Probioticsantibiotics: The Bottom Line
Antibiotics are important against bacterial infections, but they can cause side effects, including long-term negative changes in the composition of your gut microbiome because they do not distinguish between health-promoting microbes and the ones causing illness.
Taking a probiotic supplement or eating probiotic foods may help mitigate immediate side effects, like diarrhoea, and they can help to get your gut microbiome back on track afterwards too.
Incorporating foods that are rich in fibre, as well as fermented foods containing live bacterial cultures, can enrich your microbiome with health-promoting bacteria that help restore this ecosystem to its former glory.
Its also good to know which foods and beverages to avoid when taking a course of antibiotics. Stay away from alcohol, grapefruit, and calcium-fortified foods to avoid any unnecessary harm from this medication.
You can check in on your gut microbes three months after taking antibiotics with the Atlas Microbiome Test. You’ll also receive personalised food recommendations to restore microbiome balance with your diet.
Take Probiotics During And After Treatment
Taking antibiotics can alter the gut microbiota, which can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhea, especially in children.
Fortunately, a number of studies have shown that taking probiotics, or live healthy bacteria, can reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea .
One review of 23 studies including nearly 400 children found that taking probiotics at the same time as antibiotics could reduce the risk of diarrhea by more than 50% .
A larger review of 82 studies including over 11,000 people found similar results in adults, as well as children .
These studies showed that Lactobacilli and Saccharomyces probiotics were particularly effective.
However, given that probiotics are usually bacteria themselves, they can also be killed by antibiotics if taken together. Thus, it is important to take antibiotics and probiotics a few hours apart.
Probiotics should also be taken after a course of antibiotics in order to restore some of the healthy bacteria in the intestines that may have been killed.
One study showed that probiotics can restore the microbiota to its original state after a disruptive event, such as taking antibiotics .
If taking probiotics after antibiotics, it may be better to take one that contains a mixture of different species of probiotics, rather than just one.
Side Effects Of Antibiotics
This sudden proliferation of bad bacteria and accompanying loss of the health-promoting good guys lead to a variety of antibiotic side effects, such as diarrhea, fungal and yeast infections, and inflammation all of which can open the door to a wide variety of serious health issues.
Thats because by weakening your bodys probiotic makeup, antibiotic use also weakens your immune defenses.
A staggering 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut where your probiotic bacteria work to regulate nearly every aspect of your immune function.
This also explains why its common for antibiotic use to lead to recurrent infections , and why many people find themselves in a downward spiral of sickness, a vicious cycle thats hard to break.
One side effect of repeated antibiotic administration is a Clostridium difficileinfection. C. difficile is an opportunistic pathogen that thrives in the carbohydrate-rich environment of a gut cleared of its good microbes .
C. difficile is a potentially fatal microbe that secretes toxins that lead to diarrhea, fever, and colon inflammation.
Even though Fleming himself warned us of the dangers of antibiotic overuse, were only recently connecting these dots and beginning to make changes to both our paradigm and our habits and the reason is twofold.
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Best Probiotics For Long
Its a good idea to look for research on the best probiotics when taking antibiotics long term if you are on longer courses of medication. If you need to take long term antibiotics, you may wish to consider choosing a supplement that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®. A supplement that contains this particular strain has been demonstrated in a randomised controlled trial to minimise disturbance to the composition of the gut microbiome when taken alongside antibiotics14. This can be useful when antibiotics are being taken for longer than two weeks. However, it is recommended to take this probiotic strain 2 hours away from an antibiotic, rather than at the exact same time.
Maintain Your Supplement Schedule Even If You Eat Probiotic Foods
One way to add probiotic bacteria to the gut is through diet. A number of fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchi, and Lacto-fermented sauerkraut, in addition to many types of yogurt, are rich in probiotics. However, as you can see in this chart, its difficult to eat enough fermented foods to get a therapeutic dose.
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Knowing The Answer Can Protect Your Gut
You may have wondered whether or not you should take probiotics after antibiotics. Perhaps youve read about this strategy or maybe your doctor recommended it. Either way, do you really know everything about the supplements youre taking? Should you even take them in supplement form, or is food better? Read on to learn more about probiotics and antibiotics.
The Best Way To Combine Probiotics With Antibiotics
If youre taking antibiotics, I highly recommend taking them with probiotics. In fact, researchers suggest that taking probiotics as early as possible with antibiotics is best for decreasing antibiotic side effects such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea [15
Here are some tips on how to get the most from your probiotic supplement when taking antibiotics.
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Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .
Taking Probiotics With Antibiotics Can Help
Although it may sound counterintuitive to take probiotic supplements while also taking probiotic-killing antibiotics, research shows that its beneficial to your gut health to fortify your system with the protective good guys.
In one recent review, patients taking probiotics during a course of antibiotics saw a whopping 60 percent reduction in the risk of contracting a C. difficile infection .
In another study, adults and children who took the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus during antibiotic treatment had a 10 percent less risk of contracting antibiotic-associated diarrhea .
Even in people who do experience diarrhea when taking broad-spectrum antibiotics, probiotic supplementation reduces the duration of symptoms by an entire day .
Probiotics may also help prevent widespread antibiotic resistance by ensuring that people take their full course of prescribed antibiotics.
Stopping a course of antibiotics early usually because of intolerable side effects increases the chances that some of the bad bacteria may survive and become resistant. By reducing or eliminating side effects, probiotics can make it much easier to stay the course .
Not too shabby for a bunch of microscopic friendly flora!
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How Often Should I Take Probiotics
Probiotics are a great way to keep your gut healthy and happy. A lot of people dont know how often they should be taking them, but the answer is actually pretty simple.
Its recommended that probiotic supplements be taken at least once per day with food or directly after eating.
Some experts suggest doubling up on doses so youre taking two pills in one sitting due to increased efficacy if eaten together rather than spaced apart by an hour as this will help replenish bacteria levels faster which could come from any number of sources such as travel stress or dietary changes like switching out dairy for soy-based products.
Morbidity And Mortality Are High
AAD is associated with several pathogens, including Clostridium difficile, Clostridium perfringens, Klebsiella oxytoca, and Staphylococcus aureus,2 and varies widely in severity. Pseudomembranous colitis secondary to C difficile is the main cause of AAD-related mortality, which more than doubled from 2002 to 2009.3,4C difficile infections cost the US health care system up to $1.3 billion annually.5 With such high rates of morbidity and mortality and high health care costs associated with AAD, even a small reduction in the number of cases would have a big impact.
Probiotics replenish the natural GI flora with nonpathogenic organisms. A 2006 meta-analysis of 31 randomized controlled trials assessing the efficacy of probiotics for both the prevention of AAD and treatment of C difficile found a pooled relative risk of 0.43 for AAD in the patients taking probiotics.6 However, many of the studies included in that meta-analysis were small. As a result, in 2010, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Infectious Diseases Society of America recommended against the use of probiotics for the prevention of primary C difficile infection, citing a lack of high-quality evidence.7
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Their Influence On The Gut Microbiome
Antibiotics kill both pathogenic and desirable bacteria, leading to an imbalance to the gut microbiome. As the bad bacteria and yeast begin to outnumber the beneficial bacteria, this is known as dysbiosis. It can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhea, infection-induced diarrhea, imbalances like Candida overgrowth, and even irritable bowel syndrome .
Antibiotics cause a found in the human microbiome. When you stop taking antibiotics, your microbiome will begin to recover, but it may take years. In fact, it may never be exactly as it once was.
The amount of harm that antibiotics can do to your gut microbiome depends on several factors the duration of regimen, whether you are using one antibiotic or more, the chemical action of the antibiotic, and the dosage. Some antibiotics are very potent, others are not as damaging to the human microbiome, but all have been implicated in the following conditions :
Choose The Right Probiotic For Your Health Condition
Not all probiotics are created equal. The combination of strains included in the probiotic supplement plays a critical role in determining its impact on a range of health outcomes.
Each probiotic strain performs a different function. Depending on what the probiotic is trying to accomplish, you will find different strains in the composition. Furthermore, several studies, including this powerful study by Visconti et al., have demonstrated that probiotic strains work in teams for optimal impact.
A high quality, science-based probiotic supplement will contain strains that are mindfully combined for optimal impact. At OMNi-BiOTiC®, our products are tailored to specific health conditions, rooted in 25 years of microbiome research and clinical studies to demonstrate efficacy. For example, OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release was specifically formulated for individuals with leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome.
In aclinical study with IBS patients, OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release demonstrated a reduction in symptom severity, improved bacterial diversity in the intestines, and a reduction in Zonulin, the main marker for leaky gut.
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Caveats: Limited Data On The Safety Of Probiotics Exist
There was some heterogeneity among the studies in the meta-analysis by Hempel et al, and some of the studies were of poor quality. Because of this, the authors used subgroup and sensitivity analysis, which supported their initial conclusion.
Probiotics have generally been considered safe however, there have been rare reports of sepsis and fungemia associated with probiotic use, especially in immunosuppressed patients.1 Fifty-nine of the included studies did not assess adverse events, which limited the ability of this meta-analysis to assess safety.1 Patients taking probiotics should be monitored for adverse effects.
Why You Might Need To Take Probiotics Every Day
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut. You need them to help break down food and provide nutrients for optimal digestion, immunity, and general health.
Theyre also useful if you have an antibiotic-related digestive issue or a vaginal infection since they can get rid of bad bacteria while maintaining healthy ones. The question is: do you really need to take a probiotic every day?
The answer is it depends on whats going on with your body. If you have diarrhea caused by some sort of infection then yes!
Taking a probiotic every day will help restore balance to your gut flora so it can heal itself faster than without any intervention at all.
But if you dont have an infection and just want more energy, clearer skin or to lose weight, you can take a proprietary blend of probiotics without any side effects.
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Take Probiotics At A Convenient Time
Some would recommend taking probiotics at least two hours before or after antibiotics to reduce the potential for the antibiotic to kill the probiotic you just took. You can do this if you want, but if that makes your medication schedule too complicated, just take them together. Youre better off taking them together than not at all.
Why Would I Take Probitics With Antibiotics
If antibiotics are killing bacteria in our bodies and gut, is it pointless to take probiotics when you are taking antibiotics? Are they just being killed off? Are you wasting your money? Not necessarily. Itâs important to your overall health to keep as much âgoodâ bacteria in your gut as possible. Increasing the amount of probiotics you are taking while taking antibiotics can be a good thing. The health of our gut directly correlates to the health of our body. Additionally, antibiotics have been known to cause severe gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. Putting good bacteria in to replace the good bacteria that were attacked is important. Another benefit of probiotics is helping to prevent and treat yeast infections, which many develop while taking antibiotics since the good bacteria is attacked.
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When Should You Take Probiotics During Antibiotic Therapy
Can you take probiotics and antibiotics at the precisely same time? Or, should you take probiotics before or after antibiotics? Probiotics are considered as safe supplements can bring many health benefits, but when you take them combined with antibiotics, please do not take these two products simultaneously to get the best result.
Following four tips below, you can take probiotics and antibioticsmost powerfully.
- Give antibiotics the spacing
Taking probiotics and antibiotics at the same time can cause interaction between them. Thus, to prevent the interaction between two these products, the general recommendation is to take probiotics two hours before or after taking your antibiotics. This spacing gives antibiotics sufficient time to pass through our intestines and move into the bloodstream. Thus by the time you take probiotics, your gut becomes friendly again and does not destroy the friendly bacteria.
- Choose the most appropriate probiotic products
Because the safety of probiotics, if you are not combating the infection, you can also supply probiotics everyday. However, it is necessary for you to consume it in case you are on antibiotic treatment.
A high-quality formula, including the familiar and common bacteria families like Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and an enteric-coat formula that ensures the survival of live bacteria through the acid environment into your digestive tract are highly recommended.
- Do not stop taking probiotics after completing antibiotic therapy
How Are Probiotics Regulated In The United States
Government regulation of probiotics in the United States is complex. Depending on a probiotic productâs intended use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might regulate it as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug.
Many probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which donât require FDA approval before they are marketed. Dietary supplement labels may make claims about how the product affects the structure or function of the body without FDA approval, but they arenât allowed to make health claims, such as saying the supplement lowers your risk of getting a disease, without the FDAâs consent.
If a probiotic is going to be marketed as a drug for treatment of a disease or disorder, it has to meet stricter requirements. It must be proven safe and effective for its intended use through clinical trials and be approved by the FDA before it can be sold.
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Do Prebiotics Help Return The Gut Microbiome To Normal
Prebiotics are foods for probiotics and include fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, cereals.
Mixing prebiotics with probiotics, such as yogurt with fruit and cereal or sauerkraut with a vegetable stir fry could be helpful for your gut, although there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Good prebiotic foods include vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onions, and any green vegetable fruits such as bananas, berries, and tomatoes herbs such as chicory or garlic grains like barley, oat, and wheat and other fibers such as inulin that may be available on its own or added to foods such as granola bars, cereal, and yogurt.
Taking Probiotics With Antibiotics Is Beneficial
Taking probiotics is a simple and highly effective way to improve your health outcomes when you need to take antibiotics.
Probiotics can not only help antibiotics be more effective at clearing an infection, but they can significantly reduce the incidence of undesirable side effects of antibiotics, most commonly diarrhea and gut dysbiosis.
In order to have the most beneficial effects with your antibiotic treatment, follow these simple steps to adding a probiotic:
- Start a high-quality probiotic as soon as you start antibiotics.
- Take the probiotics for about three to four weeks, and once your gut is doing well and you are not having gastrointestinal symptoms, keep on the probiotics for another month to allow your gut to get used to its new microbiome. Weve found this timeframe to be the most effective with our patients.
- After a month, you can decrease the dose to find your minimal effective dose for your optimal health outcomes.
We hope that this article helps you maintain a good gut balance and feel well during your course of antibiotic treatment and after.
If you have been struggling with the effects of taking antibiotics, especially if you have had repeated or long-term antibiotic treatment and would like individualized help, please contact our clinic.
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