How Antibiotics Disrupt Intestinal Flora
Published September 26, 2015
The Harvard Medical School reports antibiotic side effects last for 42 days after the last dose.  You’re probably familiar with many of these side effects: diarrhea, irritable bowels, bloating, and maybe even painful constipation. What you don’t see are aggressive and dangerous bacteria, like Clostridium difficile, E. coli, H. pylori, and a fungus like Candida establishing themselves in your gut. But when you take antibiotics, nasty bugs like these can do just that. The Harvard Medical School reports antibiotic side effects lasts for 42 days after the last dose.
Antibiotics: The Cure with a Catch
When you get a prescription for an antibiotic, you feel good that you’re on the path to recovery. But, there’s a catch, and it has to do with how antibiotics work. About 70% of your immune response takes place in your digestive tract. So when you take an antibiotic, it goes through your system and kills off all the invading bacteria. The thing is, it also kills off your native bacteria, the ones needed to keep digestion smooth, prevent constipation, and protect your body from aggressive and invading bacteria.
As the Harvard Medical School reports, it takes 6 weeks for your body to recover from an antibiotic. During this time, your gut is a vacant neighborhood just waiting for someone to move in. While friendly bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria can replenish the gut during this time, you’re at a much higher risk for more illness and unwanted bacteria colonizing your intestinal tract. I’m certainly not suggesting you avoid antibiotics, but I am suggesting your take steps for preventing disruption of your intestinal flora at all times.
Here’s What to Do
For the best and fastest recovery while taking antibiotics, you need to get plenty of probiotics through food or a probiotic supplement. Before you start with the probiotics, you first need to cut out refined and processed sugars. Disease-causing bacteria and fungi, like Candida, gobble up these sugars and reproduce much faster.
Two options is adding a probiotic supplement or probiotic-rich foods into your day. Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are loaded with probiotics. These will help restore the necessary bacteria in your intestinal tract to restore proper digestion and keep out the nasty bacteria that can lead to illness. That brings us to the last step: take prebiotics, like inulin and oligosaccharides found in fruits, vegetables, and plants. These types of dietary fiber feed the bacteria you’re getting with your probiotics. This speeds the recovery of the health-promoting bacteria of your digestive tract.
A 2014 study reported subjects taking prebiotics restored bifidobacterium levels faster than those taking placebo after all subjects had taken Amoxicillin.  A combination of prebiotics and probiotics taken during antibiotic therapy restores essential levels of important gut bacteria, prevents nasty ones from taking over your system, and encourages faster healing.
- Pallav K1, Dowd SE2, Villafuerte J1, et al. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial. Gut Microbes. 2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67. doi: 10.4161/gmic.29558.
- Ladirat SE1, Schoterman MH2, Rahaoui H3, et al. Exploring the effects of galacto-oligosaccharides on the gut microbiota of healthy adults receiving amoxicillin treatment. Br J Nutr. 2014 Aug 28;112(4):536-46. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514001135.
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