Have you ever wondered why you or your child get sick again and again after taking a course of antibiotics? Or you may experience stomach upset, diarrhea, yeast infections, or other issues.
Antibiotics can kill all the bacteria in your body, not just the “bad” stuff; they don’t know how to distinguish between the good bacteria in your gut and the bad stuff. This is why digestive issues are a common side effect of taking antibiotics; the delicate bacterial balance in your intestines is upset.
Studies have closely linked gut bacteria to good immune function and because antibiotics affect gut balance, this, in turn, alters the immune system.
“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “The immune system is inside your body, and the bacteria are outside your body.” And yet they interact. For example, certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut. “That’s what we’re trying to understand—what are the types of antibodies being made, and how is the body trying to control the interaction between ourselves and bacteria on the outside?” – Hopkins Medicine
Keeping a delicate balance in the immune system by eliminating invading pathogens, while still maintaining self-tolerance to avoid autoimmunity, is critical for the body’s health. The gut microbiota that resides in the gastrointestinal tract provides essential health benefits to its host, particularly by regulating immune homeostasis. Moreover, it has recently become obvious that alterations of these gut microbial communities can cause immune dysregulation, leading to autoimmune disorders. – NCBI
Simply put, there’s a good chance your immune system may be weakened as a result of taking antibiotics.
This is one of the many reasons why it’s better to avoid antibiotics if at all possible and look for natural remedies instead. Also, remember that many illnesses are viral and antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections.
There may be times when you or your child truly do need antibiotics, so always check with your doctor or health care provider and follow directions. Though some doctors prescribe probiotics too readily, so if you’re not sure, you should consider a second opinion.
So let’s say that life happens and you are prescribed a course of antibiotics. You know you need it (you’ve already tried natural remedies and it was obvious your body needs more assistance), but you’re not looking forward to the after-effects. How do you heal your gut after taking antibiotics?
Fortunately, there are all-natural ways you can support your body and heal your gut after taking antibiotics, thereby reducing the side effects and strengthening your immune system.
How to Heal Your Gut After Antibiotics:
1. Take probiotics while taking antibiotics.
At first, this may not make sense because probiotics are bacteria for your gut and wouldn’t it make sense for the antibiotics to destroy it? Studies have shown that taking probiotics along with antibiotics can be effective in both preventing and treating side effects, such as diarrhea. 1 2
One thing to remember: Don’t take the probiotics and antibiotics at the same time. It’s best to take them at least 2 hours apart. This will give the probiotics a better chance of settling in and not getting killed instantly by the antibiotics.
Last month, I had a nasty case of tonsillitis that was not improving with natural treatments. My doctor prescribed a 5-day course of antibiotics. I took my antibiotics in the morning and I took two doses of probiotics later in the day – one after lunchtime and the other before bed. I had no digestive issues at all.
This is one of my favorite gut-healing (or preventing) tips because it’s so simple to follow and so effective!
2. Take a good strain of probiotics.
And that doesn’t mean a sugar-loaded yogurt. Your best bet is to take a quality probiotic supplement.
Typically I mix it up every few months so I take a variety of probiotics. When I had to take antibiotics recently, I actually began taking two probiotics (iFlora and Pro 50) and it’s worked quite well as I’ve had no digestive issues at all.
I use this brand of probiotics for my kids. It’s a powder and very easy to mix into yogurt, oatmeal, a smoothie, or even milk.
Saccharomyces boulardii (also known as s. boulardii) is one strain of probiotics that can be especially helpful because it’s naturally resistant to antibiotics. This is because s. boulardii is technically a helpful yeast and not a bacteria. Studies have shown s. boulardii is very effective at preventing antibiotic-resistant diarrhea. 3
I take Jarows Formula Saccharomyces Boulardii for this probiotic strain.
3. Cleanse your liver
One of the liver’s jobs is to process toxins. Did you know that stress also puts a strain on your liver? Dealing with illness and the effects of antibiotics can cause a lot of stress for your liver.
You may consider a liver cleanse to help support your liver as you heal.
My favorite herbal source, Herbal Energetics, carries two amazing liver cleansing products – a simple herbal tincture called “Love My Liver” and a powder you can add to smoothies, called People Boost Inner Scrub. I use both daily.
You can also support your liver by drinking dandelion root tea.
4. Prebiotic foods
Prebiotic foods are a fiber that nourishes probiotics. By eating prebiotic foods, you can help support your gut bacteria and, as a result, your immune system.
Prebiotic foods include garlic, raw dandelion greens, onions, raw leeks, green bananas, raw asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke.
I love to make a simple recipe of slightly cooked chopped carrots, leek, onion, and garlic mixed with tomato paste and a little salt and pepper. I find this delicious and a very easy way to get some prebiotics into my diet.
I’m not a big fan of dandelion greens, but I do sneak a little bit into my green smoothies without it being too noticeable.
5. Bone Broth
Regularly consuming organic, grass-fed bone broth can be incredibly helpful in healing your gut after antibiotics. Here’s an article that explains the benefits of bone broth: The Healing Power of Bone Broth.
If you don’t have access to grass-fed, organic bones, you can buy bone broth as a powder too.
I haven’t been able to find regular organic bones where I live in New Hampshire (if you know of a good source, please tell me!), but I found this bone broth powder is a decent substitute. It doesn’t taste particularly good, but I mix it with my green smoothies and sometimes with my favorite protein powder and it tastes just fine.
Bonus tip: you can also eat fermented foods. These can include kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Here’s a list of more fermented foods.
Consider following these tips for how to heal your gut when you need antibiotics and notice the difference!
- NCBI: Prescribing an antibiotic? Pair it with probiotics https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601687/
- NCBI: Probiotics in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and Clostridium difficile infection
- Wiley Online Libary: Review article: yeast as probiotics –Saccharomyces boulardii http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2007.03442.x/full