Antibiotics kill bacteria. The problem is, our bodies are filled with bacteria, and those microbes are essential to our health. Our gut is home to 300-1000 different species of bacteria that help us digest our food, create and synthesize vitamins, repel invading pathogens, create neurotransmitters, and more. Antibiotics are indiscriminate killers. They do not just target the one pathogen that is causing an infection in our body; they kill off the good bacteria in our gut as well.
If we take an antibiotic, especially a broad spectrum antibiotic, we need to replenish the good bacteria in our gut as quickly as possible. Not only do we need it to do its daily work, we need to maintain the delicate balance between bacteria and fungi. Candida is opportunistic. Given a chance, it will quickly mass-produce, wreaking havoc in the digestive tract and, in time, the entire body.
So what can you do to repopulate the good bacteria that antibiotics have destroyed?
First, you feed and house the good bacteria that remain in your colon and encourage them to multiply. They need prebiotics–raw, preferably organic, vegetables and fruits. Insoluble fiber provides food for good bacteria while giving it a structure upon which to multiply. Eat at least one big salad a day with a large variety of vegetables. Raw vegetables and fruits should always comprise 80% of your diet (more vegetables than fruits). After antibiotics, following this 80% rule (with mostly vegetables) is essential to regain the proper bacterial balance in your gut.
Avoid all processed sugar. Processed sugar feeds Candida and “bad” bacteria (including the pathogen you are trying to destroy with the antibiotic). Processed foods, heavy starches, and chemicals (sugar substitutes other than stevia, artificial colors, flavorings, and preservatives) should be completely avoided. This includes the healthier variety of sugars such as agave, brown rice syrup, fruit juice, etc. They should be avoided while trying to rebuild healthy flora as well. This is the time to eat a perfect diet. Even varieties of fruit with higher sugar content should be limited at this time.
Probiotics are the next step to help you repopulate the gut with good bacteria. Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain beneficial bacteria. But note, probiotics are not all equal. Don’t eat flavored, sugar-filled, commercial yogurt. It will do more harm to your gut than good.
There is a problem with probiotics – getting the good bacteria past the stomach acid and into the gut is not easy. Stomach acid kills off a lot of the probiotics we ingest in any form. So eat a lot of them.
Fermented vegetables like homemade sauerkraut and kimchi, kombucha, coconut kefir, and other fermented foods do deliver live beneficial bacteria into the gut along with nutrition and enzymes. Supplements also help, though you must choose high quality probiotic supplements that are specifically formulated to get past the stomach acid. While a store-bought probiotic supplement has only a fraction of the beneficial bacteria that a good homemade sauerkraut has, the truly high quality probiotic supplements have bacteria strands much more able to bypass the stomach acid.
It should also be noted that if you do not have your appendix, it is a good idea to regularly supplement your diet with a quality probiotic.
But remember – prebiotics are the most important. Eat right, load up on healthy greens and others veggies, and fermented foods. Your body will thank you. It is also good to note that 80% of our immune system is contained within our gut, and those bacteria your antibiotic killed off are the foundation of that immune response. Feed them right and they will help you avoid getting sick in the future.
Check out this salad recipe in this 80% Raw Food Diet article. If you’re looking for more tips on restoring proper balance to your inner eco-system, read How to Cure Candida, and check out the second source below for a good sauerkraut recipe.
Q. Aziz, J. Dore’,A. Emmanuel, F. Guarner, & E. M. M. Quigley; Gut Microbiota and Gastrointestinal Health: Current Concepts and Future Directions, Neurogastroenterol & Motility (2013) 25, 4-15
About the author:
Michael Edwards is the founder, owner, editor-in-chief, and janitor for Organic Lifestyle Magazine and Green Lifestyle Market. At age 17, Michael weighed more than 360 pounds. He suffered from ADHD, allergies, frequent bouts of illness, and chronic, debilitating insomnia.