Do Antibiotics Impact Gut Diversity?
Written by: Jen Cox - AdvDip NAT + WHM. @keeperandkin
The gut microbiome (AKA your community of tiny organisms on the inside) is really important for health. We know this because research has shown us over and over again… with links made between loads of health conditions and the state of your gut. So what happens when we take antibiotics? Well... sh!t can, apparently.
When on a course of antibiotics, your microbiome becomes collateral damage. This often presents as digestive upsets like bloating or diarrhoea (yay!)
The evidence for longer term consequences is still being researched, but it looks like a single course of antibiotics may change the composition of your microbiome for anything from 6 months (with some strains still not having recovered in this time) according to one source, all the way up to an entire year minimum, according to another. Yikes! When it comes to kids, the research is still underway too, although there’s evidence that early use of antibiotics might impact illness presentation throughout their lives and even as grown ups.
While our beneficial bacteria are damaged by antibiotics, if you do need to take a course please don’t feel stressed or guilty. Antibiotics are absolutely necessary in certain situations! Remember - your microbiome is stable, but not static. Change is possible. We recommend approaching the situation with these two clever tricks:
- First, do your best to stick to the prescription by not skipping or delaying any doses as this will minimise the likelihood that you will need an additional course. If you are taking a probiotic supplement, aim to do this away from your medication if possible.
- Next, work on protecting your immune system and repopulating the gut with our Gut Diversity Checklist, below.
GUT DIVERSITY CHECKLIST
Take a good quality, broad spectrum probiotic supplement. Go for lots of different strains in the one mix to encourage a diverse environment.
Meet your minimums. Did you know that 4 out of 5 Aussie adults don't meet their minimum fruit and vegetable requirements per day? Give your microbiome a running start by smashing this goal with at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 of vegetables every. single. Day.
Aim for 30 different types of plant per week. Research from a widespread US Study found that people who did this had more diversity amongst their gut bacteria. Try to include wholegrains, veggies, fruit and nuts/seeds and try new and in season options when you see them. Variety is the spice of health!
Eat plenty of prebiotics. It’s great to replace lost probiotics, but we also need to feed them. Choose a support product like Nourishing Reds to do this and eat plenty of insoluble fibre for a friendly internal dinner party your microbiome will love.
Stay Hydrated. Drinking plenty of water nourishes the protective mucosal layer in your gut. This study also found that water transportation in your digestive system is important for proper probiotic colonisation, so aim for 1L of quality H2O per 22kgs of body weight.
Want some structure for better gut diversity, long term? Try our FREE 28 Day Wellness Challenge, here