There’s a hefty price to pay for using antibiotics. They kill pathogens, but they also kill beneficial intestinal bacteria and allow harmful microbes to proliferate. Even one course of antibiotics can alter the unique community of microbes living in your intestines (your “biome”) and do permanent damage. Herbal antimicrobials may be a better choice, but even these have not been proved to be totally benign.
But what if you need to take an antibiotic? Are you doomed to suffer the hundreds of diseases that have been associated with a deranged biome? Not if you take the right precautions.
Many studies have shown that taking probiotics (beneficial bacteria) along with antibiotics helps to preserve your biome’s integrity. Antibiotics are prescribed to be taken once, twice, or three times daily. A probiotic product, such as Beyond Health’s Probiotic Formula, can be taken 2-3 hours after each antibiotic dose.
It is critical that you choose an effective probiotic product—one that delivers healthy, viable beneficial bacteria to your gut. Unfortunately most probiotic products don’t do this. At Beyond Health, we have taken special precautions to ensure that the 10 different strains of beneficial bacteria in our Probiotic Formula arrive in your gut potent and healthy.
When you finish your course of antibiotics, continue to take probiotics for at least several weeks. Many people take them their entire lives, and this has a precedent throughout human history. Fermented foods supplying beneficial bacteria have been a feature of just about every traditional cuisine. Folk wisdom understood that good gut bacteria are essential to robust health.
You can further support good intestinal health by emulating our ancestors and consuming the cultured (fermented) foods that have recently become available again, such as raw sauerkraut (it must be raw, or the beneficial bacteria will have been killed off) and other cultured vegetables as well as drinks like beet kvass. (Yogurt has traditionally been a good source of probiotics, but unfortunately we have yet to find a commercially available yogurt we can recommend.)
Another highly effective way to promote a healthy biome is consuming prebiotic fibers which act as food for the probiotics. Most Americans get about 15 grams of fiber a day in their diets; we recommend aiming for 35-40 grams. Use our “Fiber Sources” hand-out to estimate your fiber intake. Beyond Health’s Dietary Fiber Formula provides 7 grams of highly beneficial soluble fibers per serving.
If you’ve been eating a low-fiber diet, start building up your fiber intake gradually, well before you plan to take any antibiotics. Drink 8 glasses of water daily, and add about 5 grams of fiber a day for a week; another 5 grams the following week and so on. It takes time for the gut bacteria to adjust to more fiber. Even with gradual change you may experience some gas, bloating, even cramping or constipation.
The road to health is paved with good intestines! Take care of your intestinal bacteria and your body will thank you with the gift of good health.