No matter how healthy we keep ourselves, sometimes taking an antibiotic is unavoidable – whether it’s an unexpected case of tonsillitis, a tooth infection, or even as a pre-surgery prophylactic.
The truth is that antibiotics are powerful and life-saving medicines, however what many don’t know is that they can disrupt the balance of our good gut bacteria and consequently impact other areas of our overall health.
From stomach upsets like diarrhoea or other gastrointestinal disturbances, to higher incidence of yeast overgrowth and inflammation, antibiotics aren’t without their consequences.
The good news is that when you do need to take a course of antibiotics there are steps you can take to help support your body and minimize any undesirable health effects, including taking probiotics with antibiotics.
Why Gut Health is So Important
Protect your gut, and you will be well on the way to optimal wellness, enhanced vitality and happiness. Many health experts suggest this, and for an excellent reason.
Science tells us that the bacteria in our body outnumber our body's cells 10 to 1 and that most of these bacteria are in your gut. Your gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms which live in your digestive system and enhances the optimal functioning of your digestion, metabolism, immunity and brain (1).
So naturally having the right bacteria in there is extremely important, and is why many health experts around the world have been suggesting the importance of protecting your gut for centuries.
What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are antibacterial medications used to treat infection caused by bacteria.
While the use of antibiotics is required in some situations, they are not to be underestimated or overused (2).Overuse or incorrect use of antibiotics may cause resistance to them making them ineffective at eliminating disease-causing bacteria in the future (3).
Despite this, every year there are 29 million antibiotic scripts filled in Australia.
How Antibiotics May Disrupt Your Gut Balance
Your gut is a complete microsystem of good and bad bacteria and antibiotics may change the ecology of your entire gut microbiome (4).
Antibiotics not only eliminate the harmful infectious bacteria, but may also disrupt the good bacteria, affecting the microbial diversity in your gut for up to a year after taking them.
How To Protect Your Gut Microbiome
While you are taking, or have taken a course of antibiotics, it is important to protect your gut by restoring the good bacteria, removing any overgrowth of yeast and re-establishing optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients that may have been depleted by antibiotics. This is when probiotics become your new best friend (6).
Probiotic combinations that contain the strains Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM®) and Bifidobacterium lactis (Bi-07) have been shown to assist with managing the levels of normal healthy flora which have been disrupted by antibiotics.
It’s also important to start taking probiotics as soon as you begin your course of antibiotics. Just remember to separate the dose of your probiotic from the antibiotics by at least two hours.
Always check with your healthcare professional before taking new supplements.