17 Mar Gut Health ~ Antibiotics & Probiotics

Antibiotics do exactly what it says on the tin so to speak – they destroy life. Which is brilliant if you have a potentially deadly bacterial infection that needs addressing tout suite! They also don’t discriminate, killing the bad bacteria that can cause infection but also wiping out every single living thing in your intestinal tract. That includes the good guys otherwise known as the friendly, good bacteria that fortify and rebuild our natural gut flora that help fight infection and promote a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system.

On the reverse side probiotics literally means “life giving” they contain live beneficial microbes, primarily bacterial strains and we need a balance of both the peace loving friendly lot and the not so well behaved bacteria. Probiotics can help restore the healthy bacteria that antibiotics can kill off. Which is just as well as antibiotics are being horribly over prescribed and often prescribed unnecessarily taking the place of good home remedies such as simple rest, home made chicken soup and plenty of fluids.

If you have recently taken antibiotics it is super important to support your gut health by helping restore gut flora to it’s happy optimal levels once more. You can do this through temporary supplementation with a probiotic or boosting good bacteria by introducing or increasing intake of the foods and practices below as recommended by Dr. Mark Hyman:

9 Ways to Optimise Gut Flora

The best way to grow a healthy inner garden and make your gut bugs happy begins with your diet. Start building healthy gut flora with your next forkful:

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods. One of the best ways to maintain gut health involves cutting out the sugar and refined carbs and jacking up gut-supporting fiber.
  2. Make 75 percent of your plate be vegetables and plant-based foods. Your gut bugs really love these high-fibre plant foods.
  3. Eat good fats and get an oil change. The good fats (like omega 3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil) will help with decreasing inflammation, giving healthy gut bugs a chance to flourish.
  4. Supplement smartly. Beyond the numerous benefits (including reducing inflammation), studies find omega 3 fatty acids can support healthy gut flora. You should definitely supplement with an essential fatty acids formula, if you’re not regularly eating wild-caught fatty fish.
  5. Take a good probiotic supplement. This helps reduce gut inflammation while cultivating health and the growth of good bacteria. See Side Notes *, **, ** at end of post.
  6. Add more coconut. Studies demonstrate anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits from adding Medium Chain Triglyceride or MCT oils. Coconut oil and coconut butter, contains these fabulous fat-burning MCTs.
  7. Remove inflammatory fats. Cut out bad, inflammatory omega 6 rich fats like vegetable oils. Replace these with healthier oils like extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
  8. Add fibre-rich foods. Nuts, seeds, and a special fibre called glucomannan provide prebiotics and feed our healthy bacteria.
  9. Add fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso contain good amounts of probiotics so your healthy gut bugs can be fruitful and multiply.

*Caution around yogurt.
Probiotic yoghurt is prepared by first pasteurising the milk then adding beneficial bacteria to the product. Fermentation occurs in the presence of lactobacilli. Whilst yoghurt is beneficial in the replenishment of lost gut flora it can also cause irritation of mucous forming glands. Excessive milk consumption has been associated with increased lung and nose mucus production. It is common to find ourselves with a cough, or drippy nose after a cold and if we have had a round of antibiotics to treat a cold then it will super important to boost the good bacteria but avoid aggravating the tail end of colds with dairy products. You can substitute yogurt with other sources of lactobacilli including sauerkraut and sourdough bread, soy beans fermented with brown rice forming what is otherwise known as a miso paste.

How much do I need to take and what do I need to look for in a probiotic supplement?

Nutritionist Brian Tanzer says not all probiotics are alike. A good range for a daily probiotic can be between 5 and 30 billion Colony-Forming Units (CFU), which are used to measure probiotics potency. According to Tanzer, people should keep three tips in mind when choosing a probiotic:

1. If you are looking for a probiotic to take every day, try a multi-strain probiotic. CFUs can range from 1 billion up to 200 billion. CFU count isn’t that important when using a probiotic every day. Start with 5-10 billion CFU and see how it works for you.
2. If you are just finishing up a course of antibiotics and you have chronic digestive and immune issues, look for a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria with a CFU count of at least 30 billion.
3. You can find probiotics in many forms – capsules, tablets, gummies, powders, and even chewables. Powders are convenient, especially for those who prefer not to swallow a pill. Chewables and gummies can also work well for kids.

So there you have it! Wishing you and your gut garden a happy and harmonious time ahead ♥

Side Note:
*My natural health practitioner prescribes Microbiotic or Terra Nova when I need a probiotic boost.
**Always consult a health care professional before taking any form of supplementation to ensure correct dosage and overall suitability for your current health.

***Yakult – lots of people ask about this product – whilst it has added lactobacilllus it also has lots of not so great things added like sugars for more in depth info on Yakult head here

Helpful reading: GUT – click here to buy your copy
Art work source: protomag.com

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