Recovering from Antibiotics & 6 steps to repopulating the good bugs.
Even a single course of antibiotics permanently changes the landscape of our micro biome i.e. our good flora...
...Microbiome being the term given to the precious microorganisms living symbiotically with us as human beings. A relationship that is CRITICAL for a strong, healthy immune system and our optimum wellbeing.
Have you got an ailment you're finding hard to fix or weight you just can't budge no matter what you do or an autoimmune condition that's appeared or parasitic or fungal infections depleting you? There may be a common link.
It has been argued that these conditions could ALL in someway be linked to an imbalanced microbiome, and ultimately perhaps back to a gut that has over the years been impacted by medications and / or antibiotics. In this post I share our recent experience and learnings, plus a recipe and video sharing my favourite ferment - milk kefir.
The past week has been difficult as each of us, apart from Chloe, came down with the flu. Benj, our 8 year old suffered the hardest. After 3 days of fevers and an ear infection he seemed to recover only to relapse a few days later. The antibiotics that I was relieved not to have used were, used after all. Understanding how hard it is to rebuild that fragile microbiome made it a difficult decision for us to make. However, I realise like any one of us, the concern for our health or our sick children and the promise of relief with medication is hard to ignore and instinctively as mothers and fathers we will always do what we believe is the best for our children and our families, with the knowledge we have. And no matter what the decision - that is THE best decision.
After having antibiotics it's critical to start repopulating the good bugs asap, helping to safeguard against opportunistic, pathogenic bacteria taking up residence in the vulnerable digestive tract.
Here's what we need to do...
1. Feed the good bugs that still remain and encourage them to multiply with prebiotics i.e. food for the probiotic (good bugs) e.g. raw, preferably organic, vegetables and fruits. This insoluble fiber provides food for good bacteria while giving it a structure upon which to multiply. How to add these foods in;
- A range of different coloured Veggie sticks and salads are a great option.
- Add extra to the kids lunch boxes or if they have 'crunch and sip' in the class.
- Encourage them to take veggies before fruit.
- Green smoothies are a perfect way to enjoy some of the prebiotic foods listed below.
Other wonderful prebiotics are dandelion greens, cabbage, leeks, garlic, onion, ginger, artichoke. If you have a baby, green smoothies are not necessary, keep reading for more ideas. Listen to your body, watch your children and check what foods work best for your family.
2. Avoid all processed sugars. Processed sugar feeds "bad" bacteria (including the pathogen you are trying to destroy with the antibiotic). Processed foods should be avoided, including highly refined breakfast cereals and the 'healthier' variety of sugars such as agave, brown rice syrup, fruit juice, etc. Even varieties of fruit with higher sugar content e.g. banana's should be limited during this time e.g. a week or so. Fruit lower in sugar such as berries or apples stewed or grated are a great alternative sweetener. Also try using xylitol or stevia.
3. Fermented Foods and/or Probiotics. To help yourepopulate the gut with good bacteria go to fermented foods first that are high in good bacteria, enzymes and nutrients e.g. milk kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut or a fermented turmeric tonic.
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain beneficial bacteria. But note, probiotics are not all equal. Avoid flavoured, commercial yogurt with sugar added. It will do as much harm to our gut flora than good. The probiotic brands we use include;
- doTERRA PB assist (gives a good combination of bacterial strains & has an enteric coating to help get past the guts stomach acid)
- Prescript Assist, a soil based bacterial formulation or
- Probex by metagenics.
- Metagenics, bioceuticals or orthoplex infant probiotics.
There are SO many different strains of bacteria that we need it's important to 'mix it up'.
Enjoy vegetables from the garden, including the microscopic bacteria that come along for the ride.
4. Bone stock and gelatin can help the body heal and restore the mucosal lining in our digestive system (which can be damaged during antibiotic use, damaging lifestyle choices or poor diet).
Bone stock already contains gelatin, so if consuming homemade stock you will not necessarily need to supplement your diet with other forms of gelatin.
5. A minimal amount of screen time and LOTS of playing outside. Many of our good bacteria thrive on our bodies movement and exercise. Even if the weather isn't conducive, get the family outside, experiencing the elements and all the goodness the great outdoors offer us.
6. Essential Oils. Essential oils have the 'intelligence' to recognise pathogenic bugs from the beneficial bugs within us, just as they do for the plant, when in nature. They've become a fundamental part of our home. If you're interested in learning more contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or check out details for my next class and webinar, 'Natures Medicine Cabinet with Essential Oils'.
While these are steps to rebuild after having to use antibiotics they are equally applicable to use to help build a strong microbiome and overall wellbeing.