We are outnumbered 10 to one by bacteria.
We have about 10 trillion human cells and there are about one-hundred trillion bacteria that live in us and all over our skin. They have profound effects on our physiology and as a result, research in this area has exploded in the last decade.
Antibiotics were discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1929 when he noticed that a fungus produces a substance (Penicillin) that kills bacteria. The term “antibiotic” literally means “against life,” however, antibiotics have also saved countless lives since their use in medicine.
Unfortunately, there are two main issues associated with antibiotics. First, they are overprescribed which both prevents people’s immune systems from developing immunity and can lead to antibiotic resistance. Second, when they are prescribed, people are not told what to do to mitigate some of their damaging side effects.
Antibiotics kill all bacteria, not just the pathogenic bacteria, leaving healthy gut flora altered two years after discontinuing antibiotics.
I believe the following information should accompany every single prescription of antibiotics:
Probiotics can actually be taken during and after antibiotic therapy to prevent side effects. Probiotics that you can take during antibiotic therapy are Saccharomyces Boulardii, VSL#3, and Lactobacillus GG. These specific probiotics have been shown to have beneficial effects during therapy. After the course of antibiotics, a good multi-strain probiotic is recommended to reinoculate the gut.
2. Probiotic-Containing Foods
Probiotic supplements are a great way to get a therapeutic dose of good bacteria. It’s best however, to use both supplements and fermented foods as a long-term plan. Include the following foods in your diet to reinoculate the gut daily:
- Kombucha (it shouldn’t taste sweet)
- Pickles (vinegar-free)
- Homemade fermented vegetables
3. Heal the Gut
The good bacteria that line the digestive tract are critical for protecting our digestive cells from damage. One of the side effects of antibiotics that isn’t commonly recognized by the medical community is leaky gut syndrome. These are a few of the essential supplements that are critical for repairing a damaged gut:
- L-Glutamine – an amino acid that is the primary fuel for digestive cells and greatly decreases intestinal permeability.
- Zinc – a mineral that increases gut integrity and aids in its repair.
- Vitamin D – which enhances tight junctions, the bonds that hold digestive cells together. It acts like your arms during the game “red-rover.”
A few simple preventative measures can prevent a whole lot of unwanted side effects.
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Apprentice Editor: Ola Weber / Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Tom Vargo via Wikimedia