3 Things You Should Do After Taking Antibiotics to Restore Healthy Intestinal Flora
We are very used to quick fixes these days, and we reach for antibiotics too readily at times. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but they don’t discriminate between the harmful and the beneficial ones. By eating a diet constituted of processed foods rich in sugars, and overloading our bodies with stress, we further destroy the natural balance in our gastrointestinal tract.
When we take antibiotics and other medication, we change the gut’s pH (acid/alkaline balance) and let the harmful bacteria take over. Usually, around 400 species of bacteria live side by side in your stomach and intestines – that’s more bacterial organisms than there are known stars is the sky. However, when the pH changes, yeasts, parasites, E. coli and similar harmful bacteria can hijack your body and cause conditions such as candidiasis (known to most modern women), leaky gut syndrome, allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), eczema, Crohn’s disease, to name a few. So it is extremely important to prevent that from happening, and to keep our digestive tract in a state of balance. This can be particularly challenging after a course of antibiotics.
•The first thing you need to do is to provide dietary support to the remaining beneficial bacteria. You do this by eating prebiotics, which are non-digestible fiber that stimulate the growth and/or activity of advantageous bacteria that colonize the large bowel. In other words, you need to eat lots of raw, preferably organic, vegetables and fruits. Some suggest that after taking antibiotics, your diet should comprise 80% of fruit and vegetables, priority given to vegetables.
•Second, avoid all processed sugars as they are food for yeast (such as candida) and bad bacteria. Even fruit that is high in sugar, and different healthier sugar varieties (honey, fruit juice) should be limited while you recover from antibiotics.
•Next, a healthy digestive system needs probiotics, also known as beneficial bacteria. They balance the gut and support its function by restoring healthy pH levels and fighting pathological bacteria. Very conveniently, fermented foods abound in beneficial lactic acid bacteria, which are the force behind fermentation. A cup of fizzy kefir, a helping of old-fashioned sauerkraut, a portion of natural yoghurt, will all provide a dose of probiotics that can go to work once they reach your gut. Other examples of fermented foods include kombucha, miso and tempeh. But be careful what you buy. It can be difficult to get your hands on food that has been fermented in the traditional way, and many supermarket-sold products undergo thermal processing which kills the good bacteria. So read the labels carefully, or you’ll be gulping down sugary yogurts and pasteurized pickles that can do you more harm than good. You can read more about fermented foods in my previous article. Eating fermented foods regularly is also one of the 70 habits featured in the e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.
To sum it up, after taking antibiotics, make sure you eat right, and avoid being naughty. Load up on greens and vegetables, skip processed sugars, and eat fermented foods galore. In this way you’ll repopulate your gut with good bacteria and restore your immune function. 70% of immune system sits in your digestive tract, so it’s definitely worth the effort!
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.