We all get sick, and sometimes, our only option is antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics can easily wreck havoc on the microbiota in the gut. The microbiota are responsible for balancing many of the body’s essential functions, like digesting food, fighting disease, facilitating vitamin, mineral, and amino-acid absorption, and regulating energy. In order to help you prepare for your gut’s reaction to antibiotics, this short blog post will discuss some harmful effects of antibiotics on the intestinal system, and why many people choose to use probiotics during and after taking antibiotics.
Importance of Microbiota
With recent advances in technology, scientists, medical professionals, and researchers are making huge advances on our understanding of the human microbiome. They have found that there are over 100 trillion microbes from over 1000 different species. Of these, about 7000 strains live in the gut. Different microbes form different communities, and they live in different parts of the gut. They work together to help in many ways, for example, with host nutrition and host immunity.
Harmful Effects of Antibiotics on Microbiota
Researchers have learned that antibiotics can interfere with our natural ability to resist disease and infection, influence our immune system, and impact our ability to process food. This makes us more susceptible to lifestyle illnesses, like obesity, malnutrition, and diabetes.
Evidence also shows that the increase in antibiotic-resistant strains is dramatic, and has resulted in thousands of deaths worldwide. With the end of antibiotics on the horizon comes a need for something much stronger, healthier, and sustainable in the long term.
If you have taken antibiotics, your gut may be struggling to return to homeostasis. Antibiotics can disrupt the natural order of your gut for an extended period of time, which may influence your nutrient and vitamin absorption, and your defense against pathogens. This overall weakness in the body, though you might be feeling better, could easily leave you more susceptible to illness in the near future.
Probiotics and Benefits
One of the best ways to rebalance your gut’s microbiome is by reintroducing good bacteria. Probiotics are the good bacteria that are helpful for repopulating the bacteria in your gut. Since antibiotics can kill probiotics, it is a good idea to revamp your probiotics after you take the antibiotics.
You can find probiotics in pill form, but you can also find them in foods and drinks: apple cider vinegar (with the mother), sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, cultured butter and cheese, and even traditional, true sourdough bread.
These foods can help with both diarrhea and constipation, ease inflammation in the gut and in other parts of the body, improve your energy levels, clear your skin and even your mind, and strengthen your immune system. Many people choose to take probiotics at the same time or after taking antibiotics because it helps the body better fight the illness. The body needs good bacteria, and it is important to replenish your supply especially when taking antibiotics.
The best way to repopulate your gut is by choosing the more natural options, rather than a pill. You can easily find fermented foods in the grocery store, but you can also make your own with a little salt and vegetables. To help you get started, we have included a simple and easily adaptable recipe.
Simple DIY Probiotic-Rich Recipe
- 1 broccoli crown
- 1 onion
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 cups water
- 5-6 peppercorns
1. Dissolve salt in water and allow to cool.
2. Chop vegetables into bite-size pieces and smash garlic with flat part of knife blade.
4. Add all ingredients to a mason jar, and pour just enough water to cover the vegetables.
5. Use a weight to keep the vegetables submerged, and loosely cover with a lid.
6. Allow to ferment in a dark, cool place for 5-7 days, then store in the fridge.
Sometimes, it just seems absolutely necessary to take antibiotics. If, however, you are presented with a choice, it is best to ditch the antibiotics and allow your body to rest and recover on its own. Antibiotics do wreck havoc on your system, and it can take years (or even a lifetime) for the gut to function normally again. Probiotics can help the healing that occurs after taking antibiotics, and they are also delicious and healthy food that can improve your health, and maybe even prevent illness in the future.