POST ANTIBIOTIC GUT RESTORATION
Most of us will have to take a round of antibiotics at some point in our life. If you haven't yet -- good for you! I recently did a post on kids and antibiotics for ear infections - and had the great question: "But what do we do if our kid had antibiotics? How do I help restore their gut?" This is a fabulous question -- and one important for adults, too. Our kids haven't had to take antibiotics, so I am not an expert on how to recover their little microbiomes, but I am committed to learning more on that this year. But I can tell you what I do know for now, as it relates to the gut's microbiome, and recovery after antibiotics.
In our guts, the good bacteria should balance out the bad bacteria that can negatively impact your health. When you take a dose of antibiotics -- a large portion of bacteria in your entire system is wiped out, including the good guys. After that, the good and bad bacteria both rebuild over time -- and hopefully come back balanced. But it does take some time, and they don’t always colonize in balance. What can happen is that a few bad strains can take over and/or you gut will not be restored to it's original microbiome before the antibiotics.
And we have to keep in mind that gut health is SO very important! Our gut is now often referred to as our second brain. A healthy gut is imperative for overall health.
The good news is there are many actions you can take to support and recover your gut microbiome!
Supplement with probiotics: To keep the bad gut flora from winning, take probiotics while you’re taking antibiotics. Friendly bacteria don’t have to colonize in the gut to help you through a course of antibiotics. If you time it right, bacteria that are just passing through will keep the bad bugs in check. Even though the next dose will wipe out a lot of them, some will survive, and if the good guys hold their own, you’ll be in better shape when they build back up.
Timing and type are crucial: Make sure to take your probiotics at least two hours away from antibiotic doses in either direction. Also, watch for histamine-producing strains, like Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, if you’re sensitive. Instead, opt for Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifdocaterium lactis, and Bifidobacterium longum. These strains lower histamine levels, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion.
Remove or minimize sugar when you are on antibiotics and after: When you take antibiotics, the good and the bad bacteria can get destroyed and out of harmony. Without bacteria to keep fungi from flourishing, fungi will have the chance to thrive during a course of antibiotics. One can blame some of the problems experienced when taking antibiotics (or after), such as diarrhea or infections down there, to fungal overgrowth -- especially yeast.
Candida albicans may go wild after antibiotics! And candida loves sugar and simple carbs, which your body makes into sugar. So, candida can flourish if bacteria aren't there like usual, as well as from food you put in your body! It's harder for it to thrive if the food source (sugar) isn't there.
Get in resistant starches:
Resistant starch means that it is resistant to digestion. So, it stays and ends up ferminting in your gut and then feeds the good microbes. So, if you feed the nice bacteria and keep those bad strains away - this too will help your gut recover. Here are some resistant starches: white beans, peas, lentils, raw plantains, raw potato starch, raw green bananas and unroasted cashes, whole grains including cooked oats, cooked and cooled rice.
Up your collagen: Bacteria in our gut actually protect our digestive track, so when they are out of whack, the fungi have hyphae that mess with intestional walls. They can poke holes, allowing food particles to get OUTside of the GI tract. That is not good! So the key is to keep your GI tract membranes strong and more resilient. Collagen is the protein that holds the membranes together -- so taking hydrolyzed collagen will help. Also, make sure you are getting in your vitamin C, which is how we *make* collagen.
Eat nutritious foods, especially vegetables:
After your bacteria gets wiped out -- the "good guys" and the "bad guys" will be battling it out as they repopulate.
So you want to feed the good ones and starve the bad ones. It turns out that the good bacteria help you digest and get the nutrients from vegetables and actually convert those into nutrients you won't otherwise get. So eat all those veggies that the good microbes eat, so more of them will colonize your gut!
Talk to your doctor and/or trusted health care professional about any supplements you take. This is not personalized medical advice. Cheers to healthy and recovered guts!