How to Take Antibiotics with Probiotics
Antibiotics kill bad and good bacteria alike, so it is a good idea to supplement with probiotics if you have been advised by your doctor to take a round of antibiotics. You can modify your diet to get more probiotics, but there are supplements that may be helpful as well. Always make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and let him or her know about any supplements or other medications you are taking.
Know when antibiotics may be useful.if you have or think you have a bacterial infection such as pneumonia, an upper respiratory infection (URI), cellulitis, strep throat, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or a Salmonella infection, you may need to take antibiotics.
- Keep in mind that antibiotics are useless for viral diseases like the common cold or the flu. Call your doctor to determine whether you have a viral or a bacterial infection.
Be aware of potential side effects.Side effects of antibiotics include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, skin rashes, and appetite loss. Antibiotic use may also result in liver damage, anemia, headaches, dizziness, and sensitivity to light.These side effects may be related to killing off normal gut, skin, and mouth bacteria.
- One of the most dangerous side effects of many antibiotics is called pseudomembranous colitis, an inflammation and/or infections of the colon with Clostridium difficile (C diff) that results in dehydration, bloody and pus-filled diarrhea, and abdominal pain. This side effect may begin within a day or two of starting your antibiotic treatment or up to several weeks after you stop taking the antibiotics.
Follow your doctor’s instructions.If your doctor has prescribed antibiotics to combat a bacterial infection, then you should follow his or her instructions for taking the medication. Do not stop taking the medication without consulting your doctor first.
- Make sure that you take the full cycle of pills. Even if you being to feel better before you have finished taking the full cycle of medication, you should not stop taking the antibiotics until they are all gone. Not completing the cycle may cause the infection to come back or may make it harder to fight another infection in the future.
Increasing Healthy Bacteria with Diet
Include foods that support gut bacteria, also known as prebiotics.Prebiotics contain a type of soluble fiber that bacteria can digest. Prebiotics often contain inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are present in many prebiotic supplements as well. Eat one type of prebiotic food every day and you should get enough prebiotics in your diet without the need to use supplements. Foods that are high in prebiotics include:
- Chicory root
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Dandelion greens
- Wheat bran
- Baked wheat flour bread
Eat more vegetables.You should eat vegetables every day, especially leafy green vegetables. These vegetables support the growth of healthy bacteria. They contain substances that bacteria use to produce anti-inflammatory substances and may even help prevent cancer. Include cruciferous vegetables such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
- Greens from mustard, collard, beet, and turnip plants
Eat more beans.Beans contain lots of fiber, but they also release short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These SCFA strengthen and support gut bacteria. The SCFA also support the lining of your gut and improve the absorption of many nutrients. They may also help with weight loss.Include beans in your meals three to four times a week at a minimum.
Include prebiotic foods that also contain probiotics.Some types of foods contain prebiotics and probiotics. Try to get four to six servings of these foods every week. These foods include:
- Aged cheeses such as Roquefort, Bleu, Brie, Feta and Gruyére.
- Curtido (a fermented salsa)
- Pickles fermented in brine
Avoid foods that can harm the gut bacteria.Diets high in certain types of foods can harm the gut bacteria and alter the numbers and types of bacteria in the gut. Evidence is growing that this sort of alteration of the gut bacteria, often called dysbiosis, may lead to all sorts of health issues.Foods to avoid include:
- Animal fat
- Antibiotic-fed meat and poultry
- Processed and packaged foods that include additives, preservatives, and sugar
Taking Probiotic Supplements
Read the label to check for certain ingredients and features.If you do decide to try a supplement, make certain the probiotic contains many different strains of bacteria. Some strains to look for includeL. acidophilus,L. Fermentum,L. rhamnosus,B. longum, andB. bifidum. Some products also include a yeast,Saccharomyces, which helps protect gut bacteria.
- Make sure that the supplement has at least 25 billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs). If you are looking for a prebiotic supplement that contains inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), then the supplements should also contain galactooligosaccharides, or GOS.
- Opt for controlled-release forms. Stomach acid can kill probiotic bacteria, so it is best to choose a probiotic that dissolves after it has passed through the stomach. This will help to ensure that the probiotics will be able to thrive in your digestive tract.
Check the label for other important information.Make sure that you check the label for an expiration date and also look for a “USP Verified” seal. The USP seal indicates that a non-profit lab, the USP, has checked the product and found that the bacteria and other ingredients listed on the label is what is actually in the bottle. Some other things to look for include:
- Company name and contact information
- The recommended dose
Take the supplements as directed.Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on any supplement that you are taking. You can also ask your physician for advice. Since it may take a while for your body to rebalance the bacteria after you finish a round of antibiotics, it is a good idea to use probiotics for a month after you are finished taking the antibiotics.
Video: 8 Health Benefits of Probiotics
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