Despite having saved millions of lives since their introduction, over prescribing and excessive use of antibiotics are playing a huge part in the population’s overall gut health. One of their unfortunate side effects, however, is that antibiotic drugs are not selective in choosing which bacteria to kill which means good bacteria in the gut can die, along with the bad. An estimated 1/3 of your bacteria will get wiped out from one round of antibiotics. For some this causes little harm, for others however it can be the start of digestive issues!
Take for example Trina’s son EJ, a seven year old boy who had his tonsils taken out and was given routine antibiotics.
My name is Trina Bannatyne. My son is EJ. After a couple years of issues it was decided that EJ would benefit from having his tonsils and adenoids removed. The procedure was done in September of last year. He came through the surgery very well. He was given one dose of morphine and a course of preventative antibiotics. EJ had quite a difficulty swallowing so keeping him hydrated was difficult. Our inexperience with antibiotics and children didn’t help. These things created a perfect storm for a very severe case of constipation. It went on for months with doctors telling us to give copious amounts of Restoralax and fibre and water. Even suppositories were used with limited results. The success was very minor with every movement taking hours. This always included horrible screaming and crying that always left EJ exhausted and us feeling like horrible parents. It was heart wrenching. The consultations were all the same from family doctors to emergency doctors and even a renowned pediatrician. I spent hours on the internet trying to find a better direction. I was lost. By chance I saw Karen on fb because I worked with her husband and had been friends for years. Our first visit was very emotional. She kept telling me to give myself a break and that I am a great mom. Through my tears I felt hopeful with how she was explaining things. She gave me supplements and a recipe plan for a month. I took a deep breath and felt better leaving that office than I had in months. EJ surprisingly took very well to the change in diet including bacon eggs and hash browns. The supplements he gulped down with no problem. He had the most encouraging poop in less than 2 days. I cried for an hour. Same thing a couple days later. We were transformed! Our house was happy again! Looking back Karen’s analysis of EJ’s symptoms it makes so much better sense to rebuild his stomach bacteria instead of just trying to flush his bowel. This woman really knows her stuff and EJ is now quite regular and luckily he is not permanently scarred by the experience. He even pooped twice today! I have since been using a program she designed for me and am so much happier and aware of my eating habits. Karen please be proud of what you do. It’s a business but it’s so much more than that. It’s health and hope! You are a health warrior! I will always be so grateful!!!”
Trina’s story unfortunately us all to common! People are given routine antibiotics all the time without being told what to do in order to replace all of that beneficial bacteria that was wiped out. Even if you can’t remember the last time you were prescribed an antibiotic, if you eat non organic meat, you are likely consuming animal products that have been routinely given antibiotics to prevent disease and to stimulate their growth. Which will enter into your own system after eating the meat!
Why is this bad?
Your gut is its own ecosystem, providing a home to 100 trillion microorganisms, including hundreds of different species of bacteria collectively known as the Microbiome. These microbes in your gut play crucial roles in digestion, immunity, metabolism, and mental health. As a side-effect, antibiotics can change the body’s normal microbial content by attacking both beneficial or harmless bacteria found in the intestines, lungs and bladder. The destruction of the body’s normal bacterial flora provides an opportunity for drug-resistant microorganisms to grow vigorously and can lead to a secondary infection such as “C. diff” or when the number of good bacteria in your gut falls, it can leave you susceptible to the overgrowth of other organisms, like yeast, commonly known as Candida. When eating a diet high in sugar, yeast multiplies and from there it can damage the lining of your intestinal walls, leading to leaky gut.
What can you do about it?
Making sure you are feeding your gut either during a course of antibiotics (or all the time, ideally) is going to help you maintain as much good bacteria as possible and lessen the damaging effects of antibiotics.
1. Change your diet
First and foremost, you may need to make some changes in your diet including eating more probiotic and prebiotic foods
- Bone Broth: Homemade broth contains collagen and the amino acids proline and glycine that can help heal your damaged cell walls.
- Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, beet kvass is some of the most popular fermented foods. Fermented foods can deliver trillions of good bacteria into your system helping to crowd out the bad and repopulate the bowels. Check out this article on how to begin making your own fermented foods
- Resistant starch: Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that has been shown to improve gut health and promote weight loss. It feeds the good bacteria helping them to multiply.
2. Remove the bad guys
Not only do you want to remove any harmful foods but also other harmful factors such as parasites, candida overgrowth, H. pylori and small intestinal bacteria overgrowth. Talk to a Naturopathic Doctor if you suspect any of these or would like to get tested and receive treatment for them if necessary.
Changing your diet will usually have drastic results on how you feel but for many, added supplements and healing foods are necessary and highly recommended. For a list of supplements that you might take click here.