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Antibiotics
6 Minutes

How to: Help your/your child’s body recovery post antibiotics

We have steadily realised over the last few years that overuse of antibiotics can do more harm than good. However, they are still lifesaving and necessary when used in the right context. (Click here for more from our resident expert paediatrician about what constitutes the ‘right’ context). Unfortunately, they don’t come ‘for free’ and not only kill the bad bacteria we don’t want, they attack the good bacteria that we so badly need for hormone health, brain development and immunity. Amongst many other things. The good news is that there are ways we can help these good bacteria recover. Keep reading for the ‘how to’ restore your microbiomes (yes, we have more than one!) to full health. 

So why is it so important to give the body a helping hand post a dose of antibiotics? 

One of the biggest discoveries over the last few decades has been the role that the microbiome (the collection of bacteria, fungi and viruses) that live in colonies within our body. They include places like the skin, the gut and the reproductive organs. Evidence is gathering that these colonies have significant influence over our key bodily functions. Specifically hormonal balance, conception, nutrient availability, immunity, our mood and even brain development in small people. Keeping these colonies ‘balanced’ and in harmony is crucial. Click here to really geek out on the science behind this. 

How antibiotics can tip us off balance…

Similarly, antibiotics have been a huge breakthrough for the human race. They have proven themselves as major life extenders and protect us from serious bacterial infections. The trouble is that over time they have been overused which leads to resistance. On top of that, too much use can destabilise your body and compromise your immune system further. Ironically making you more susceptible to further infection. The principal reason being that not only do they kill the bacteria we don’t want, they kill the ones we do want and this can disrupt the harmony in our microbiomes. Leading to imbalance and problems.

The gut microbiome and reproductive microbiomes:

The microbiome in the gut is the best known. It is also home to the immune system. Containing nearly 70% of it. Plus, it produces neurotransmitters such as the feel good ‘Serotonin’ as well as helping with processing of hormones like Estrogen. Click here for more. 

The key for a healthy gut microbiome, given our understanding thus far, is that we want diversity and no major imbalance. Essentially an ecosystem that balances itself. Controlling growth of undesirables like the fungi Candida for example. A common consequence of our modern lifestyles and imbalances.

The reproductive microbiome is a growing area for research. Imbalances here look very different from those that can occur in the gut. However, they too can have significant consequences. Here you want as little diversity as possible and majority Lactobacillus bacteria. Imbalances here have been linked to Endometriosis, implantation issues, miscarriage and preterm birth. Click here for much more. 

Our microbiome during pregnancy and birth matters: 

We know that the foundations for a new person’s microbiome (key for immunity and development – click here for more) are from the mother. So, ensuring yours is in good shape during pregnancy and birth is ideal. The baby’s first bacterial colonies will come from your birth canal, breastmilk and your skin. Click here for much more. 

So how can we give these microbiomes a helping hand post antibiotics? 

The good news is that even if we give our microbiomes a blast with antibiotics, we can help them recover by focusing on the good things they need.

You are what you eat: 

Research suggests that you can influence the microbiome in as little as 24 hours by what you eat. At this stage this looks to be a very effective way of giving a helping hand. Specifically, research shows that the Mediterranean diet is the best approach. Focusing on a wide variety of fresh, whole fruit and vegetables, fatty fish and full fat dairy and olive oil. We know the diversity of ‘real’ food within the diet is key. Click here for much more. 

Pre and Probiotic foods for antibiotic recovery: 

Probiotic foods have become much more popular these days. What are they? They are usually fermented foods that provide a source of beneficial bacteria. Click here for more. 

Think things like Sauerkraut, Kefir, Pickles etc.

Then you have Prebiotic foods. Click here for the real detail on these but essentially these feed the existing bacteria we already have. These are somewhat the unsung heroes. They help predigest your food releasing hard to digest nutrients. Essentially increasing nutrient bioavailability. They also boost Short Chain Fatty Acids important for fighting inflammation. Click here for more on them. 

You can find them in foods like tomatoes, banana, berries, onions, green vegetables, lentils, artichoke, asparagus, garlic, chicory, legumes, oats and barley. You can also buy Inulin supplements. Although as always with supplements discuss with your doctor first and start slow

What about probiotic supplements? 

We are typically cautious around supplements. Click here for more. Particularly generic OTC probiotic supplements which have boomed in popularity. The industry remains unregulated and the current research suggests the success of them is hit and miss. Click here for much more. 

However, targeted strains and supplements can be useful in the right context and setting. For example, there is research around Lactobacillus supplements for the reproductive microbiome for restoring ‘balance’. Click here for more. This is worth a discussion with your doctor. Particularly if you’re concerned following a course of antibiotics.

Click here for microbiome expert Dr Natasha Campbell Mc-Bride’s recommendations. 

Speaking of which: is meat stock the way post antibiotics?! 

One of the pioneers in the field of the microbiome is Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride. Click here to read her interview/listen to her podcast episode in full.  

One of her favourite techniques for helping build a healthy microbiome is meat stock. Which contains key amino acids to support the gut wall as well as beneficial bacteria. It is super easy to make and you can add it to other foods/soups/sauces to add a nice flavour. Obviously not for the veggies out there but click here to learn more. 

So, conclusion? 

It’s not the end of the world if you have to take antibiotics. In fact, if your doctor has told you thats the way to go then it is often supremely necessary! The key is to provide a bit of extra support to the microbiomes in your body following. Stress reduction is another as well as avoiding toxins as much as possible. Aside from that real research exists around the benefits of a diverse Mediterranean diet, pre and probiotic foods, selected supplements where you have taken advice, moderate exercise and meat stock for those that eat animal products. Science is increasingly recognising the benefits for you/your baby or future baby for protecting these important colonies. Click below for some kiddy friendly ways to do it too.

Gut boosting breakfast smoothie

Gut boosting banana bread

Lentil Chips

How to use meat stock in a tasty/toddler friendly way. 

References: in links. 

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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