Image: Michael Mortensen
‘Tis the season to come down with a sinus infection, strep throat, earache or, worst of all, the flu. This time of year it seems illness is almost unavoidable, and when you take the inevitable trip to the doctor’s office to treat your ailment, you’ll often receive a prescription for antibiotics. For years, people filled these prescriptions without question, but new research is showing that taking an antibiotic may have some unintended side effects on your gut.
Luckily many of these side effects can be countered by taking prebiotics, which help to balance out your intestinal flora. Read on to find out what impact antibiotics can have on your gut and how to counteract it.
Taking the Good With the Bad
There are multiple trillion bacteria, or gut flora, living in the gut. When you ingest an antibiotic, the drug can change the makeup of these bacteria or even wipe some of them out entirely. Since gut flora are responsible for digesting B and K vitamins and producing amino and fatty acids, this is problematic. Because of this, taking antibiotics may lead to diarrhea or anemia, as well as other side effects of not producing enough “good” bacteria in the gut.
Counteracting the Antibiotics
Not surprisingly, there’s now a lot of interest in discovering how to counteract the impact of antibiotics on your gut. Fecal implants, which involve a healthy person’s gut flora being transplanted into an unhealthy gut, are the most extreme ways to deal with the problem. A better, and less involved, a solution is to balance the damage done by antibiotics with a prebiotic supplement, such as Prebiotin.
Prebiotics are non-active cultures that encourage the flora in your gut to grow. They provide food for the good bacteria, and the regrowth triggered by the prebiotics can help to restore the natural state of your gut.
Are Antibiotics Worth It?
Of course, all the seemingly negative side effects of antibiotics have also prompted the question of whether these drugs are worth taking. The answer may differ depending on your situation. If you have a mild illness, such as a cold or sinus infection, it may be better to let the illness run its course rather than interfere with the natural balance in your digestive tract. However, if you are suffering from a more severe sickness, such as strep throat, it may be in your best interest to take the antibiotic. Just be sure to take a prebiotic to protect you from gut distress.