Ever known someone who got diarrhea after treatment with antibiotics? To say the least, it’s happened to a friend of a friend of mine before; me.
We all know that antibiotics are powerful drugs good for killing off the bacteria in your body. Sometimes, they do that a little too well. That’s because they don’t selectively kill off only the harmful bacteria. They also take out the beneficial bacteria that help you.
Without following up, this can leave your body in a state susceptible to infection and poor digestion. It also promotes the emergence of resistant bacterial strains. You’re essentially a clean slate with free room and board for anybody that comes by and decides to set up shop!
With all the space cleared up, resistant strains such as Clostridium difficile can thrive in the gut post-antibiotics. This imbalance in your gut bacteria and subsequently overgrowth of harmful bacteria can lead to symptoms such as bloody diarrhea. Studies have shown that antibiotics are associated with diarrhea in up to 20% of those who take them. So how can we restore balance?
1.Probiotics -Supplementing with probiotics can help restore and replace your normal gut bacteria. Many of the strains in these products are similar to the ones that naturally live in the human digestive tract. Replacing them has been shown to prevent more than half of all cases of diarrhea. -Individual strains have also been tested. Studies have shown that Saccharomyce boulardii may be beneficial in preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea and treatment of Clostridium difficile. Likewise, Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been suggested for diarrhea after antibiotic treatment.
2.Food -Try to avoid simple sugars and packaged foods, as the processed ingredients promote the growth of bacteria. After antibiotics wipe out most of the normal gut bacteria, you don’t want to be feeding the harmful ones and encouraging them to stay and grow. -Instead, fermented foods are naturally loaded with beneficial strains of bacteria that can populate the human gut to replace the ones you lost. While they aren’t as concentrated as professional probiotics, you can eat these as a normal part of your meal! -It’s always better to make your own! Here are some recipes for making probiotic foods at home: -Kimchi: http://www.koreanbapsang.com/2013/10/mak-kimchi-simple-kimchi.html -Sauerkraut: http://wellnessmama.com/663/homemade-sauerkraut/ -Kombucha: http://wellnessmama.com/8638/continuous-brew-kombucha/
3.Prebiotics -Prebiotics are food that keep the beneficial bacteria living in your gut healthy. Often these non-digestable carbohydrates are present in everyday foods in the form of fiber. The human body and its enzymes can’t digest these components well, but our friends can! Some foods to consider include whole grains, onions, jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts as well as most fruits high in fiber such as bananas and mangos. - It may be difficult getting enough from meals, so these prebiotics are also available in pill form. However, not all products are selective for the beneficial strains, so you’ll want to check with your naturopathic doctor what’s right for you!
4.Help your body re-balance and recover from the side effects of antibiotics -Did you have diarrhea or loose stools when you took the antibiotics? Or constipation? A rash? -Ask your naturopathic doctor what they can do for you! Herbal medicine and/or acupuncture are great modalities that can complement your digestive tract recovery. They may also recommend other nutritional supplements or other modalities depending on your picture.
5.See a naturopathic physician! -The bottom line is that naturopathic doctors will help you put together a customized plan to follow-up with antibiotics. Each person reacts differently and has different circumstances, so going to your ND will guide you to the options right for you!
Disclaimer: Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. Health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor. The advice is intended to offer only a general basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider. Always consult your licenses Naturopathic Physician, or visit the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medical Clinic for individualized care.