It’s fairly common knowledge that antibiotics kill some of the health-promoting bacteria that live within your gut’s complex ecosystem. Taking a probiotic supplement can support the way gut flora work together to keep that ecosystem – and you – at the healthiest.
Antibiotics are used to kill both the pathogenic bacteria that should not be present in the body and the pathogenic bacteria that normally reside in the body in very small numbers but which have “overgrown” for some reason.
Unfortunately, while antibiotics are targeting the unwanted pathogenic bacteria, they often disrupt (or destroy) the balance of “good” gut flora. The result: gastrointestinal upset. Up to 20% of people using antibiotics experience antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Most of the research shows that you need at least 5 to 10 billion of the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or LGG, and Saccharomyces boulardii: this Nexabiotic has both, and nearly 3000 positive reviews.
The longer you use an antibiotic, the more damage that is likely to occur in the gut ecosystem. Some people can experience severe symptoms that progress to inflammation of the colon, which can become life-threatening.
This is where probiotics come in. With an estimated 80% of your immune system located in your gut, taking a probiotic on a regular basis is a good idea for most people–except those who are immunocompromised–and especially important while taking antibiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that encourage the growth of good gut bacteria, thus strengthening immunity. And they can help prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Evidence has also revealed that probiotics can help treat:
- acute infectious diarrhea
- Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea
- hepatic encephalopathy
- ulcerative colitis
- irritable bowel syndrome
- functional gastrointestinal disorders
- necrotizing enterocolitis (also known as NEC, necrotizing enterocolitis is a serious intestinal disease that can affect premature babies, especially those who have a low birth weight and other health complications; research has shown that probiotics are well-tolerated by premies and can reduce risk of death)
Probiotics come in different strains of bacteria, as well as different forms (e.g., liquid, capsule) and are usually refrigerated to preserve the integrity of the microorganisms.
Just as important is making sure that you take the probiotic at a different time of day–4 hours apart–than when you take antibiotics and to continue taking the probiotic even after you have finished the antibiotic.
Remember that probiotics may have side effects, demonstrated in this helpful infographic from Positive Health Wellness.
Your physician can help determine which probiotic formula and dosing strategy is best for your needs. You might also reference the list of “Best Probiotic Supplements” selected by Reviews.com, available here.