Antibiotics And The Effects on The Gut
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They have revolutionised the way infectious diseases are treated since 1928 when penicillin, the first true antibiotic, was discovered by Alexander Fleming, Professor of Bacteriology at St. Mary's Hospital in London. The average human life expectancy jumped by eight years with the introduction of antibiotics.
Some are highly specialised and are only effective against certain bacteria. Others, known as broad-spectrum antibiotics, attack a wide range of bacteria, including the good and the bad bacteria in our gut. This is where the problem lies - some antibiotics can’t differentiate between good and bad bacteria, so after a course of antibiotics your gut is at square one. So what can we do to ensure our guts are ok after we finish a course? Read below to find out!
What to do after you finish antibiotics
After a course of antibiotics, the best thing you can do for your gut is to take probiotics to start building back the good bacteria. It will also help to add foods to your diet that contain probiotics (a list can be found below).
Not only are probiotics important, but prebiotics are also important. Probiotics feed on prebiotics. In other words, food containing prebiotics go through the small intestine undigested and are fermented when it reaches the large colon. This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria) and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our digestive systems.
Things to remember
Given that probiotics are bacteria themselves, they can also be killed by antibiotics if taken together. So it is important to take probiotics after a course of antibiotics in order to restore some of the healthy bacteria in the intestines that may have been killed.
Good sources of probiotics
- Sourdough bread
Good sources of prebiotics
- Chicory root
- Cocoa powder
A great snack to incorporate into your diet if you are trying to increase your probiotic and prebiotics intake, along with protein and fibre, is a tub of low fat greek yoghurt, ½ scoop Slim Mama Shake (choc or vanilla), 1 tsp cocoa, 1 tsp flaxseeds and ½ banana chopped up all mixed in!