How antibiotics affect your gut flora

Maintaining a healthy and balanced gut flora is important for several of our bodily functions, like our immune system. But the balance in the gut flora can easily be upset by external factors. One of these is taking antibiotics, which can cause problems both during and after the treatment. In this article, we’ll discuss the effects antibiotics can have on our gut flora and how to take care of the bacteria in our gut when you take a course of antibiotics. 

Gut flora wiped out by antibiotics 

In normal cases, an adult’s gut flora stays relatively stable throughout their life, but there are several factors in western lifestyles that can cause both temporary and long-term problems in the gut flora. Some examples of these are an unhealthy diet (too much processed food and too little fibre), longer periods of heightened stress, as well as antibiotic treatments. 

Antibiotics are usually given for different types of infections, where the job of the antibiotics is to kill off the bad bacteria that caused the infection. At the same time as the antibiotics are killing the bad bacteria, a large proportion of the good bacteria in the gut are hit. This causes an imbalance in the gut flora, which in turn makes it possible for bad bacteria, microfungi, and other damaging organisms to get into the gut. 

90 percent of your gut flora can be wiped out 

A normal course of antibiotics can wipe out as much as 90 percent of your gut flora and it can, in the worst case, take several months, possibly even years, to recover. Common problems of an imbalanced gut flora are diarrhoea, urinary infections, fungal infections and general over-sensitivity towards both infections and different types of food. 

How much the gut flora is affected depends on the type of antibiotics used. Antibiotics with a small spectrum are targeted towards a specific bacteria, meaning they have a milder effect on gut bacteria. Antibiotics with a broad spectrum, however, are effective against several types of bacteria and therefore have a more powerful effect on your gut flora. 

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Replace your gut flora after a course of antibiotics 

A standard recommendation with a treatment of antibiotics is to supplement good bacteria to compensate for the negative effect on the gut flora. It’s also important to supplement fibres (prebiotics), as it functions as food for the good bacteria. This can be done to some degree by adjusting your diet but also with synbiotic supplements that combine good bacteria and fibre. 

Good bacteria can be added to your diet before, during and after a course of antibiotics. With an ongoing treatment, however, it’s important to wait until at least two hours after you’ve taken your antibiotics before taking good bacteria to ensure the effect isn’t cancelled out. 

Prevention with fibre 

Eating a diet rich in plant fibre is great for your gut flora. First and foremost, soluble fibre acts as prebiotics, this means it acts as food for the gut bacteria. This fibre is found in different types of plant foods such as asparagus, root vegetables, onions, fruits, and berries, for example. Non-soluble fibres, however, are mostly found in different cereals and can be harder for the body to handle in relation to antibiotics courses when the stomach is extra-sensitive. 

If you’ve previously been used to eating food that’s low in fibre, the stomach can react to an increased amount of fibre, regardless of whether it comes in the form of food or supplements. Therefore, it can be good to increase the intake of fibre gradually. If you know a course of antibiotics is on the way in the near future, for example with a planned surgery, it’s good to begin a bit before with this to slowly adjust your body.

A supplement for your gut health

Want more energy and less bloating? It might be time to take better care of your gut. To strengthen or restore the balance in your gut flora, it's important you feed your gut with a daily dose of pre- and probiotics. A healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is usually sufficient. If you want an extra boost or make sure you get a daily dose of good bacteria, you can complement your diet with a supplement.

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A daily dose of Synbiotic15 helps to boost your immune system, improve your digestion, prevent inflammation, strengthen your gut flora, improve your skin and take care of simple stomach problems. It's a powdered mix of 4 patented lactic acid bacteria and 4 grams of prebiotic fibres, which act as food for the good bacteria. Based on over 15 years of research, developed in Sweden and 100% natural.

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