A study done by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) showed that nearly 4 out of every 5 Americans are prescribed an antibiotic each year.
More than likely, either you or someone you know has previously taken an antibiotic. And if so, you know how strong they are and how well they work! What you (or they) may not know is what you should do after taking an antibiotic.
If you’ve ever wondered if there are supplements and/or foods that are helpful to your body after you’ve been on an antibiotic, keep reading! I’m going to provide you with 5 simple steps to follow after taking an antibiotic.
The Effectiveness of Antibiotics
The University of California, Berkeley, writes on their webpage Understanding Evolution:
“Only a few decades ago, antibiotics were considered to be wonder drugs because they worked so well to cure deadly diseases. Ironically, though, many antibiotics have become less effective, precisely because they have worked so well and have been used so often.”
Antibiotics are still effective today when they are used appropriately to treat bacterial infections. Examples include strep throat, urinary tract infections and whooping cough (pertussis).
However, as with many medications, there are side effects associated with the use of antibiotics.
The Side Effects of Antibiotics
In order to understand the side effects of antibiotics, we first have to understand their nature. Antibiotics are used successfully to treat bacterial infections. And more specifically, antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause these bacterial infections.
However, antibiotics are so effective in killing bacteria that they tend to not be selective in the bacteria they kill.
It is well known that the human body is largely made up of bacteria. (Specifically, good bacteria). While there are 100 trillion cells in the human body, there is ten times that amount of bacteria. That’s right – for every cell in your body, there are ten bacteria! More than anything else, we are microbial.
The excessive use of antibiotics can be harmful to the good bacteria in our body and as a result, our overall health.
These good bacteria are most concentrated in the gut – they make up our microbiome.
Related Post: Good Gut Bacteria: Why Do We Need It?
The bacteria in our gut are beneficial for a number of reasons; specifically because they:
- Help us digest food
- Protect us against gastrointestinal tract disorders
- Aid in the production of some vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin K, thiamine and riboflavin
More than anything else, the bacteria in our gut help to strengthen our immune system. This is because 70-80% of the immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tract (gut), the same place as these beneficial bacteria.
Related Post: Good Digestion & Why It Matters
When we kill the beneficial bacteria in our gut, the “bad guys” are allowed to take over.
Have you ever heard of someone having a yeast infection after being on an antibiotic? This is because the antibiotic was so effective in killing bacteria that it killed both the good and bad bacteria. Without the good bacteria, yeast begins to grow and flourish.
What Should You Do After an Antibiotic?
As with all of the bacteria in the body, we strive for a healthy ratio of 80% beneficial bacteria and 20% harmful bacteria in the gut. A few of the bad guys are okay – they keep our immune system in check.
However, after taking an antibiotic, this healthy ratio will almost always be altered.
So what should you do after an antibiotic to re-balance the gut?
Here is a list of several things that you can and should do to re-balance your gut after taking an antibiotic. If you follow these steps you will be well on your way to healing your gut and having a healthy immune system.
- Take a Probiotic Supplement – A supplement that contains live bacteria (the good kind).
- Eat Fermented Foods – Foods that contain live, healthy bacteria. Examples include:
- Eat High-Fiber Foods – Did you know your body cannot break-down and digest fiber? Only the good bacteria in your gut can digest fiber. For that reason, high-fiber foods are known for feeding (and supporting) the good bacteria in our gut. You should have high-fiber foods in your diet all the time, but specifically after taking an antibiotic. Examples include:
- Eat Prebiotic Foods – Prebiotic foods are foods that stimulate the growth of the healthy bacteria in the gut. While some prebiotic foods are also high in fiber, not all of them are. Some examples include:
- Garlic & onions
- Flax seeds
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Avoid High Sugar Foods – Just like high-fiber foods feed the good bacteria in our gut, high-sugar foods feed the bad bacteria – Avoid sugar! Examples include:
- Breakfast pastries & donuts
- Cookies, cake & candy bars
- Ice cream
- Chocolate syrup
- Simple carbohydrates, such as bagels, waffles & white bread
- Sodas, sweet tea & other sugary beverages, including store-bought fruit juice
- Most store-bought condiments, including salad dressing
- Even spaghetti sauce!
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