Probiotics vs Antibiotics

Probiotics vs Antibiotics

  • Photo of probiotic foods in bowls

Most people think of infections and illness when they think of bacteria, but not all bacteria are bad. The gut, or large intestine, is home to millions of good bacteria, as well as fungi and other microorganisms that grow there naturally. Good gut bacteria are very important to our health. Among other things, they help with our digestion and support our immune system.  

Antibiotics And Stomach Upset

When we take antibiotics to kill bad bacteria, good bacteria are also killed. This means that every time we take an antibiotic, the balance of microorganisms in the gut changes. This can give us diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms. Some studies indicate that “probiotics” can help decrease these symptoms. Prescribing an antibiotic? Pair it with probiotics (nih.gov)

Getting the Most Out of Probiotics

“Probiotics” are sources of good gut bacteria and yeast that can be found in supplements and in certain types of foods that contain them naturally. Probiotic foods include yogurt, uncooked sour pickles, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha, or fermented tea.  

When we consume probiotics, not all of them make it into our gut. They can be lost during the digestive process, or killed by any antibiotics we are taking. For this reason, it’s best to take them two or three hours apart from when we take an antibiotic.  

Since probiotics are living microorganisms, they can be killed by food processing. When shopping for foods that contain probiotics, be sure to check for a label that says “live and active cultures”.  

Prebiotics Boost Gut Health

After you finish taking an antibiotic, it can take a while to re-establish the balance of microorganisms in your gut. Consuming “prebiotics” may help speed this process up by giving good gut bacteria a boost.  

“Prebiotics” are foods that nourish the good microorganisms in our gut. Most of them are found in high fiber foods such as nuts, seeds, beans and high fiber fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, high fiber foods can also affect the body’s ability to absorb antibiotics. This is why it’s best to add extra to our diet after we have finished taking our antibiotic.