Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you are suffering from a bacterial infection. Antibiotics can kill bad bacteria but they can also cause disruption to your gut’s complex microbiome. This is the microscopic group of bacteria that helps everything run smoothly.
Your doctor may suggest that you take probiotics as part of or after a course of antibiotics to counteract this. To restore your gut health, probiotic treatments are made up of beneficial live bacteria.
Is this the best way to return to your health?
A new study has revealed some surprising results Recent research published in Cell suggests that probiotics may not always be the best option to restore gut health.
Researchers from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and other institutions discovered that probiotics can actually slow down your gut microbiome returning to normal. This is more than just giving antibiotics to everything.
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The research team split the study participants into two groups. One group was administered a probiotic treatment of 11 strains for four weeks, while the other received a placebo. Although the probiotics administered to the first group were effective in colonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria, it was not enough to allow the microbiome to recover to its normal state over the entire six-month period. The gut microbiota in the second group was able to return to normal within three weeks of being off antibiotics.
The study was conducted on both mice and humans. This suggests that there is much more to be learned about the microbiome of our gut.
The traditional belief is that probiotics can reduce the adverse effects of antibiotics on the microbiome. “There is no strong scientific evidence to support this,” Dr. Emeran A. Mayer of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience and codirector of CURE Digestive Diseases Research Core Center at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), stated.
There are other options available to improve the microbiome of your gut Mayer said that it doesn’t mean that other life microbes found in fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi “may be beneficial to patients following a course antibiotics.”
Megan Meyer, PhD is the director of science communications at International Food Information Council (IFIC Foundation). She says antibiotics have been “one of most prescribed medicines” for centuries.
Antibiotic treatment can disrupt the diversity and composition of bacteria found in the gut. This could lead to a range of symptoms including diarrhea. She wrote that probiotics could help balance the bacteria in the gut and counteract potential alterations caused by antibiotic treatment in an email to Healthline.
Meyer added that this does have uses — taking a probiotic like Bifidobacteria has been shown to reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea. According to a 2008 review published in Nutrition, probiotics can have a positive effect on diarrheal symptoms and other GI symptoms.
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The new study is a counterpoint to traditional probiotics emphasis. However, it provides an alternative solution for returning the microbiome to its normal state after antibiotic treatment.
Researchers took stool samples from one group and frozen them before administering antibiotics. After antibiotic treatment, the stool was returned to the gut via an autologous fecal transferation. After eight days, the microbiome of the gut was back to normal. It took 21 days for the group who didn’t get this therapy to see their gut microbiota return to normal.
Prebiotics What you need to know
What other options are there to probiotic and fecal implantations to restore gut health? Meyer of the IFIC Foundation wrote that probiotics should be taken in combination with prebiotics.
She explained that prebiotics can be defined as “a substrate that is selectively used by host microorganisms conferring health benefits,” which means that these foods cannot be broken down by our digestive system. Prebiotics can be described as food for probiotics. Prebiotics can be found in fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Artichokes and asparagus are all prebiotics. Other fibers such as inulin can also be added to food like cereals, granola bars and yogurt.
She stated that the jury is still out about the ideal daily intake of probiotics and prebiotics.
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“I recommend that prebiotics and/or probiotics be incorporated primarily from food. She suggested yogurt with fruit, oat-based cereals or an Asian-inspired vegetable stir-fry with Kimchi.