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The effects of antibiotics on your intestinal flora

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Taking antibiotics can throw your intestinal flora off balance. It can even make you sick. So it's important to know what you can do yourself to restore the balance of your intestinal flora. Antibiotics, unfortunately, do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria. For good gut health, it is necessary to create a healthy intestinal environment with both good and bad bacteria. Therefore, you should be aware of the effects of antibiotics on your intestinal flora. Read this blog to learn more.

In this blog we answer the following questions:

  • What does our intestinal flora consist of?
  • How do antibiotics affect our intestinal flora?
  • What are the consequences of a disturbed intestinal flora?
  • How can you avoid getting sick from antibiotics?

What does our intestinal flora consist of?

Our intestinal flora consists of more than 600 different types of bacteria that live mainly in the large and small intestine. These bacteria can be classified as beneficial or harmful. As long as a balance is maintained, you won't get sick. The intestinal flora can break down substances that the body itself cannot break down. Intestinal bacteria are also a source of a range of vitamins, including Vitamin K.

How do antibiotics affect our intestinal flora?

Antibiotics attack all bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. They do a good job, but they also unintentionally kill or inhibit the action of good bacteria when fighting an infection. This can throw your intestinal flora off balance.

What are the consequences of a disturbed intestinal flora?

A healthy intestinal flora ensures that we do not get sick. However, antibiotics can cause a healthy intestinal flora to be become unbalanced, leading to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can cause symptoms, such as:

  • Stomach upset.
  • Constipation, diarrhoea (common).
  • Fatigue.
  • Body odour/bad breath.
  • Nutrient deficiency.
  • Increased risk of getting sick.
  • Higher chance of recurring infections.
  • Higher chance of developing allergies and food intolerances.
  • Higher chance of developing chronic inflammatory bowel diseases.

How to avoid getting sick from antibiotics?

It is very important to restore the balance of your intestinal flora as soon as possible. This is something you can start with while taking antibiotics. Since antibiotics can have a negative impact on intestinal flora, you should talk to your doctor to find out whether treatment with antibiotics is really necessary. If you are starting or have just finished a course of antibiotics, you can help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut by taking probiotics. Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when consumed, take up residence in the gut and stimulate the production of beneficial bacteria.

There are different types of probiotics:

  • Probiotic foods: e.g. yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, teas, raw buttermilk and kombucha.
  • Vitamin D: ensures that the immune system works properly and reduces the risk of infections.
  • L-glutamine: an amino acid available as a supplement which helps protect the intestinal lining. L-glutamine is produced naturally in the body, but in some cases the body is unable to produce enough.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus: a probiotic that promotes a healthy small intestine.
  • Bifidobacterium: a probiotic that prevents pathogen invasion and stimulates the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
  • Streptococcus thermophilus: widely used in the dairy industry, for example to make yoghurt. This probiotic is recommended for lactose intolerance.
  • Enterococcus faecium: helps prevent and/or treat antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.

In addition, there are also dietary adjustments that you can make to keep your intestinal flora happy and healthy:

  • Ensure your diet contains plenty of fibre.
  • Eat fermented foods.
  • Limit your intake of sugar.
  • Detox.
  • Exercise after taking antibiotics.
  • Eat fruits that are rich in Vitamin C.
  • Get plenty of fresh air.
  • Eat fish or take fish oil supplements.

Dokteronline.com is a platform for connecting patients with doctors and pharmacies, enabling targeted treatment and care. Dokteronline.com believes in responsible self-management of treatable health conditions.


www.sohf.nl (n.d.) Five tips to restore your intestinal flora. Consulted on 18-08-2021 via https://www.sohf.nl/blog/darmflora-herstellen-na-antibiotica-met-deze-5-tips

www.info.bloedwaardetest.nl (n.d.) Eight tips to restore intestinal flora after taking antibiotics. Consulted on 18-08-2021 via https://info.bloedwaardentest.nl/antibioticakuur-nodig-8-tips-om-je-darmflora-weer-te-herstellen/

www.mens-en-gezondheid.infonu.nl (n.d.) What is intestinal flora? Consulted on 25-08-2021 via https://mens-en-gezondheid.infonu.nl/gezonde-voeding/39347-wat-is-darmflora.html

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