Since their introduction in 1928, antibiotics have been administered throughout the world, helping to protect people from a variety of pathogens. Whilst they have saved millions of lives, there is also the potential for side-effects, especially for people who use them regularly.
One such issue with antibiotics can be a detrimental effect on your gut health. The good news is, there is plenty of measures you can put in place to help support your gut all year-round.
How Antibiotics can Affect Your Gut
Your gut has the primary role to process food – from digestion, absorption of nutrients and the excretion of waste, it plays a critical role in our mood, emotions, immune system function and hormone balance. It is often referred to as our second brand and ensuring ongoing care of your gut is paramount to your overall health. Your gut works hard, being home to tens of trillions of microorganisms known as the microbiome (formerly called flora) and housing over 1000 different species of bacteria. It has its own nervous system and most of your serotonin (over 90%) is stored in your gut.
The gut microbiome is a very complex and intricate, yet delicate system and antibiotics can affect gut microbiota in a variety of ways. Whilst they can have many benefits, such as reducing pathogenic bacteria, their broad-spectrum nature means a variety of ‘good’ microbes are also indiscriminately killed when antibiotics are administered. This can lead to an imbalance in the microbiome, also termed dysbiosis, which can lead to GI symptoms including diarrhoea, gas, bloating, cramping and nausea. Other side effects can be:
- An imbalance in the intestinal ecosystem and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria
- Increase pressure within the stomach
- Reflux of food and acid into the oesophagus
- Irritation of the lining of the stomach and in response, the glands in the stomach secrete more acid. This acid can lead to more reflux of food and acid into the oesophagus, causing heartburn.
Factors that can influence the impact antibiotics have on the gut microbiome are the type of antibiotic or their combination. Some types have proven not to have significant impact, whilst others are seen to drastically reduce the microbial count and throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria.
During periods when you are taking an extended dose of antibiotics, it is even more critical than usual that you support your digestive health.
How to Support Your Gut When Taking Antibiotics
Get Plenty of Prebiotics
This is type of dietary fibre that encourages the growth of the good bacteria in your gut. You can find them in many fruits and vegetables, such as:
- Chicory root (the inulin in the root helps to nourish the gut bacteria)
Top up your Probiotics
Probiotics contain live bacteria and yeasts that are important for gut health. They can help to support your immune system and promote digestive health to aid the absorption of nutrients. You can find them in foods such as fermented foods such as yoghurt, kombucha and kefir. Increasing consumption of these foods and drinks are a great idea to prop up your probiotics, as well as supplements if required.
You can also find them in your skincare: AMPERNA® is the first Australian brand to bring you a full range of probiotic skincare products and recently expanded the range to offer consumer’s products containing a Bioferment Oligopeptide Complex. This is a Yeast Ferment Extract & Soy Amino Acid which helps to stimulate skin renewal and actively help refine & restore skin texture and radiance safely.
Other Tips on Supporting Your Gut:
- Take time to relax. Stress can disrupt the gut microbiome & cause inflammation.
- Enjoy a jog or brisk walk. Exercise can help with microbial diversity and support your immune system.
- Eat a wide range of plant-based foods. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefer different foods.
- Limit alcohol as too much can impact the health of your gut bacteria.
- Eat more fibre such as vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains. These feed healthy bacteria.
- Avoid highly processed foods as they can suppress 'good' bacteria or increase 'bad' bacteria.
Kiri Yanchenko, founder of AMPERNA® helps many people with their gut health and associated skin conditions. Her products and ingredients are inspired by Kiri’s learnings on Holistic Skin Health and the link that she found between gut health and skin health. Her skincare range are full of anti-inflammatory anti-bacterial ingredients and contain a probiotic complex. Get in touch here.