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Minimising the Effect of Antibiotics on Gut Health

In my post What causes damage to our gut? I touched on how antibiotics can damage our gut bacteria.

Unfortunately my GP has just prescribed a weeks worth on antibiotics for me, so I’ve been researching what I can do to minimize the impact on my gut bacteria, and hence my overall health.

Our gut bacteria are important for lots of functions, not just digesting our food. This video provides a excellent summary of what’s going on in our gut,  and my post When the gut is damaged describes what happens when the microbiome is compromised.

Having agreed with my GP that antibiotics are needed right now, all I can do is try to protect my gut as much as possible.  If you want more detail on this subject then I recommend this article by Chris Kresser.

Probiotics:  I will be taking Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic capsules.  I have to take my antibiotics 4 times a day, so timing my probiotic dose is difficult.  Ideally I want to give it maximum time in my gut, as far from antibiotic doses as possible.  I will be taking mine about 1 hour after my first dose of antibiotics.

Beneficial Yeast:  I will also take S. Boullardi.  This is a beneficial yeast, and hence will not be killed by the anti-biotics.  It will hopefully stop the spread of undesirable yeasts such as candida, which often thrive when the balance of our microbiome is affected by antibiotics.

Prebiotics: Prebiotics feed our microbiome.  I will be eating plenty of soluble fibre e.g. potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes, carrots to aid this.

Fermented foods:  Whilst probiotics help repopulate the number of beneficial bacteria in our gut, they do not contain the variety of species that are naturally present.  To ensure I get a diverse range of bacteria and yeasts I will be drinking Kombucha, eating homemade yoghurt and eating Homemade Kim Chi.

Gelatin: Gelatin is healing for the gut, and also supports liver health.  Our livers have to process and detoxify medications, and also deal with the additional waste from dead bacteria.  I will focus on getting bone broth (chicken stock) into my body, via homemade soups.  I will also make a batch of Blueberry Jello, to give a bit of variety to my gelatin intake.

Ginger:  Ginger is helpful for nausea and digestive upset.  So I may make some ginger tea, as well as adding ginger to my daily vegetable juice if I feel nauseous.

Avioding sugar:  Sugar feeds the undesirable bacteria and yeasts, and hence I will be trying to stay away from it. Although I’m not committing to total abstention, I will be aiming for it over the next week.

insoluble fibre:  Usually I include plenty of insoluble fibre in my diet.  However, I’ll temporarily be reducing my intake as this could irritate the gut lining.  Foods high in insoluble fibre include beans, lentils and vegetables such as Kale, cabbage (except in my Kim Chi), bell peppers, celery brocolli and cauliflower.  I will still juice some of the vegetables, because this removes the fibre.

Relaxation:  It’s important to remain in a relaxed state for as much time as possible.  When we are in a stressed state effort is diverted away from cell repair/healing and digestion.  Since my improvements over the summer I can manage most days without a long, formal rest now, although I still try to make time for meditation, because I find it helpful.   I will be ensuring I focus on meditation and relaxation more than usual over the next week, to counteract the physical stress the antibiotics, and the infection they are dealing with, are putting on my body.

What really happened

I drafted this post at the beginning of the week, when I was starting my antibiotics.  I spent a couple of days (and nights) feeling extremely nauseous, and suffering abdominal discomfort.  Unsurprisingly I didn’t feel like eating much so I stuck to the blueberry jelly and chicken and carrot soup, to get plenty of healing gelatin into my gut.  I also found oat cakes to be a good food to eat to stop the worst of the nauseous feelings.   I moved my final dose of antibiotics earlier to 8pm and ate afterwards to help with the night-time nausea, and I found that eating straight after taking the antibiotics also helped me.

Now my gut is feeling fine and I’m no longer nauseous, so I’m eating a wider variety of foods.  I’ve still got 3 more days on the antibiotics, and I’m hoping they’ve done their job, and that my gut bacteria will be OK.  As ever with my experiment of one I’ve no proof that the steps I’ve taken have helped,  (I’d have to do a trial where I take antibiotics and don’t do any of these things for comparison for that), but I amazed at how well I am feeling now.

I hope if you have to take antibiotics some of these suggestions are helpful to you.

 

 

 

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