A Careful Balancing Act: Understanding How Antibiotics Impact Your Gut Microbiome

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By Gastro MD

The antibiotics that are prescribed when you have a bacterial infection can be a lifesaver, but they’re not without side effects. For example, antibiotics disrupt the gut microbiome, leading to an imbalance in your gut that may cause digestive issues.

How Antibiotics Affect the Gut Microbiome

Good and bad bacteria exist in your gut. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria can make you sick. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics that will eliminate unhealthy bacterial cells. Antibiotics work by killing the bacteria that are making you sick. Unfortunately, antibiotics cannot differentiate between good or bad types of gut bacteria. Therefore, helpful bacteria may also be destroyed in the process.

Good bacteria in the gut are critical to maintaining a robust immune system, digestive health and protecting you from harmful toxins and germs. And if antibiotics disrupt your gut’s natural balance of bacteria, it can leave your digestive health compromised.

How to Rebuild Your Gut Microbiome After Taking Antibiotics

If you’re worried that the antibiotics you’ve taken recently have disrupted the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, here are a few ways you can rebuild your microbiome. 

Add Probiotics and Fermented Foods to Your Diet. The microbiota can be restored to its original state by taking probiotics, which are live healthy bacteria like Lactobacilli and Saccharomyces. High-probiotic sources include probiotic supplements, probiotic yogurt drinks and kombucha. Fermented foods high in probiotics include kefir, miso, sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.

Eat More Prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Consuming them can help restore a healthy balance and heal the microbiome from the damage caused by antibiotics. Healthy sources of prebiotics include bananas, apples,  asparagus, artichokes, broccoli and whole grains such as oats, rye bread, quinoa and brown rice.

Increase Your Fiber Intake. Fiber doesn’t get digested by your body, but it can be digested by microbes in your digestive tract, which helps stimulate the growth and restoration of lost good bacteria. 

If you have gastrointestinal issues and are worried about taking antibiotics, it’s best to first speak with an experienced gastroenterologist. For more info on your GI health, contact Gastro MD. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice and set the standard in digestive health care.

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