What are You Doing to Protect Your Gut from Antibiotics?
4 Min Read
Antibiotics are a very necessary part of life as humans navigate environments that are constantly fluctuating in both good and bad bacteria. When bad bacteria enter the body, antibiotics take on the mammoth task of fighting them off. In the process, antibiotics can affect the function of the intestinal immune system, the ability to resist infections, and the correct functioning of the metabolism (assimilation of nutrients, facilitating the processes of digestion, absorption and peristalsis). 1,2
Abdominal pain and digestive difficulties are among the most frequent symptoms after taking antibiotics. These difficulties may include diarrhea, nausea, cramping and excessive gas, with some more severe digestive cases leading to dysbiosis.
At the foundation of these annoyances there may be an alteration of the intestinal bacterial flora, which can undergo a reduction due to the protective effects of commensal microbes in favor of pathogenic ones. Probiotics are the best ally to maintain balance in this regard. Protection is better than a cure, and when these symptoms put us at risk for periods of gut disorder, measures need to be taken to keep the upper hand. 3,4,2
Let’s look at some common symptoms caused by antibiotic treatment
Diarrhea or Constipation
When the healthy levels of intestinal flora in your gut have been disrupted by antibiotic therapy, it is normal for one’s bowels to either leak, or become totally stagnant. Both conditions can be painful, albeit easily treatable. 5,6
Cramping and Bloating
Another two symptoms of lacking gut flora colonies are abdominal pain and intestinal swelling. One might be able to avoid the onset of these by sticking to a very strict dosage and schedule when taking antibiotics. 7
As your good bacteria of the microbiota are wiped out by the medicines, it’s not uncommon to experience nausea as a side effect. This may be accompanied by one or more of the aforementioned symptoms. 8
Let’s take a look at what and what not to eat when undergoing antibiotic treatment.
What to eat more of
During antibiotic therapy, it is good to follow a diet rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, especially Vitamin C contained in fruit and vegetables. It is always recommended that one choose a probiotic that has proven antibiotic resistance. Here’s everything you need to know:(9)
Rice, a simple and quick food to digest, it contains complex carbohydrates that replenish energy and is digested without further straining the stomach, giving the illusion of fiber. In the intestine, rice also helps to block any episodes of “antibiotic” dysentery.
Yogurt (better if skimmed) and its presence of enzymes, can help digestion. It is also a probiotic food, rich in microorganisms that restore the bacterial flora.10
Asparagus and green tea are rich in Vitamin K.
Bananas act effectively against any stomach acid and are astringent in the intestine, which helps when antibiotics cause real episodes of acute diarrhea. Also, bananas have the characteristics of a natural supplement: they are very rich in potassium, as well as other vitamins and minerals. 12,13,14
What to eat less of
In many cases, there may be interference between antibiotics and some foods. To avoid gastritis, acidity and dysentery, it is a good idea to avoid those foods that can have an irritating effect on the stomach walls and intestine. Let’s look at which ones are best avoided:
Probiotics can help to protect the gut from antibiotics.
Incorporating a probiotic into your routine during your antibiotic treatment gives you the upper hand in preventing gut disorder before it has the chance to set in. This way, you’re covered even in the days following the end of your treatment cycle.
The characteristics that a probiotic must have in order to be considered “high caliber” (and therefore entail real benefits) must be faithful to the definition of "probiotic" according to the FAO (Organization for Food and Agriculture) and the WHO (World Health Organization). This definition was also adopted by the Italian Ministry of Health, and can be reported verbatim: "Probiotics are live and vital microorganisms that prove capable, once ingested in adequate quantities, to exercise beneficial functions for the body". The function of probiotics is to keep the intestinal flora in balance, thus preventing the "bad"bacteria from gaining the upper hand. 19
- Bacteria: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; NCHR, [quoated June 2021] https://www.center4research.org/bacteria-good-bad-ugly/
- Facing a new challenge: the adverse effects of antibiotics on gut microbiota and host immunity ; PMC, May 2019 [quoated June 2021] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6511407/
- Rare and more severe side effects; Medical News Today, August 2018 [quoated June 2021] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322850#rare-and-more-severe-side-effects
- Antibiotics alter the gut microbiome and host health; Nature Portfolio, June 2019 [quoated June 2021] https://www.nature.com/articles/d42859-019-00019-x
- Antibiotic-associated diarrhea; Mayo Clinic, May 2019 [quoated June 2021] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antibiotic-associated-diarrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352231
- Taking Antibiotics? Be Sure to Protect your Digestive System!; PH, [quoated June 2021] https://www.phlabs.com/taking-antibiotics-be-sure-to-protect-your-digestive-system
- Pseudomembranous Colitis; Cleveland Clinic, [quoated June 2021] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17718-pseudomembranous-colitis
- What should you eat while taking antibiotics?; Medical News Today, July 2018 [quoated June 2021] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322374
- What You Should Eat During and After Antibiotics; Healthline, October 2017 [quoated June 2021] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-to-eat-antibiotics
- What to Eat When Taking Antibiotic; Positive Health Wellness, January 2018 [quoated June 2021] https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/eat-taking-antibiotic/
- WELCOME TO THE FATIGUE REDUCTION DIET!; Medicine.umich.edu, [quoated June 2021] https://medicine.umich.edu/sites/default/files/content/downloads/Welcome%20to%20the%20Fatigue%20Reduction%20Diet%20Plan.pdf
- Food Sources of Vitamin K; HealthLinkBC, November 2018 [quoated June 2021] https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating/everyone/food-and-nutrition/vitamin-k
- 5 Top Foods to Stave Off Acid Reflux Symptoms; AARP, July 2017 [quoated June 2021] https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/foods-help-acid-reflux-fd.html
- Bananas 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits; Healthline, May 2019 [quoated June 2021] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/bananas
- Using medication: Using antibiotics correctly and avoiding resistance;NCBI, November 2008 [quoated June 2021] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361005/
- What Is Wrong With Drinking Caffeine While Taking Antibiotics?; LiveStrong.com, January 2020 [quoated June 2021] https://www.livestrong.com/article/519894-what-is-wrong-with-drinking-caffeine-while-taking-antibiotics/
- Interactions-Antibiotics; NHS, May 2013 [quoated June 2021] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/interactions/
- Top 15 Calcium-Rich Foods (Many Are Non-Dairy); Healthline, July 2018 [quoated June 2021] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-calcium-rich-foods
- Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in; FAO, April 2002 [quoated June 2021] https://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/en/probiotic_guidelines.pdf
- Enterogermina® 2 billion Patient Information Leaflet Last revised Jul 2019.
- Enterogermina® 6 billion Patient Information Leaflet Last revised Jul 2019.
- Enterogermina® 2 billion capsules Patient Information Leaflet Last revised Jul 2019.