I recently was prescribed a week’s worth of antibiotics. And while I couldn’t avoid taking them, I was in the middle of writing my post on living toxin-free and was wondering how these antibiotics were possibly affecting me. Here’s what I found..
Antibiotics Kill More Than Just Bad Bacteria
Though antibiotics are taken to kill off the bacteria that is making you sick, they are also killing the good bacteria in your body. More than 1000 trillion bacteria live in your digestive systems. An imbalance in good and bad bacteria can lead to symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, digestive problems, skin conditions, moodiness, weight gain, sugar cravings, bad breath, food allergies/sensitivities, suppressed immune system, and the list goes on! 80% of our immune system is in our gut and an imbalance in our bacteria severely affects our immune response. Rebalancing our flora helps us avoid getting sick in the future.
Supporting the balance of bacteria in our gut is important to our health, especially after a dose of antibiotics.
Antibiotics and Antimicrobials are Everywhere
It’s not just prescribed antibiotics that affect us in this way. Antibiotics and antimicrobials are found everywhere. They are found in a majority of conventional meats, tap water, soaps, mouthwash, and toothpaste.
Antibiotics are used in livestock’s feed to prevent sickness- it’s not just used on sick animals. They are used in such high amounts, residues can remain in the meat. The meat is tested, but they are allowed certain “acceptable levels” of antibiotic residue to pass. I don’t know about you, but I’d like there to be “no levels” in my food!
Water treatment facilities remove waste from the water, but do not remove pharmaceuticals. Medications, antibiotics, and antibacterial soaps eventually are mixed in with our tap water. Though only an extremely low amount of these is found in our tap water, it’s still exposure and can add to the amount we are exposed to as a whole.
Triclosan and Triclocarban are the most common antimicrobials added to antibacterial soap. Some animal studies done with these have shown scary affects- Triclosan interfered with thyroid hormones which can lead to obesity, infertility, and cancer. Possibly the scariest part is that antibacterial soap can be directly absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream, making it that much more direct.
With such exposure to these, it seems we could all use a detox from antibiotics once in awhile! Read on for tips to detox and recover from antibiotics.
Antibiotic Detox and Recovery
Probiotics bring more good bacteria into your digestive system, but don’t go grabbing just anything off the shelf! Many store-bought probiotics can’t get past digestion without our stomach acid killing most of it off. Do your research to choose a high-quality probiotic that’s specifically formulated to bypass stomach acid.
While fermented foods help, sugar-filled, flavored yogurt will only make it worse. Pay attention to the foods you choose.
Good options of fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and coconut kefir have a lot of good bacteria strands that are sometimes able to get past our stomach acid. Purchasing from a health food store or making these from home will assure what you buy has more than a few strains of healthy bacteria.
While these are healthy options, if you’re relying on these foods to resupply an imbalance, or if you’ve had your appendix removed, it’s a good idea to also take a good probiotic formulated to bypass stomach acid.
While probiotics are living good bacteria that is taken to resupply the good bacteria in our gut, the prebiotics can be compared to a fertilizer for helping the good bacteria grow. They are undigestible plant fibers that feed the probiotics and good bacteria!
In order of containing most prebiotics: raw chicory root, raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw garlic, raw leeks, raw onion, cooked onions, raw asparagus, raw wheat bran, baked wheat flour, and raw banana.
L-glutamine is an amino acid. It can rejuvenate the gut wall lining and can help fight against bad bacteria until you rebalance and repopulate the good bacteria. This amino acid is also critical for healthy digestion, brain function, and protects against mucosal breakdown (like the wall lining of your digestive system). L-glutamine is very helpful to supporting the immune system in times of flora imbalance.
Support Your Liver
Because your liver has to process any medications, chemicals, and toxins you take in, antibiotics are especially hard on it.
Two supplements can help:
The herbal supplement, Milk Thistle, can detoxify your liver after a challenging week of processing antibiotics.
Beet juice can improve liver function by thinning the bile, making it flow easier. Beet juice is also rich in iron, calcium, betaine, B vitamins, and antioxidants, so it’s a healthy option all around!
Avoid Refined Foods (Sugars and Simple Carbohydrates)
Bad gut bacteria thrive on this. Steer away from these foods while your gut is recovering. Opt for some fresh, unprocessed foods instead!
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Foods that are commonly inflammatory to our system include gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar. While it’s always smart to eat these in moderation, it’s especially important to avoid when trying to heal your gut.
Without even knowing it, many people also have sensitivities and negative reactions to these foods.
Again, stress is a culprit! Our gastrointestinal function is influenced by stress– stress can cause negative changes in the permeability, blood flow, barrier function, and sensitivity of the gut lining.
Don’t hinder your digestive systems by failing to manage and relieve your daily stress.
What You Can Eat LOTS Of
Eat lots of raw produce, more veggies than fruits. Seriously, 80% of your diet should be mostly vegetables. Aside from supporting your health as a whole, a high raw produce diet is essential for restoring healthy intestinal flora.
Include These Flavorful Foods
Turmeric, garlic, and ginger are especially beneficial while your flora is recovering. These flavorful foods boast benefits like anti-inflammatory properties, immune system support, antioxidants, and detoxifying from heavy metals.
Preparing to Recover from Antibiotics
So now I’m preparing! Along with drinking lots of water (as when flushing anything out of my system), I’m going to be stocking up on raw veggies, some fruits, high-quality probiotics, kombucha and sauerkraut, L-glutamine, beet juice, ginger, turmeric and garlic, and some de-stressing yoga. My well-balanced flora will see you on the healthy side!