Atlas makes health easy with at-home
DNA and gut microbiome testing
Buy test

After Antibiotics: How To Restore Gut Flora And Reset Your Gut

After Antibiotics: How To Restore Gut Flora And Reset Your Gut

Here’s what you need to know to restore gut health, help your natural flora, and choose the gut health supplements after antibiotics.

Becoming your healthiest self can feel like an insurmountable task, especially because our bodies can be wildly mysterious and complex. But many people don’t know that there are simple, specific, studied ways to improve your health – and most of them have to do with the gut.

This is because your body relies on good bacteria to regulate the digestive system, support immunity, serotonin production and much more. Rather than figuring out how to get rid of bad gut bacteria, you’ll discover that restoring gut flora and fixing good bacteria is more important.

Table of contents

This article by our friends at Jetson Probiotics explores the benefits of probiotics to mitigate the effects of antibiotics, and other ways to maintain gut health by taking care of your intestinal microbiome.

☝️DISCLAIMER☝This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What is the gut microbiome?

Why your gut needs bacteria (by Ted Ed)

Your gut microbiome lives in your large intestine, and it’s home to the most diverse bacteria in your entire body. That’s because, unlike any other part of the body, your digestive tract is an open ecosystem, which is more exposed to its external environment than any other part of the body.

What does this mean? Well, the gut microbiome can be shaped by things like gender, age, geographic and socio-economic conditions, diet, and health conditions. It also means that every person’s gut microbiome will be different, and affected by different factors.

Good bacteria and gut health

But we’ve been told for decades that all bacteria are evil, so if you’re wondering, “Is flora good for you?” right now, then you’re not alone. Don’t worry, this widespread belief is a myth. In fact, now we know that bacteria are overwhelmingly harmless, some are great, and only a few are bad.

Your gut microbiome is home to trillions of bacterial cells, which do a lot of work for your health. At birth and as an infant, they train your immune system. As an adult, they produce important substances that keep the gut lining healthy and fight off microbes that could make you sick.

For your gut to stay happy and keep you healthy, it depends on microbial diversity. Basically, there must be lots of different types of microbes living together. When there isn’t, it leads to dysbiosis, in which there isn’t enough diversity and some bacteria can grow out of control.

When an imbalance of good and bad bacteria happens, the microbiome can become unhappy, and this has consequences for digestion, inflammation, the gut lining, and even mood and brain health.

Gut bacteria and immune health

Most importantly, a takeover of bad bacteria can dramatically affect immunity and leave room for infection, disease and chronic illnesses to develop. The gut is the first line of communication between the external environment and the immune system. The two work together to mutually regulate our body’s reaction to harmful pathogens.

A gut microbiome that’s filled with good bacteria, can communicate to the cells in the immune system that not every “foreign” microorganism is harmful and needs to be attacked. But when the gut microbiome is imbalanced, it can’t properly communicate with the immune system, which results in your body attacking its own, healthy cells.

But when the immune system and gut are working together, things are working smoothly. This encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, which improves immunity and gut function. It creates stronger responses to pathogens while makes the body more tolerant to your natural gut bacteria.

How do antibiotics damage your gut health?

Restoring gut health starts by understanding the bacteria in your digestive tract
Restoring gut health starts by understanding the bacteria in your GI tract

Antibiotics are prescribed to nearly half the UK population every year for common conditions and in hospitals to treat and prevent serious infections. Here are the most common applications for antibiotics:

ear infections sinus infections
chest infections throat infections
urinary tract, bladder and kidney infections skin and wound infections
pneumonia

Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t stop at bad bacteria and they don’t treat viral infections, which are often nearly impossible to distinguish from bacterial ones. Instead, antibiotics kill good bacteria too, and that’s bad because good bacteria are often helping your body fight the infection.

Many people also experience mild-to-severe antibiotic side effects, especially if their immune health is already compromised, like hospital patients. More seriously, antibiotics can leave room for extremely harmful bacteria such as E.coli, C.diff and Salmonella – infections that may be so severe that hospitalization is required.

Common antibiotic side effects

  • diarrhea
  • yeast infections
  • gas
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • constipation

Even though antibiotics are very effective at clearing up bacterial infections, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to bolster your gut microbiome, because keeping the good bacteria is just as important as killing the bad.

What are the best ways to restore gut health?

A diet rich in prebiotic plant foods nourishes the gut microbiome by Suresh Designer for Unsplash
A diet rich in prebiotic plant foods nourishes the gut microbiome

It’s no secret that gut health is a non-negotiable to achieving overall health. Maintaining levels of good bacteria in the gut microbiome can be done through a number of ways, including diet and the use of probiotics.

It starts with your diet. Good bacteria feast on fibers and nutrients in plant foods – these are prebiotics – and they turn these substances into nutrients that nourish your gut lining and keep your gut biome balanced.

Probiotics are live yeast and bacteria that naturally exist in the body, and can be supplemented through specific foods, beverages, and probiotic capsules. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha contain naturally occurring probiotics that replenish good bacteria in the gut.

Alternatively, probiotic supplements contain billions of bacteria from one or several bacteria strains that in specific, studied doses have benefits for your health. Here are some of the most famous and well-researched probiotic bacteria and yeasts that you will find in supplements:

Bifidobacterium Lactobacillus
Lactococcus Saccharomyces

☝️What Atlas Biomed says:☝️ the microbiome scientists at Atlas highlight that the benefits of probiotics may be temporary for some people, and only last as long as they are taking supplements.

How long does it take to repopulate the gut with good bacteria?

There’s no simple answer to this question because it depends on the state of your microbiome, the quality of your diet, any medication you take, your level of exercise and more. However, the gut microbiome is very adaptable and responds to positive lifestyle choices.

So if you eat a diet with lots of fiber-rich whole foods (something scientists like to call prebiotics) and add some probiotic foods or supplements, you can speed up your gut biome restoration. Plus, getting regular exercise, especially cardio, is associated with higher diversity in your gut.

How to restore healthy gut flora

A healthy diet combined with probiotic supplements can balance your gut’s good bacteria by replenishing what is killed off by antibiotics, both during and after a course of antibiotics. They can also prevent the most common side effect: antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
489
per 1,000 people – the number of antibiotic prescriptions per year in the UK

Probiotics are generally safe, and sometimes even recommended to take during a course of antibiotics, except for hospitalised patients and people with compromised immune systems. They are especially helpful afterward to support the recovery of your gut microbiome.

☝️TIP☝️ There is no such thing as a clean gut diet – your gut naturally cleans itself. However, you can help your gut bacteria keep you healthy with a plant-rich prebiotic diet.

What probiotics for antibiotic side effects?

Probiotics combat the effects of antibiotics on good gut bacteria
Probiotics combat the effects of antibiotics on good gut bacteria

Typically, it will take the body time to balance the microbiome to healthy, diverse bacteria levels. In fact, research shows that it takes about 6 months to recover from the damage done by antibiotics. And even then, the body might not even be back to its pre-antibiotic state.

Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast is particularly good at preventing and alleviating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and traveller’s diarrhea. It’s also a friend to your gut bacteria that supports good bacteria and prevents inflammation.

Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic bacterium best known for being in yoghurt is also great for your gut. Studies show that it’s good at treating and preventing infections, and reducing the digestive side effects of antibiotics.

Other bacteria that help recover from antibiotic use include:

  • L. casei
  • L. Rhamnosus GG
  • L. Plantarum 299v
  • B. subtilis
  • B. coagulans lactospore
  • B. clausii

What are the long-term effects of damaged gut health?

Not only is your body more susceptible to infection, weakened immunity, and chronic inflammation, but we also know that an imbalanced microbiota can increase risk for later-onset of chronic disease like heart disease, diabetes, even Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s.

The gut microbiome is the most bacterially diverse part of your body, and it’s impacted by what you eat, drink, your activity levels, and the medications you take. It may seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t take much to fix your gut: good food, regular exercise, and some help from probiotic bacteria.

Atlas Biomed Team
Atlas Biomed Team Makers of microbiome, DNA tests and bad puns
Buy test
Take care
of your health from home
with Atlas tests
Buy test

Featured topics

Microbiome
88 articles
Nutrition
67 articles
Lifestyle
61 articles
Health
39 articles
Digestive Health
39 articles
DNA
28 articles
Guide
28 articles
News
22 articles
Probiotics
18 articles
Food
17 articles
Beat The Bloat
12 articles
Sports
10 articles
Disease Protection
9 articles
Science Bites
8 articles
Love and sex
3 articles
Quiz
2 articles