While antibiotics often play an essential role in helping us overcome illness, they can also negatively affect our gut flora. Antibiotics do not discern good from bad and so, during a course of antibiotics, the plethora of good bacteria in our gut is lost along with the bad, which can lead to a host of problems.
Why Do I Need to Restore Good Bacteria After Antibiotics?
Research confirms that antibiotics can destroy beneficial bacteria and cause damage to the gut microbiome. While this is less likely to occur after one round of antibiotics (although possible), repeated rounds over a period of time without restoration of healthy gut bacteria could negatively affect gut health long-term.
Compromised gut health can lead to a weakened immune system, digestive problems, increased food allergies and sensitivities, and more. The good news is that there are some simple ways to restore good bacteria after antibiotics.
How do I Restore Good Bacteria?
Below you’ll find some quick and easy tips for restoring good bacteria. For more information on the best strategies for restoring gut flora, see our article here.
- Take a high-quality probiotic supplement with at least 50 billion CFU (colony forming units) per dose.
- Include fermented foods in your daily diet. Think raw sauerkraut, kimchi, plain yogurt (if you tolerate dairy), unsweetened kombucha tea, and kefir (without added sugars).
- Be sure to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, particularly those rich in prebiotics, as they are essential to feed the probiotic bacteria in your gut. Great sources of prebiotics come from foods such as bananas, plantains, garlic, onion, Jerusalem artichoke, and leafy greens.
How Long Does it Take to Restore Good Bacteria After Antibiotics?
Many people want to know exactly how long it takes to restore good bacteria after a round of antibiotics. While this will vary some person-to-person, a generalized recommendation is one round of probiotics for each week you were taking an antibiotic. Typically, a full round of probiotics would be an entire bottle, which could last from 1-2 weeks.
3 Tips to Speed Up the Restoration of Good Bacteria
- Take probiotics while taking antibiotics. A common misconception is that probiotics will be wasted if taken alongside antibiotics, but taking a probiotic while on antibiotics can actually help. Probiotics can decrease the pH (acidity level) of the colon, making it less habitable for bad bacteria and more habitable for good bacteria.
Additionally, taking a probiotic during your round of antibiotics can help boost your immune system, helping to create antimicrobial compounds that can make it harder for harmful bacteria to adhere to the lining of your digestive tract. Taking probiotics could also lessen any unpleasant side effects experienced by the antibiotics, including digestive upset, nausea, gas, and bloating.
- Choose a probiotic that contains Saccharomyces boulardii, which is a beneficial yeast that can’t be destroyed by antibiotics.
- Continue eating a diet rich in both pre- and probiotic foods long-term, and minimize gut-damaging foods like refined sugar and grains.
By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to restore your good bacteria after antibiotics as quickly as possible. If you continue to experience negative symptoms or side effects during or after a round of antibiotics, be sure to check in with your doctor.