Preserve belly bug balance while on antibiotics

Set your alarm for this routine that will save your gut

Q: I am on antibiotics and will be on them for a couple of weeks. Should I continue taking my pre- and probiotics with the antibiotics?

GR: If you’ve been reading my eTips for a while now, you know that probiotics should be a staple of your daily routine.

It’s a sure-fire way to make sure that your gut flora — the “good” belly bugs that regulate digestion, immunity, and even mood — stays balanced and keeps the “bad” guys out.

But since none of us live in a bubble, it’s impossible to prevent exposure to harmful, infection-causing bacteria. And sometimes we get sick.

But if you ask me, most mainstream doctors prescribe too many antibiotics as an “easy fix” for a patient who’s feeling ill, even if what they’ve got is a virus and won’t be killed off by the drugs.

What those antibiotics WILL kill off, however, is ALL the bacteria in your gut — including the “good guys” that you need.

So, as I shared with you earlier this week, my advice to patients is usually to avoid taking antibiotics unless they’re absolutely necessary.

And sometimes, they are.

While you’re on an antibiotic is probably the MOST important time to take a probiotic supplement, so you can keep your gut populated with strains of beneficial bacteria while the pathogenic ones are being killed off.

Probiotics can even help ease some of the nasty side effects of antibiotics, like stomach upset and diarrhea.

But there’s a trick to it — because if you take your antibiotics and probiotics together at the same time, the antibiotic will just wipe out the good bugs you’re trying to put back in.

So, I always tell my patients to take the antibiotics as directed… wait two hours… and then take the probiotic.

There’s something else that helps support a healthy microbiome, too: the prebiotic known as fermented chlorella. By supplying a rich source of fiber and fueling the healthy regeneration of gut microbes, chlorella may as much as triple the rate of probiotic growth in the intestines.

And because prebiotics aren’t live organisms, they aren’t touched by the antibiotics.

You can take supplements of fermented chlorella and other prebiotic fiber sources, but be sure to incorporate lots of high-fiber foods into your diet (which hopefully follows the back-to-basics principles of Paleo).

One of my favorite prebiotic snacks is a handful of almonds.

Keep sending those great questions to me! Every week I choose one from my inbox to answer here in eTips. Drop me a line at askdrrothfeld@nutritionandhealing.com.