What do you need to know about antibiotics?
- Antibiotics are antibacterial substances that are produced by other microorganisms to kill or inhibit infections caused by pathogenic bacteria. Penicillin was one of the first antibiotics produce by a particular type of mold Penicillum (1).
- Antibiotics often have broad antibacterial spectrum, which means they are killing not only bad bacterial but most of the good bacteria in your gut too.
- Antibiotic use and abuse early in life is associated with childhood obesity (2).
- Inappropriate use of antibiotics leads to
- unhealthy gut flora,
- susceptibility to other infections that are harder to treat like antibiotic associated Clostridium defficile infection, fungal infections like the ones caused by Candida albicans and
- antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria.
- In addition the use of antibiotics (via altering balance of your healthy gut microbes) can cause (3):
- decreased immune system
- leaky gut
- digestive issues that result in diarrhea, IBS and other diseases
- extra-intestinal disorders like stress, allergy, asthma, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
- Antibiotics do not work in treating viral diseases like common colds, flue and other viral infections.
What do you need to know about probiotics?
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that provide health benefits (4):
- Good gut bacteria present in the gut are naturally designed to fight infections and protect our bodies via producing antimicrobial substances
- Probiotics improve ones immune system
- Help digest food
- Probiotics produce vitamins and minerals
- Improve mental health
- May help improve social behaviour
- May help to maintain healthy weight
- They help with allergies
- They recover microbe balance after the use of antibiotics
- PrEbiotics are non-digestible or selectively digestible food ingredients that promote growth of good bacteria – prObiotics. Basically, prEbiotics feed prObiotics.
- Use probiotics in combination of antibiotics to help fight infection and avoid dramatic negative changes in the balance of your bacterial flora.
- Use “alive” foods on a daily basis to strengthen your immune system. Examples of such foods are probiotics containing drinks like kombucha, milk and water kefirs. Other fermented foods also contain numerous beneficial bacteria – yogurt, kimchi, pickled cucumbers and sauerkraut.
- Eat a lot of prEbiotics (like honey and garlic) and fiber rich foods fruit and vegetables to promote growth of good bacteria in your gut.
The bottom line is, eat pro- and prebiotic containing foods that will help you keep your immune system healthy. If you really have to have antibiotics to manage bacterial infection remember to use probiotics to help you fight that infection and restore your intestinal flora. How to choose the best probiotic had here.
You might also like to read “BREAST-FEEDING THE MICROBIOME”.
- Tan STatsumura Y. Alexander Fleming (1881–1955): Discoverer of penicillin. Singapore Medical Journal. 2015;56(07):366-367.
- Scott F, Horton D, Mamtani R, Haynes K, Goldberg D, Lee D et al. Administration of Antibiotics to Children Before Age 2 Years Increases Risk for Childhood Obesity. Gastroenterology. 2016;151(1):120-129.e5.
- Guinane Cotter P. Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology. 2013;6(4):295-308.
- Linares D, Ross P, Stanton C. Beneficial Microbes: The pharmacy in the gut. Bioengineered. 2015;7(1):11-20.