In an ideal world, we would never need to take antibiotics. And hopefully we are using alternative, natural remedies to treat our selves as much as possible. But sometimes antibiotics are unavoidable. So here’s 6 ways to rebuild gut flora after antibiotics.
Good health starts with the gut
The gut is the principal area of your body where exchanges are made between you and the outside world and where nutrient uptake takes place. Since most diseases start in the gut, the quality of the flora that resides there is extremely important to overall health.
Think about this: the human gastro-intestinal tract houses the bulk of the human immune system, about 70% of it. Everything we eat and drink passes through the gut along the gastrointestinal tract. The tubelike GI tract is embedded with millions of bacteria that live, grow, and metabolize (digesting and absorbing) in what’s considered a complex ecosystem comprised of both beneficial and harmful bacteria.
Imbalances within this ecosystem will impair the gut barrier and increase risk of developing disease. With our stressful lifestyles, environmental toxins, and food lacking in real nutrition, our gut lining is unable to completely regenerate and heal itself as the old lining naturally sheds off. This leaves tiny gaps in the lining, allowing proteins and other “foreign” particles to seep into our bodies, creating a host of ailments and diseases.
Effects of antibiotics on gut flora
Antibiotics are particularly harmful to our precious gut flora. Research shows that antibiotics drastically alter and decrease the diversity and composition of the gut flora. And this diversity does not return without some sort of intervention.
Antibiotics not only decrease the beneficial bacteria in our gut, they also dramatically and negatively affect our immune systems, leaving us vulnerable to illness and disease. (source)
6 Ways to Rebuild Gut Flora After Antibiotics
1. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are the easiest and most economical ways to rebuild gut flora. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, , kimchi, lacto-fermented ginger carrots, lacto-fermented pickles, enzyme-rich mayonnaise, yogurt, and kefir. The natural process of lacto-fermentation supplies us with tons and tons of gut-friendly bacteria to recolonize our gut after antibiotics.
Learn more about lacto-fermentation from the Weston Price Foundation website HERE
Need some recipe ideas? Check out 15 Ways to Get Your Family To Eat More Fermented Foods
Taking a good quality probiotic supplement can speed up recovery and rebuild gut flora. Choose a a probiotic that has multiple strains in it to increase the diversity. Be sure to keep in in the fridge. I recommend starting out small and increasing slowly in order to allow your gut to adjust. THIS is the brand recommended my Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride from The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).
3. Clean up your diet:
Yes, we should all be eating a clean diet all of the time. But especially after antibiotics, it is beneficial to avoid things that are detrimental to gut flora. Things that negatively affect gut flora are too much sugar, too much fiber, toxins like herbicides and pesticides, gluten, industrial seed oils (like soy, canola, sunflower, corn, etc.) NSAID (like ibuprofen), and birth control pills.
An easy approach to clean eating after antibiotics is to avoid grains, dairy, and sugar for a time. These things feed the bad bacteria that you are trying to keep from colonizing in your gut. Also avoid eating foods grown with chemicals and unhealthy vegetable oils.
Another way to really clean up your diet is to do the GAPS diet. The GAPS diet is a temporary way of eating that removes all fiber from the diet while adding in probiotics and fermented foods. You slowly introduce foods into the diet with the intention of healing the gut lining. See THIS for a detail outline of how to start the GAPS diet.
A good quality gelatin is very beneficial for the gut lining. It is highly recommended as a digestive aid, as it can sooth and help heal the digestive track. It naturally binds to water and helps food move through the digestive tract more easily. A healthy gut lining is essential for rebuilding gut flora after antibiotics.
A grass fed gelatin supplement can be taken daily. THIS one can be used it hot liquids and soups. It forms a nice gel when it cools. It is the one you would use to make healthy gummy snacks. And THIS one doesn’t gel and will dissolve in cold liquids.
5. Reduce your stress level:
You may not have thought about this one. But the gut is highly sensitive to stress. The gut contains a complex system of nerves and neuron cell bodies that are influenced by signals from the brain.
Some stress-induced gut changes include changes is gastric secretions, mucosal permeability, and barrier function of the gut lining. There is also research that shows that stress can lead to an overgrowth of certain bacteria and a decrease in the diversity of microbes in the large intestine. (source)
So, breathe, relax, and find ways to lessen the stress.
6. Eat fermentable fiber:
Even though excess fiber intake has been shown to be detrimental to gut flora, it is important to get fermentable fiber in your diet. Fermentable fiber is soluble fiber. It is long-chain glucose polymers (polysaccharides.) It feeds good bacteria. Fermentable fiber is found in starchy foods like sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, etc.
Fermentable fiber has been shown to stimulate the production of good bacteria in the colon and to improve the protective lining of the lower gut. (source)
NOTE: Starchy foods are not allowed on the GAPS diet.
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Want to learn more? Check out How to Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics.
Have you had to take antibiotics recently? Have you tried any of these things?
Photo credit: depositphotos.com / Spectral