Before we start this post folks lets be very clear here that antibiotics are life saving medications. Literally. Great scientific minds have worked to create these drugs and they have a real place in treating bacterial infections that can have serious consequences. And when you do genuinely need to take them you should take them. BUT…where the use of these has become ubiquitous, and in many cases unnecessary, is really the major issue. Taking antibiotics in any shape, form, or reason can have longstanding effects on the health of our gut and our microbiome. Indeed even if you do have legit reasons for taking antibiotics you need to also be aware of the knock on effects that can for some people can take months, years or may never fully recover their microbiome after taking just one course. And if you have read some of the other posts here on SYMPROVE and/or know a bit of your stuff on why we need a healthy microbiome you will also be aware of the processes it manages that are far more intrinsic to our overall health than just digestion alone so just take heed before you wipe out those magnificent microorganisms without thought.
And that is really where the problem herein lies is that antibiotics are akin to a grenade in terms of their effects on the rest of our microbiome including bacteria that we don’t much want to get rid of and in fact need to nurture. In their killing spree antibiotics are not quite as discerning as one would ideally like and a lot of our other microorganisms that perform crucial roles get caught in the cross fire. As such you may have had the direct experience of a changing situation in the gut and your daily movements following a course of antibiotics. However the crucial thing here is not to dwell on the collateral damage but to get your gut back on track and support the growth and thriving nature of our inner gut ecosystem.
Some reckon that taking probiotics whilst taking antibiotics is pretty pointless but there are reasons to disagree. Recent and compelling evidence that SYMPROVE has just published demonstrates that their formula may in fact enhance the efficacy of your antibiotic by shifting the environmental conditions of the gut so that potential pathogens are not able to survive. It isn’t just about being all Arnie terminator style and ‘killing off’ but working WITH our own ecosystem so that it is lush and vibrant thereafter. Really we want to create an environment that allows the microorganisms in the formula to thrive and survive whilst simultaneously setting up one that is less hospitable for potential pathogenic bacteria to seize themselves an advantageous position. Yup they can be crafty little blighters! Naturally some of the bacteria in the formula may be destroyed but there is also the transient positive effect that these microoragnisms play so that’s something else to take on board.
The other part of helping keep your gut get back on track isn’t about replacing the numbers but also the diversity of your microbiome so alongside taking a well researched formula like SYMPROVE you should also consciously include foods that help to support the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut. Prebiotics are essentially the food of the gods as far as our gut bacteria are concerned so including good amounts of fibre is non negotiable. They love the stuff, so just pack in as much variety in your veggies and fruits as possible particularly soluble fibre sources such as carrots, butternut squash, parsnips, beetroot, bananas, apples (stewed even better) and sweet potatoes. You can also include whole grains but try to have them sprouted or fermented (like in the form of sourdough) or nuts & seeds lightly roasted as too much insoluble fibre might just be a bit irritating on your gut during and right after a course of antibiotics so just take it a bit easier on these. Some of the more potent prebiotics include bananas, oats, garlic, onion, asparagus and chicory so if you really want to give your biome a feast these are going to be your top hitters. Another way of aiming to increase diversity in the gut is eating fermented foods that provide a direct source of beneficial bacteria. This includes sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, unpasteurised cheese, full fat organic yogurt and kombucha. Plus you could also do well to mindfully include foods rich in polyphenols that act as energy sources for our microbes such as organic fruit & veg – in particular blueberries and leafy greens score high here as well as spices, herbs, coffee and dark chocolate (the highest cocoa content) and EVEN the odd glass of wine…and there you were thinking it was all doom and gloom!
So that’s the microbiome on the right road but antibiotic use can create inflammation in the gut itself that can include the barrier of the gut and tissue known as GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue), so try adding in foods that are going to have some kind of soothing and repairing effect. These would be those that are rich in glycine, a type of amino acid that helps to support and rebuild this tissue. You can find this in most animal protein sources such as organic meat/poultry and organic eggs as well as plant-based sources in beans, pulses and cabbage – sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) packs in those extra bacteria too. And bone broth might be a bit trendy with the hipsters at the mo but it has been used centuries over to boost the immune system and support the gut (80% of our immune system is located there FYI). This is because it contains glycine as well as other gut soothing substances such as proline and collagen that are important nutrients for repair or tissue. So if you can whip up a batch of the organic stuff (make sure it is organic) and add as a base to a veggie soup with a side of sourdough and unpasteurised cheese you have a bit of a triple threat right there for getting your gut back on track.
As a final parting note if you are coming off the back of a course of antibiotics chances are that you needed them for something pretty significant so make sure that you have plenty of rest and don’t just fling yourself back into the big wide world. Stress alone can create inflammation in the gut and slow the process of recovery so wind it down, put your feet up and give your gut a good time to rest + digest too.
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Marco et al ‘Health benefits of
fermentedfoods:microbiotaand beyond’ Curr Opin Biotechnol.2017 Apr;44:94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2016.11.010. Epub 2016 Dec 18.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27998788