How to get good bacteria after antibiotics
Credit: Getty Images. While almost all gut bacteria recover after exposure to antibiotics, six months afterward, the gut still lacks nine common beneficial bacterial species, according to new research. Research indicates that rich and diverse gut microbiota promote health by providing the human host with many competencies to prevent chronic diseases. In contrast, poor diversity of the gut ecosystem is a characteristic of chronic various diseases including obesity, diabetes, asthma, and gut inflammatory disorders. Now, an international team of researchers from Denmark, China, and Germany has found that when young healthy men took three antibiotics for four days it caused an almost complete eradication of gut bacteria, followed by a gradual recovery of most bacterial species over a period of six months. After the six months, however, the study participants were still missing nine of their common beneficial bacteria and a few new and potentially non-desirable bacteria had colonized the gut.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Alyaa Gad - Recovering from Antibiotics
Not all gut bacteria bounce back after antibiotics
Antibiotics eradicate pathogenic infections and save lives -- but in doing so, they also disrupt the integrity of the intestinal microbiome. While many physicians recognize the need for restoring a patient's microbial balance following a course of antibiotic therapy, far fewer understand how to do this effectively.
According to Amie Skilton, ND, restoration of gut flora is both art and science. Done well, it can make a world of difference for patients. In some cases, it can even help patients overcome the illnesses for which the antibiotics were initially prescribed.
Most of the extraneous prescriptions, the CDC found, were doled out for respiratory conditions caused by viruses like common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections, which do not respond to antibiotics.
Use of these drugs "put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the sometimes deadly diarrhea, Clostridium difficile. Further complicating the picture is the reality that antibiotics aren't only dispersed from doctor's offices; they're also fed liberally to livestock and sprayed extensively on produce, leaving minute but biologically active traces in the foods that humans then consume.
As antibiotics kill off infection-causing microorganisms, they also non-selectively destroy communities of beneficial gut bacteria, weakening the stability of the intestinal microbiome. This wholesale destruction can be massive; experimental data collected from a study using qPCR indicate up to a fold reduction in bacterial isolates immediately after treatment with antibiotics Panda, S. PLoS One. In a webinar sponsored by Holistic Primary Care and Bioceuticals, she outlined the myriad impacts of antibiotics on the human microbiome, noting that not all antibiotics are equally destructive to gut bacteria.
The degree to which these drugs damage intestinal microbiota depends on drug type, treatment duration, and frequency of use, Skilton said. Certain antibiotics, for instance, trigger a greater release of endotoxins and cytokines than others. Higher daily doses are more impactful. Prolonged use of high-dose antibiotics can cause extreme damage to the microbiome that may take years of restorative therapy to reverse, if it can be reversed at all.
And contrary to common belief, intravenous antibiotics can have the same negative impact on gut flora as oral drugs. We now know this is not true. The timing of antibiotic delivery also makes a difference. Individuals who frequently use antibiotics early in life are more vulnerable to many types of illness as they age.
In a paper published earlier this year, researchers demonstrated an association between antibiotic use during infancy and subsequent poor neurocognitive outcomes, suggesting that antibiotic consumption in a patient's first year of life was associated with small but statistically significant differences in cognitive, behavioral, and mood measures during childhood Slykerman, R.
Acta Paediatr. Brit Med J. Antibiotics have also been associated with obesity and weight gain in children as well adults Million, M. Researchers attribute these changes to the altered gut microbial composition.
Antibiotics can trigger the release of toxic lipopolysaccharides LPS , large molecules found in the outer membranes of pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. Some suggest that antibiotic-induced LPS release may contribute to the development of septic shock in patients treated for severe infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Others have demonstrated that LPS triggers an immune response by releasing inflammatory cytokines, a problem that worsens after antibiotic treatment, noted Skilton in her webinar Wu, T.
Toxicol Lett. From a pathogen's point of view, production of LPS is a survival strategy. These molecules interact on cell surfaces to form a barrier, preventing the antibiotics and other hydrophobic compounds from entering and allowing Gram-negative bacteria to live even in harsh environments Zhang, G.
Curr Opin Microbiol. Probiotics are one aspect in a comprehensive strategy to restore gut flora following antibiotics. Given the microbial diversity of a healthy gut ecosystem, Skilton recommends using products that contain many different species of beneficial microbes rather than "monocropping" with one or two single strains.
As a general rule, she advises one month of probiotic treatment for every week that a patient was on antibiotics. Those who have been on prolonged continuous antibiotic regimens, will likewise need long-term restoration. Patients receiving IV antibiotics should also take commensal probiotics.
Some clinicians who are aware of this issue will start the probiotics as early as four hours after a dose of IV antibiotics. This is usually accompanied by a loss of brush borders and a marked reduction in secretory IgA production. In some cases, these changes are caused by the effects of antibiotics themselves. In others, they reflect the impact of the infection for which the antibiotics were prescribed. Either way, the effect is the same: establishment of a microenvironment that is hospitable to opportunistic pathogens like Candida, but increasingly difficult for normal commensal bacteria.
Chronic urinary tract infections, and mucosal infections like thrush are red flags for low sIgA production, Skilton pointed out. Without a healthy glycocalyx, organisms like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacilli have great difficulty establishing themselves. In this context, supplementation with ordinary probiotics will usually fail. Skilton explained. To restore a healthier microenvironment in these cases, you need to leverage the unique characteristics of Saccharomyces boulardii, an antibiotic-resistant, probiotic yeast originally isolated from lychee fruit in Indochina.
Though not a true commensal organism, S. Clin Infect Dis. But the most remarkable thing is it's ability to quickly colonize the damaged endothelium and displace pathogenic yeasts while simutaneously creating a healthier microenvironment for commensal bacteria. Skilton noting that it is specifically active against 7 out of the 8 most common pathogenic Candida species.
The one exception is C. The antibiotics are the hurricane. You can then repopulate the village with commensals. BioCeuticals, an Australian practitioner-only nutraceutical company, recently introduced a product called SB Floractiv , providing mg S. For patients who've been on long-term antibiotics, begin slowly with one capsule mg per day for days, then increase to two per day for another days, and then increase in a similar step-wise pattern up to four per day mg that should be continued for the remainder of a 4 week period.
That said, it is important to be aware that in the first few days of taking S. Candidal die-off can also make people feel ill. It is best to advise patients of these possibilities beforehand, so they're not surprised if they occur. According to Dr. Skelton, in 9 out of 10 patients, four weeks of intensive S. This then sets the stage for a much more effective round of restoration with a multi-strain probiotic. Bioceuticals has designed a product specifically for use after antibiotics.
Called BioFloractiv , it contains billion CFUs, 12 species, and 14 strains of beneficial bacteria. Skilton recommends a maximum of 14 days, though one week of daily therapy is sufficient for most, according to Skilton.
Probiotics are just one part of the picture. And if a patient cannot tolerate any type of probiotic, its a red flag that a patient's immune system is not functioning properly. She has found fish oil, zinc, vitamin A, and colostrum to be of value in many cases. The latter, "is really good for restoring sIgA. Do this for a week or so before even trying probiotics. Plant-based medicnes like oregano oil, tea tree oil, or pau d'arco extract may be helfpul in ridding the GI tract of pathogenic yeast.
But Dr. Skilton stressed that these will do nothing to stimulate sIgA production, and chronic yeast infections are almost always associated with low IgA. These natural yeast-busters should never be used at the same time as S. A number of probiotic and prebiotic foods can aid the process of gut restoration. These foods, he notes, "throw gasoline on the fire" of a recovering intestinal system.
On the other hand, one should eat plenty of foods that promote the growth of healthy commensal organisms. O'Bryan recommends organic stewed apples, cooked until soft and shimmery, as one good option. Cooking apples, he explains, releases pectin -- a soluble fiber that provides fuel for beneficial bacteria.
The pectin present in stewed apples can also help to heal a damaged intestinal lining and seal off the tears in a leaky gut, preventing large food molecules from slipping through. Similarly, collagen helps to seal a leaky gut. O'Bryan also encourages patients recovering from antibiotic treatment to eat chicken bone broth, a good source of collagen, which also acts as a natural prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut. Butyrate -- a natural substance made in the intestine -- is another important player in gut bacteria restoration.
O'Bryan explains that the cells lining the inside of the gut reproduce rapidly and that butyrate fuels the rebuilding of new cells. Insufficient butyrate production and a slow turnover of intestinal cells make the body more vulnerable to the development of cancer cells, resulting in a higher risk of colon cancer.
An array of prebiotic fruits and vegetables, including foods bananas, sweet potatoes and other tubers help to rebuild the gut microbiome, providing insoluble fiber that feeds good -- but not harmful -- bacteria. Fermented, unpasteurized vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented beets, are another excellent source of natural probiotics. Sample Issue Login Subscribe Advertise. View Cart. But it takes more than just recommending an off-the-shelf probiotic and hoping for the best.
Dose, Timing Determine Impact As antibiotics kill off infection-causing microorganisms, they also non-selectively destroy communities of beneficial gut bacteria, weakening the stability of the intestinal microbiome. How to Restore the Flora Probiotics are one aspect in a comprehensive strategy to restore gut flora following antibiotics. A Comprehensive Approach Probiotics are just one part of the picture. All Rights Reserved.
6 Ways to Heal Gut Flora After Antibiotics
How do you manage these symptoms while your gut biome rebuilds itself? Antibiotics target all bacteria — the good ones and the bad. Back in the day, doctors used to think that a healthy body was a sterile body, and that our immune systems were constantly fighting the microbes we came in contact with. Once antibiotics were invented, millions of lives were saved as people were protected from bacterial infections.
While we want to always encourage a preventative approach when it comes to health and wellness, sometimes things catch us by surprise, and we come down with something much more insistent than the occasional virus or flu. For those times you have to take antibiotics, we want you to know there are ways of working through it with the best body support possible. As antibiotics kill infection-causing microorganisms in the body, they also take a wide indiscriminate swipe at the beneficial bacterial in your microbiome. Therefore, overuse of antibiotics and for an already taxed digestive system, even a single round has been seen to cause leaky-gut to manifest.
Does the Gut Microbiome Ever Fully Recover From Antibiotics?
As a country we take far too many antibiotics — an estimated 4 out of 5 of us will be prescribed antibiotics this year. Antibiotic-resistant strains are on the rise and complicating treatments. In , 50, people died from antibiotic-resistant pathogens in Europe and the US and this number is projected to reach 10 million per year in But for now, we can focus on minimizing our personal use. Through a better understanding of gut health, good nutrition, and fermented foods, we can avoid antibiotics most of the time. Much like an ecosystem, our gut is made up of hundreds of thousands of bacteria. Meaning our health is intricately entangled with the health of our gut microbiome. This is still up for debate, though antibiotics wreak havoc on our gut health by blasting through beneficial bacteria. However, that same study found certain species failed to recover even after six months. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing antibiotics, there are steps you can take before, during, and after to support your gut and minimize the impact.
Holistic Primary Care
Antibiotics eradicate pathogenic infections and save lives -- but in doing so, they also disrupt the integrity of the intestinal microbiome. While many physicians recognize the need for restoring a patient's microbial balance following a course of antibiotic therapy, far fewer understand how to do this effectively. According to Amie Skilton, ND, restoration of gut flora is both art and science. Done well, it can make a world of difference for patients.
Probiotics have been touted as a treatment for a huge range of conditions, from obesity to mental health problems. One of their popular uses is to replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. The logic is — antibiotics wipe out your gut bacteria along with the harmful bacteria that might be causing your infection, so a probiotic can help to restore order to your intestines.
How to Restore Gut Flora After Taking Antibiotics
Get the content you want anytime you want. A study detailed the benefits of Lactobacillus supplementation in infants in India, where treatment with the probiotic was found to significantly reduce sepsis deaths in low birth weight infants. Now, investigators from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel studying the human gut have authored 2 new papers regarding probiotics that were published on September 6, in the journal Cell.
Antibiotics are a type of medication that fight bacteria. They work either by killing bacteria or by stopping it from reproducing. Eating the right foods can help to prevent bothersome side effects and encourage healing. In this article, learn which foods to eat and which to avoid while taking antibiotics. A person has trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms living in their gut.
Foods to Restore Your Intestinal Flora
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. 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.
Last Updated on 19 Mar Antibiotics kill bacteria. But killing the bad guys responsible for your infection means you also kill good flora crucial for your health. How badly do antibiotics damage our gut flora?
The same infectious diseases that would have impaired or killed us in past generations are now easily halted through a simple course of antibiotic medication. One of their unfortunate side effects, however, is that antibiotic drugs are not selective in choosing which bacteria to kill. All the good bacterial colonies in the gut die along with the bad.
What are the consequences of taking antibiotics on your gut microbiome? Does the gut ever fully recover? Most gut bacteria recover quickly, but there can be long-lasting consequences from taking antibiotics.
If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works. Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more.