For many of us, antibiotics seem like an unavoidable fact of life. This often-prescribed medicine helps stop infections caused by bacteria.
There’s that bubble-gum-tasting antibiotic your toddler takes for a raging ear infection. And when strep throat comes knocking, a course of antibiotics can quickly slam the door.
Also, let’s not forget antibiotics’ lifesaving applications, such as treating meningitis and bacterial pneumonia.
The discovery of the antibiotic penicillin in 1928 is regarded as one of the most significant advances in therapeutic medicine. Before this landmark discovery, surgery was extremely risky, and many people died from minor bacterial infections. Importantly, penicillin greatly reduced the number of deaths and amputations of troops during World War II.
So, yes, antibiotics certainly have their place. However, their use can be accompanied by potentially serious side effects because they kill off the good bacteria in your gut.
Your Gut on Antibiotics
Let’s take a minute for a microbiome refresher. Our bodies are home to roughly 40 trillion microbes, most of which are in our gut.
These good and bad guys can impact everything from food digestion to how we defend ourselves against outside illness-causing threats, such as viruses, parasites, and bacteria.
Various medical treatments, especially antibiotics, can disrupt this delicate gut balance. Mounting research supports how important our microbiome is and how common antibiotics can slay certain helpful gut bacteria.
A Delicate Balance
In a recent study, researchers unraveled how 144 antibiotics used in humans impact our gut health. They found that two classes of antibiotics create “collateral” damage by eradicating good bacteria in the gut, leaving it open to GI ailments and recurring infections.
“Many antibiotics inhibit the growth of various pathogenic bacteria,” study author Lisa Maier explains. “This broad activity spectrum is useful when treating infections, but it increases the risk that the microbes in our gut are targeted as well.”
This highlights the importance of reducing potential unwanted side effects that occur during a course of antibiotics.
How to Restore Balance
On a final note, not all illnesses require antibiotics. For instance, two of the most common ailments – cold and flu – don’t respond to antibiotics.
Although commonly overprescribed, an occasional course of antibiotics is sometimes necessary; but chances are your gut will not love the experience.
But have no fear; we have a guide to help you support your gut health during and after a course of antibiotics.
Our free EBOOK download includes the fascinating (and moldy!) history of antibiotics, as well as actionable tips, a post-antibiotic gameplan, and helpful printable tools to help you get your gut back into balance post antibiotic treatment.