How Antibiotics Affect Your Gut Health
If you find that you must visit your doctor for an antibiotic prescription, you are not alone. Antibiotics are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. Yet, nearly 50% of antibiotics prescribed on an out-patient basis are unnecessary.
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for conditions that aren’t even associated with a bacterial infection. This includes the common cold and flu, which are viral infections. On top of that, the animals we eat, unless certified organic, are typically given antibiotics to prevent disease and to stimulate their growth. To make matters more tricky, antibiotics and gut health are not the best of friends.
In fact, there is a negative correlation between antibiotics and gut health. While antibiotics have saved millions of lives, excessive use and over-prescribing antibiotics can wreak havoc on your health. In this article, I’ll explain how antibiotics and gut health are related. Then we’ll cover how to restore your gut’s balance after antibiotic use.
Your Gut’s Thriving Ecosystem
Your gut is its own ecosystem. It’s home to 100 trillion microorganisms, including at least 400 different species of bacteria. These microbes in your gut play crucial roles in digestion, immunity, metabolism, and mood. Sixty to eighty percent of your immune system is located in your gut and ninety percent of your neurotransmitters — the chemical messengers that help regulate mood — are produced there.
In fact, the gut is often called the second brain due to its significant role in mood and mental health. Most of your serotonin, “the happy hormone,” is produced in your gut. Maintaining the right balance of bacteria and gut microbes is crucial for your overall health. Unfortunately, a course of antibiotics can disturb your gut’s equilibrium, which is why it’s so important to take probiotics after antibiotic use.
Antibiotics and Gut Health: What Goes Wrong?
Antibiotics work by blocking bacterial processes. They either kill the bacteria or stop them from multiplying. Unfortunately, antibiotics cannot tell the difference between the “bad” bacteria causing an infection and the “good” bacteria that belong in your gut. It’s the beginning of a bad relationship between antibiotics and gut health.
Antibiotics are like a blanket smothering both good and bacteria. They disrupt your gut’s delicate ecosystem, creating a state of imbalance. As the number of good bacteria in your gut decreases, you become susceptible to overgrowths of other organisms, including a yeast (or fungus) called Candida.
While a small amount of yeast is normal and necessary, Candida is opportunistic. If given the chance, it will grow and multiply quickly — especially when it’s fed sugar, carbohydrates, or alcohol. When yeast starts to multiply, it can damage the lining of your intestinal walls. This leads to increased intestinal permeability and what’s known as leaky gut.
Antibiotics, Leaky Gut, and Autoimmune Disease
A healthy small intestine keeps toxins and undigested food out of your bloodstream while allowing micronutrients to pass through. A small intestine that has become “leaky” allows microbes, toxins, partially digested food, and other particles to escape into your bloodstream.
When foreign substances enter your bloodstream via a leaky gut, your immune system flags them as invaders and begins to attack. Over time, this overwhelms your immune system, liver, and lymphatic system, causing inflammation. When your immune system remains on constant high alert dealing with invaders and chronic inflammation, it can become overwhelmed, leading to autoimmune disease.
This is why “Heal Your Gut” and the process of reversing leaky gut is the first pillar of The Myers Way®. Now let’s address how to support your gut during antibiotic use.
How to Defend Your Gut While Taking Antibiotics
If you do need to take antibiotics, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your gut. This includes taking antibiotics and probiotics on a rotating schedule.
1. Use a high-quality probiotic
Taking probiotics with antibiotics will help restore your gut’s population of good bacteria to maintain a healthy gut and immune system. To ensure you’re rebuilding a strong population of good bacteria, the best probiotic to take with antibiotics is one with a high number of colony-forming units (CFUs.)
My 100 Billion Probiotic is perfect for this. It contains the 14 most important probiotic strains. I made sure to include them in therapeutic quantities to provide optimal support for your gut health and immune function. Take your antibiotics two hours away from your probiotic so as not to damage the colony-forming units.
I recommend continuing probiotics after antibiotic use. You can take probiotics with a lower CFU count such as the 30 Billion Probiotic for general maintenance after you’ve restored balance in your gut.
2. Add Collagen and Leaky Gut Revive® to Your Routine
Collagen makes up the villi of your small intestine. Your villi are like tiny little fingers that grab nutrients and move them into your bloodstream. They vastly increase the surface area of your gut, making it easier for your body to absorb nutrients. Taking a collagen supplement will help repair your gut lining, nurture your villi, and ward off leaky gut.
Leaky Gut Revive® will help your gut cells repair and rejuvenate even faster. I recommend using the two hand-in-hand while taking antibiotics and probiotics.
How to Repair Your Gut If You Have Taken Antibiotics
Antibiotics and gut health can be tricky. If you took antibiotics in the past and disrupted your gut health, use the 4R approach to get the bacteria in balance.
1. Remove Candida Overgrowth
Antibiotics and a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol are key risk factors for developing yeast overgrowth. If you think you may have Candida overgrowth, take this quiz to find out.
To get your yeast population back under control, starve the yeast by eliminating risk factors, and take anti-fungal supplements. My complete Candida Breakthrough® Program includes meal plans, recipes, shopping lists, and supplements to help you beat yeast overgrowth and correlating health problems in 30 days.
2. Restore the Good
Restore essential nutrients for digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by antibiotics with probiotics and digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help you digest your food properly. They reduce the strain on your digestive system and help ensure that you receive the full nutritional benefit of your food.
3. Reinoculate Your Gut with Healthy Bacteria
As I said, taking probiotics with antibiotics will help to modulate the antibiotic-gut health dilemma. Probiotics are live bacteria strains that help repopulate the gut and restore bacterial balance. I recommend taking a concentrated, multi-strain probiotic to make sure your gut’s microbiome has adequate diversity.
Additionally, prebiotics will help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut by providing them with a food source. However, they feed yeast as well, so include these after you’ve treated any yeast overgrowth.
Prebiotics are available in supplement form, or you can up your intake of soluble fiber-rich foods. These include chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, onions, and apples.
4. Repair Your Gut Lining
Leaky Gut Revive® provides the nutrients to help your gut repair itself. It combines l-glutamine, an amino acid that rebuilds the mucosal lining of the gut, with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). I also included aloe vera, slippery elm, and marshmallow root which all support gut health.
In addition, collagen, the raw form of gelatin, is rich in glycine and proline. Most Americans don’t get enough of these amino acids because they are primarily found in the connective tissue and organs of animals, which are not part of our typical diet. Glycine and proline are not only good for your immune system, they help restore and repair damaged gut cells that cause leaky gut. It’s best to find collagen sourced from organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised animals such as the collagen powder I carry in my store.
5. Extra: Support Your Liver
Antibiotics and gut health are also related to liver health. Antibiotics can be taxing on the liver, so it’s beneficial to include supplements that support the detoxification process. Supplements with milk thistle, alpha-lipoic acid, and N-Acetyl Cysteine such as my Liver Support help detox and optimize liver function.