria, both good and bad. When the balance of good to bad bacteria is thrown off it frequently results in the overgrowth of organisms that should not be there in large quantities. A common reaction is the overgrowth of a strain of yeast called Candida. This can result in leaky gut by messing with the lining in our intestine. I go into the affects of leaky gut at length here. Luckily there are some safeguard we can take to keep up the health of our gut during and after taking a round of antibiotics.
Full fat, fermented dairy is a food that should be in your post-antibiotic protocol. The research is quite clear that you can’t go wrong with eating some good quality fermented dairy to help with antibiotic associated gastrointestinal distress.
- Yogurt has been shown to significantly shorten the duration of antibiotic associated diarrhea. Make sure to get the full fat kind with no added sugar. If it is too tart you can add things like berries, stevia, and cinnamon to sweeten it up. Stonyfield, Choboni, and Faggi all make a good full fat yogurt with plenty of beneficial bacteria.
- Kefir has also been shown to have some proficiency at repopulating the gut. Patients have a much better tolerance to triple antibiotics when consuming kefir.
This category includes foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and any pickled vegetable. Sauerkraut has high amounts of the beneficial bacteria L. plantarum. L. planetarium has been shown to drastically reduce the chance of antibiotic induced diarrhea. Buy a good brand with minimal ingredients beyond spices and cabbage, or make your own.
Kimchi shows potential as a potent probiotic. Bacillus subtilis P223 (good bacteria) found in kimchi show a resistance to being killed off by antibiotics. This could help in repopulating the gut.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
The science on probiotics can be a little misleading. The problem is that many brands don’t contain the specific strains of bacteria the gut needs, and now it is thought that taking a probiotic only gives the system a temporary dose of bacteria. In other words, the bacteria may not take root and “seed”. While it may not be the cure to an unhealthy gut long-term, taking high doses of specific strains of bacteria involved in the gut post-antibiotics have been shown to help in repopulating the gut biome with beneficial bacteria.
S boulardii and lactobacilli have been shown to help with reducing the likelihood of antibiotic related gastrointestinal distress. Look for a probiotic with these strains in it.
Prebiotics are fermentable fibers and resistant starches that feed our population of healthy bacteria. Good sources of resistant starch are cooked and cooled potatoes and green bananas (throw them in a smoothie). For fermentable fibers just get a large range of leafy green vegetables and fruits in your diet. Dark chocolate is also a great source of polyphenols and fermentable fiber.
Thats it for this week everyone. Thanks for following along, and make sure to sign up for our newsletter to get a free copy of our ebook, 3 Pillars to Lifelong Health. Have a great week,
Elliot Steele is a Primal Health Coach based in Chelan WA. He strives to empower those looking to regain their health after a lifetime of misinformed practices. This is the essence of Steele Back Your Health, to truly learn how to be healthy with sustainable habits. Check out the coaching and blog page for more info!