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Recover your Gut Health after Antibiotics

Updated: Mar 11, 2023

Antibiotics have their place. Many infectious diseases that would made us gravely ill or killed us in past generations are now easily stopped through a course of antibiotic medication.

Using antibiotics wisely to stop the progress of acute illness is valuable at times.

Unfortunately they don’t come without side effects, antibiotics are not selective in which bacteria they kill. It’s like using a bomb to destroy some of the weeds in your garden.

Good bacteria, known as probiotic’s (‘pro-life’) are a massive part of your immune and digestive system. When you take antibiotic’s you also kill these health enhancing bacteria creating an imbalance in your gut.

What happens when your gut is out of balance:

These are just a few of the common symptoms Dr Vincent Pedre the medical director of Pedre Integrative Health has noted:

  • nutritional deficiencies

  • digestive issues like excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation

  • weaken immune function resulting in catching any bug that is around

  • hormonal imbalances that result in PMS, infertility and menstrual issues

  • skin issues like eczema or psoriasis

  • Poor sleep quality like insomnia

  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression

With these symptoms or issues in mind, it’s extremely important to take immediate action to restore gut health once an antibiotic treatment in completed.

Before you begin

Understanding your digestive health is pivotal in repairing your gut effectively.

If you follow the below recommendations but have a diet full of processed, refined dead foods, you won’t get great results as your guts “normal” state may be one of dysfunction.

A traditional whole food diet makes a huge difference in how healthy your gut is, so refreshing yourself on these guidelines is necessary first step.

If you follow a traditional whole food diet, but suffer intestinal damage due to antibiotics some practical ways to help repair the damage are to:

Drink Bone Broth

Your grandmother was onto it when she offered real chicken soup (not the stuff you buy in a packet) to everyone who was sick with a cold or flu. Real chicken soup contained bone broth (See Bone broth recipe) which is full of minerals and beneficial amino acids like glutamine. There is significant research to show evidence between glutamine intake and the repair of the epithelial lining of the gut (University of Maryland Medical Centre)

Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods can help re-introduce beneficial bacteria into gut.

Traditionally, cultures around the world have always consumed fermented foods and research suggests up to 12 serves daily! Some examples include:

  • Romans consumed sauerkraut

  • In India having a lassi, a pre-dinner yogurt drink is common.

  • Bulgarians consume high levels of fermented milk and kefir

  • Ukrainians consume raw yogurt, sauerkraut, and buttermilk.

  • Many Asian cultures eat pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, cucumbers, onions, and carrots in the form of kimchi.

In modern times, refrigeration and harmful agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine, means our food contains little to no probiotics and many foods actually contain antibiotics which contribute to killing off the good bacteria in our bodies.

Note: Some people have digestive issues such as candida overgrowth, difficultly digesting certain FODMAPS, or have an intolerance to histamine. In these cases, ingesting fermented foods will not help the weakened gastrointestinal systems and the best option is to take a quality probiotic.

Take Therapeutic Grade Probiotics

Therapeutic grade probiotic’s can aid the introduction of good bacteria into your digestive system. Many people find their overall health improves in a much shorter period of time (Dr Vincent Pedre). Gut health specialist and founder/author of the GAPS diet: Doctor Natasha Campbell-McBride says to restore and repopulate the gut microbiome can take up to four years following a course of antibiotics. Taking the above steps towards healing the gut will be more effective if you also take a quality probiotic. The benefit of supplementing with probiotic’s means you can target with the bacteria that are best for helping with certain ailments i.e. What one might take for irritable bowel symptoms is different from what would be recommended for eczema or recurrent colds. Touch base if you need specific recommendations.

Top Tips for avoiding Antibiotic Use

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin

Increase your intake of probiotics either in a quality supplement form or in cultured foods i.e. sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kimchi. Dr. Mercola sent his homemade sauerkraut to a registered laboratory and reported the findings stating, “We had it analyzed. They found in a 113-170gram serving of the fermented vegetables there were literally ten trillion bacteria.” That means 56 grams of homemade fermented sauerkraut had more probiotics than a bottle of your standard 100 count probiotic capsules. Syringing off the juice is a great way to get these amazing beneficial bacteria into kids and this is something I do almost daily with my two.

Take natural antibiotics as soon as you start to feel sick.

  • Raw Garlic contains allicin and is proven to be a powerful anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-biotic. Its properties are similar to penicllin (Authority Nutrition) Garlic can be treated with chemicals to prevent it prematurely sprouting, so buy organic garlic or grown your own. Take 1 clove per day of raw garlic – easy ways to incorporate are in pesto’s or with my kids I slice it and tape it to their feet overnight. Yes you will taste garlic in your mouth in the morning.

  • Oil of Oregano contains carvacrol and thymol proven to be a powerful anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Dosage is dependent on age and what form you are taking in (Dr. Edward Group) You can message me for recommendations.

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract is high in many antioxidants, it increases immunity and is alkalizing in the body. Studies have found grapefruit seed extract effective against more than 800 forms of viruses and bacteria and more than a hundred strains of fungus and parasites (The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine). Dosage is dependent on age and what form you are taking in.

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