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Gut Health after Antibiotics

Kim Shapira
August 1, 2023
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Have you ever had strep throat, a UTI, a sinus infection, or another kind of bacterial infection? Usually, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the symptoms of these types of infections - but how do these medications work? Antibiotics can be very powerful medications. What does it do to heal our bodies from nasty bacteria that cause sickness and discomfort?

Well, let's start by discussing bacteria. Many people conjure up a negative image when they think of bacteria 🧫. Your mind might picture all the types of germs 🦠 surrounding you that can cause you to get sick 🤧. But germs 🦠 and bacteria 🧫 are not the samething. A “germ” is an umbrella category which bacteria falls under — so, it's only a type of germ. There are four major types of germs:bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. (But that is for another blog.)

Fun Fact: there is not one single type of bacteria - bacteria are living organisms and come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. But are all bacteria really bad? NO!  Some bacteria are harmful to your body and can lead to infections, they are referred to as  “bad bacteria”. And some bacteria that are beneficial to your body. They help the bodily functions run smoothly and in an efficient manner and these are called “good bacteria”.

There are more bacteria in your body than can be counted (it is a very, very, large number). One of the most important to mention is the bacteria found in our gut. There are about 100 trillion bacteria found only in the gut! These bacteria influence your digestion and absorption of food to support your body (checkout this website for more info). But where can we find the “good bacteria?” Hmmm.

When you start antibiotics 💊, you and your doctor are looking to kill off and prevent respawning of harmful bacteria that causes infection. Understand that by you taking antibiotics, this is not the only thing it does. Unfortunately, there is no way for the antibiotic to specifically target the “bad bacteria”, and as a result, all the bacteria are killed to eliminate any risk of reinfection. Even though not all bacteria are “bad” and carry an infection, most bacteria are destroyed by these antibiotics. This is both beneficial (since it kills off the infection) and worrisome (because it destroys healthy bacteria in your gut).

So, what’s the solution? How do we gain back the “good bacteria” and leave the “bad bacteria” out of our bodies? Probiotics!

Probiotics are live microorganisms that contain “good bacteria” and can help replenish your body, so it is prepared to keep you healthy. Most probiotics are found in foods and can be consumed to help our bodies recover after taking antibiotics. One of the most common probiotic foods people may hear or think about is yogurt. This is a great option and contains so many probiotics (good bacteria) to help your gut health. For more info on probiotics (just in case you are extra curious 🙂) visit this link!

There are other fermented foods like, sauerkraut, miso soup, sour doughbread and soft cheeses, to name a few. And there are many supplements you can take to replenish your “good bacteria” including certain pill forms and vitamins. So, as we head into the Fall, please think ahead and have your probiotics ready. Here is my favorite probiotic.

Take care of yourself and your gut! Remember when you take the bad out,that you need to recharge it with the good!



**Most types of bacteria aren't harmful; many are even helpful. They make up your microbiome, which keeps your gut healthy. Other bacteria, called pathogens, can cause infections that require treatment. Healthcare providers can prescribe antibiotics to treat many of these infections.

Kim Shapira

Kim Shapira

dietitian and nutrition therapist.

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