Maintaining a balance of good (probiotic) and bad (pathogenic) bacteria in the gut and keeping up the levels of friendly bacteria can prevent or relieve conditions such as bloating, excess gas, diarrhoea, constipation, help to avoid infection and yeast overgrowth, benefit skin diseases such as eczema, and strengthen the immune system.
But can you take probiotics with antibiotics?
30 or 40 years ago far fewer strains of probiotics had been developed, and yoghurt was one of the few ways of consuming live bacteria. But now, thanks to scientific advancement, we can take supplements that are far more powerful, effective for a range of conditions, easier to store, and much more convenient to take.
In those early days, yoghurt was mainly consumed because of its calcium and phosphorus content for strong bones and teeth, and as a healthier alternative to cream.
Then came the ‘bio’ yoghurts containing added live bacteria and some with added bran. Live yoghurt was recommended to help the good bacteria in the gut recover from their destruction by broad spectrum antibiotics, but only to be taken AFTER the course of antibiotics had been finished. The theory, quite rightly, was that antibiotics do not distinguish between probiotic and pathogenic bacteria… and in fact they end up killing off your body’s probiotics as well. Hence probiotic supplementation under these circumstances becomes futile.
However, if you wait for your course of antibiotics to finish, by the time you are ready to start the probiotics your body’s natural bacteria will have been upset for a period of time (most likely 5 to 7 days, often longer), and it is likely that you already have the side effects ! (such as thrush or diarrhoea) associated with this bacterial imbalance. These days nutritionists, doctors and pharmacists are beginning to appreciate that probiotics can indeed be taken with antibiotics- that is to say, the courses can be taken over the same period of time – simply not at exactly the same time of day.
The ideal is if you take your antibiotic in the morning, wait one hour for the antibiotic to have passed through your digestive system (naturally it will kill off some of your good flora too), then take a probiotic. This way you are replenishing your body’s natural probiotic bacteria on a daily basis. And you are not leaving your body with a bacterial imbalance for long enough to cause a stomach upset. Hey presto!
People taking antibiotics often suffer from their side effects such as tiredness, and diarrhoea (the so-called antibiotic-associated diarrhoea or AAD) which can affect 30% of people. On top of that, the bad bacteria can bounce back extremely quickly, and they themselves can cause diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and thrush (from yeast overgrowth). Restoring a healthy balance of bacteria as soon as possible will prevent bad bacteria from dominating the gut, and at the same time provide digestive health and reduce discomfort.
Supporting your body’s friendly bacteria is particularly important when on long-term antibiotics. Colonies of friendly bacteria are responsible for keeping levels of bad orpathogenic bacteria from increasing, and helping to remove waste products from the body. The more these beneficial bacteria become reduced in number the less able they are to carry out those essential functions. This can lead to a condition known as dysbiosis (a posh way of saying an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.) What people don’t appreciate is that not only can dysbiosis cause thrush and diarrhoea in the short term, but it can also be blamed for other digestive symptoms such as bloating and constipation, skin problems such as acne, a weakened immune system and/or fatigue.
So next time your doctor talks about antibiotics, make sure you think to take a probiotic!
OptiBac Probiotics is a UK company specialising entirely in probiotic supplements. These are all shelf-stable, well-researched, and unlike many probiotic yoghurts or yoghurt drinks, contain no nasty additives! What's more they make a specific probiotic for those on antibiotics.
Find out more at http://www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk Shipping is available anywhere worldwide.