The word “antibiotic” literally means “against life.” And that’s what these nasty pills do – though they may heal your body of the harmful bacteria they’re designed to kill, they wipe out all of your beneficial gut flora in the process. All of it. Plain and simple. The bacteria that has flourished inside of your warm tummy & intestines since birth, that has helped you to avoid infections and viruses, that has made your digestion smooth and flawless, is now history.
Without your beautiful gut flora, you will likely develop a yeast overgrowth, otherwise known as Candida – so brace yourself! This can come with some unpleasant symptoms, ranging from simple digestive upset, to depression, to chronic acid reflux. You may even have an uncontrollable craving for sugar. This is the yeast yelling for nourishment! After completing my 14 day slew of antibiotics for an H-Pylori infection, I was presented with all of those new symptoms, plus some. My insides felt toxic. And though my H-Pylori was gone, I faced a new challenge – healing my body from the antibiotics.
Let’s define another word, shall we? Probiotics. Translated, it means “for life.” Now, this sounds much nicer, right? Probiotics are beneficial yeast and bacteria. There are over 400 stains of them found in nature. These are what you need – and lots of them! Even if you don’t have a yeast overgrowth, these beneficial bacteria can help with digestion, disease resistance, nutrient absorption, and even lactose intolerance. Probiotics can be consumed in supplement form, or in the form of food.
In supplements, you want to look for at least 5 to 10 billion live bacteria per capsule. Some may need to be refrigerated, and if so, it’s important that you follow the instructions so the bacteria stay alive. It’s also vital that the product guarantees a certain number of bacteria be alive by the expiration date. You don’t want to be taking dead pills!
If you want to get your probiotics from food, the easiest place to start is plain or greek yogurts. Try to find one that contains at least 5 active cultures, including lactobacillus acidophilus. Also, unpasteurized is best, because heat can damage the beneficial bacteria. When you're ready to move on, introduce yourself to fermented fruits & veggies, kefir, tempeh, and Kombucha (my favorite!). Dairy is an ideal source of probiotics, because it helps to buffer stomach acid and guarantees that the bacteria survives in the gut.
You can also combine these with prebiotics, which act as food for the probiotics and help them to fully do their job. While probiotics act in the small intestine, prebiotics act in the large intestine. The combination of the two creates a synergistic effect in the body. Prebiotics can be found in raw oats, asparagus, rye, bananas, artichokes, and many other common foods.
Healing your tummy takes time and patience. You must be gentile, and understand that antibiotics don’t play well with your gut. Send your cells positive thoughts, treat your body with love, and be confident that you can heal yourself!