Gut Feeling Crummy After Antibiotics? Repopulate Your Good Bacteria with These Key Gut-Healing Foods
Spring might be on its way, but flu season isn't over quite yet. The coughs, the colds, the sore throats, and run-down feeling--what on earth can we do to get rid of these yucky symptoms?
To help, many people might be rushing to get into their doctor's office, looking for a cure for their symptoms. We’ve got to get rid of the bug before the warm weather, perfect for outdoor activities, is here. Let’s see what the doc can do!
Antibiotics and Gut Health
We’re sure you’ve been here before--you leave the doctor’s office with a pharmacy slip for antibiotics. Antibiotics are oftentimes the type of prescription doctors give to patients as a remedy for their cold or flu symptoms.
Antibiotics work by wiping out bacteria in the body--both good and bad. While getting rid of bad-guy bacteria will help with your cold and flu symptoms, eliminating all bacteria in the body throws off the body from its natural, healthy balance.
So while you may get some quick relief from the sniffles, there are two things very wrong with this cold- and flu-fighting tactic:
- The common cold and flu that are spread around this time of year are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are used to fight bacterial infections, so in this case this type of medication isn’t necessary and doesn't need to be taken.
- Antibiotics work by altering the bacteria in your body. When antibiotics are introduced into the system, this causes a reverse impact on your immune system, which is what helps make your body feel better again. But here’s the problem: 60-80% of your immune system is located in the gut, and the condition of the gut is not something you want to mess with.
Although they are some of the most prescribed medications in the country, it's no secret that there can be damaging effects of antibiotics on gut microbiota. In fact, 1 in 4 prescribed antibiotics inhibits the growth of at least one type of healthy gut bacteria found in the gut.
One out of hundreds of different types of bacteria may not sound like a big deal, but it is! Maintaining a balanced microbiome is a delicate feat, one that can certainly be tossed out of whack by something so small.
Luckily, if you are proactive about maintaining a healthy gut, it doesn't take much to balance it out, even when you are sick.
How to Balance Your Gut Health After Taking Antibiotics
It may not be realistic to swear off all antibiotics because they can be necessary for certain circumstances. If your situation requires antibiotics in order for you to heal, then listen to your doctor, but know that there are ways to keep your gut healthy while doing so.
Adding these supplements and foods that promote healthy gut flora into your diet and daily routine (or doubling up on them if you're ahead of the game) can help to enhance your gut after taking antibiotics.
Include Prebiotics and Probiotics in your Diet
These good-for-you types of bacteria are a sure way to replenish good bacteria after antibiotics. Prebiotics work alongside probiotics to help restore the good bacteria in your gut in order to keep your health in tip-top shape. Prebiotics and probiotics can be incorporated into your diet through supplements or by eating certain probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods:
- Probiotic-rich Foods - greek yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, raw cheese, and miso
- Prebiotic-rich Foods - rye, asparagus, bananas, oats, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, yacon root
While common sense would tell you to down these foods at the same time as antibiotics to cancel them out, that's not how our body works. In order for your body to actually benefit from the prebiotics and repopulate good bacteria, prebiotics should be eaten a few hours either before or after you take your antibiotics. If antibiotics are taken along with prebiotics, the medication will kill the good bacteria immediately instead of allowing your gut to absorb it properly.
Eat Collagen Daily
When the gut has an imbalanced proportion of good to bad bacteria, it can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine. When the lining is damaged, bacteria can begin to leak from the intestines, something that is called leaky gut. Collagen, which is a protein made up of amino acids, can help repair the gut lining, preventing leaky gut from happening. Bone broth is a good source of collagen protein, and you can also buy collagen protein supplements or find this powerful-protein in our Keto Chocolaty Cookie Dough Bar.
Eat Foods with Yacon Root Syrup
The yacon root is another prebiotic that can help to improve the number of good bacteria in your gut. Yacon roots are made of sugars called FOS that our gut can't digest, making them an awesome prebiotic and the perfect immunity booster when taking antibiotics. We're big yacon root enthusiasts around here and use its syrup in our Rowdy Bars. Because of its prebiotic properties and healthy handful of other nutritional benefits, this good-for-you ingredient gives our pocket-sized snacks their gut-health name.
Eliminate Refined Foods
Prebiotics, probiotics, and collagen will have an easier time healing your gut if you also avoid refined foods and processed sugar. Eating junk food and sugary treats will continue to decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. Don't work against your own efforts, instead eat clean whole foods to rebalance the microbiome.
How Long Does It Take To Rebuild Gut Flora After Antibiotics, Exactly?
You’re on board, taking care of your microbiome and all it’s bacteria friends, and ready to get your gut up and moving properly again. How will it take?
There is no magic number here. The regrowth of eliminated bacteria all depends:
- The type of antibiotics you take
- The duration of time you’re taking antibiotics
- How balanced your microbiome was before starting antibiotics
- How well you’ve been taking care of your gut since then
Sometimes weeks, sometimes months, and sometimes longer. Here's our #1 piece of advice: pay attention to what you put into your body and take care of your gut whether you’re taking antibiotics or not.
Alternative Ways To Squash Your Symptoms Without Antibiotics
It’s not always possible, we get that. Antibiotics are beneficial for many different symptoms and circumstances. But if you can, consider using these alternative ways to get rid of your symptoms and avoid those gut-busting antibiotics all-together.
** Talk with your doctor before using any of the following to tackle cold and flu symptoms.
Pay Attention To Your Gut
In many cases where you have caught a cold or the flu, focusing on your gut health will help to support your immune system. Why is this? The gut is full of trillions of living organisms, or bacteria, that play a huge part in regulating the immune system. And, as we said before, over 60% of your immune system is actually located right in your gut microbiome. By working hard to keep your gut happy and healthy, you’ll also be helping your immune system fight (and prevent) bad-guy bacteria and viruses from making you sick.
Get Plenty Of Rest
When you don’t get enough adequate sleep, your body’s immune system begins to suffer. In fact, insufficient sleep can be what causes a cold or flu to start in the first place. Make sure to take it easy and get plenty of rest before, after, and while you’re feeling sick. Proper sleep will give your body the strength to fight off whatever bad stuff is going on inside.
Plenty of Vitamins And Nutrients
When sick, your body needs all the power and fuel it can get to fight off the bug. Make sure to stay on top of taking your vitamins and eat meals rich in protein and nutrients. Leafy greens, warm soup based in bone broth, and lean meats are great for fueling your body to fight.
Make sure to get plenty of liquid into your system when you’re under the weather. Warm lemon water, clear bone broth, natural juices, and water will help keep your body hydrated and loosen up congestion and mucus. Avoid drinking liquids with caffeine, alcohol, or refined sugars. These types of drinks will worsen dehydration and inhibit your body from bouncing back.
Stay Healthy, Heal Your Gut While on Antibiotics
Being proactive about gut health is always a top health priority, but it’s particularly necessary when you're sick or taking antibiotics. Use these helpful tips to support your body's largest immune system: your gut.
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