How to Heal Your Body After a Round of Antibiotics
Antibiotics can serve their purpose. They kill all the bad guys that are making us sick, uncomfortable and yearning for health. Unfortunately, they also kill the good guys.
More than 1000 trillion bacteria live in our digestive systems. Our bodies are made up of more bacteria than human cells and it is important to keep these bacteria in balance. A healthy, unrefined, nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet, promotes good bacteria in your gut. So step 1, is always, always, always to eat clean. But when you eat all the kale in the world, snack on green juices and apple slices and still somehow manage to get sick...sometimes it's necessary to take that antibiotic now and recoup later. Here’s how to get all of those good bacteria right where you want them post-antibiotics.
1. Eat fermented foods.
Binge on the kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and beet kvass. All of these fermented foods will help repopulate the gut with the healthy bacteria that so sadly just lost. Products purchased in store often only contain a few strains of bacteria, so homemade is best!
2. Take probiotics.
Probiotics are good bacteria that help restore the balance of the gut. They promote overall gut health and can even help with digestion. Try to get one with a few different strains of good bacteria. The more variety of probiotics in our system, the better it is able to keep the bad bacteria out. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are common, good strains of bacteria that are readily available in most health food stores. S. boulardii, a beneficial yeast, is especially useful during antibiotic treatment. Since it is a yeast rather than a bacteria strain, the antibiotics can’t kill it.
3. Take L-glutamine.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining. This amino acid plays a critical role in healthy digestion and brain function and protects against mucosal breakdown in the gut. L-glutamine has the ability to fight against bad gut flora, keep the epithelial cells in the gut from dying, and support the immune system.
4. Drink bone broth.
When your mom gave you chicken soup when you were sick, she was on to something. Bone broth is loaded with minerals, vitamins and beneficial amino acids like glutamine. As I mentioned above, glutamine helps heal the gut wall lining. I have some personal experience the healing effects of bone broth, so if you are willing to experiment, I highly suggest it!
5. Support your liver.
Antibiotics take a toll on a few different systems. Their potency puts a knock on your liver as well as your gut as the liver has to process the medication coming into your system.
- Try taking milk thistle. Milk Thistle is an herbal supplement that detoxifies the liver and has been used as a natural treatment for liver disorders.
- Drink beet juice. Beets are packed with iron, calcium, betaine, B vitamins and antioxidants. They improve liver function by thinning the bile, making for easier flow.
1. Eat refined foods (sugar and simple carbohydrates)
Bad gut bacteria thrive off of these bad foods. Your gut needs all of the help that it can get, so keep away from anything that could damage it. Replace these with fresh, unprocessed foods.
2. Eat gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar.
These foods are commonly inflammatory to the system. Many people have sensitivities or negative reactions to these foods without even knowing it. Additionally, these foods are often GMO, so staying away from them is an easier resolution, especially when healing.
If you are like me and haven’t taken an Advil in four years - despite the headaches from enjoying girl's nights a little too much - having to take an antibiotic is not at the top of your list of things to do. Last time I had to take one I actually shed a tear (yes, really). Why had my health knowledge failed me? Well, sometimes shit happens. Don’t beat yourself up over it - that just makes everything worse because gastrointestinal function is actually influenced by stress. Stress can cause changes in mucosal permeability and barrier function, visceral sensitivity and mucosal blood flow among others. So give yourself a break. You may have to take an antibiotic in your lifetime. Accept it, bless it, let it knock out the bad, and promise yourself that you will bring back in the good.