Antibiotics? Take probiotics

If you’ve had antibiotics lately, the right probiotic supplement can help you fix your side effects.  A probiotic will counter your antibiotic’s negative effects – if taken during and after the course of antibiotics, in high enough doses with the right bacteria strains.

This can help you stop:

  • Tummy upsets like constipation, bloating, diarrhea and nausea;
  • Thrush and fungal infections;
  • A resultant lowered resistance to infection.

 

While many doctors prescribe a probiotic with your antibiotic, usage directions are often scant and even misleading.  Is the one you get effective? Are you using it correctly?  

 

When do you need a probiotic?

You need a probiotic while still on antibiotics, and afterwards for at least 3 weeks.  You also need substantial doses and a minimum set of strains to counteract the sterility that multiple milder antibiotics or a strong antibiotic will induce.  

Why do we need probiotic bacteria?

  • An adult’s small intestine contains about 1kg of bacteria and their colon around 1.5kg. (So, in total 2.5kg intestinal bacteria) 
  • Friendly (probiotic) and harmful bacteria co-exist in your intestine but this only poses a threat when the probiotic bacteria diminishes, allowing the harmful bacteria to dominate. 
  • Bacteria in your colon (large intestine) make Vitamin K and the B Vitamins B1, B2, Biotin, Folic Acid and B12.  They also improve the conditions for absorbing minerals like Calcium, Magnesium and Iron. 
  • A rather compelling experiment(1) showed that guinea pigs that were given an antibiotic died when given just 10* Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria – while animals with normal intestinal flora needed 1 trillion* of the same bacteria before they died… The antibiotic would have killed the germs in their body – the bad bacteria, and the good bacteria.  And in doing so, this is how much an antibiotic can reduce your resistance to infection.  

* Quantities of bacteria are normally measured in CFU (colony-forming units).  In this experiment, the comparison of 10 CFU to 1 trillion CFU is pretty convincing!

 

What’s the right dosage?

We encounter bacteria continually in our daily lives and so, in optimal circumstances our intestines readily build up a bacterial stock. The trick, however, is to get the balance of good and bad right.  You can safely supplement the good and expect the harmful bacteria to arrive on their own!

 

To quickly re-populate your intestine after an antibiotic, make sure the label shows a high enough dosage of bacteria: 

  • An infant needs 1 – 2 Billion CFUs (colony forming units) per day.    
  • A child of 4 needs roughly 1/3 – 1/2 an adult dose, so 2 – 5 Billion CFUs per day.   
  • An adult woman needs 5-10 Billion CFUs per day.  
      

 

Which bacteria are necessary?

Although our intestines contain roughly 400 different types of bacteria, some of them are more prevalent and necessary. Your supplement should contain both Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium Bifidus as a minimum.   
 
These other strains can add to the mix but shouldn’t be the only strain provided:

  • Lactobacillus reuterii
  • Lactobacillus plantaris 
  • Streptococcus thermophilus 
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  • Lactobacillus casei

 

 

Isn’t yoghurt enough do the job?

Yoghurt is a good probiotic maintenance tool, but you’d have to eat a lot to fix your antibiotic damage.  The recommended daily dosage of 5 billion bacteria means eating around 10 cups a day.

 

Then you also need to choose your yoghurt carefully – labelled as containing live, active cultures, and unsweetened. Your best choice is plain, live culture yoghurt, as sugar reduces the colonization of probiotic bacteria. 

 

Our References

1. Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics – approaching a definition. http://www.ajcn.org/content/73/2/361S.full

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