While we want to always encourage a preventative approach when it comes to health and wellness, sometimes things catch us by surprise and we come down with something much more insistent than the occasional virus or flu. And although it’s been well established that over dependence on antibiotics can weaken gut health, sometimes you just can’t avoid it. For those times you have to take antibiotics, we want you to know there are ways of working through it with the best body support possible.
As an antibiotics kills off infection-causing microorganisms in the body, they also take a wide indiscriminate swipe at the beneficial bacterial in your microbiome. Therefore, overuse of antibiotics (and for an already taxed digestive system, even a single round) has been seen to cause leaky-gut to manifest. Depending on the course of the prescription, it can actually devastate the biome. In fact, studies indicate up to a 10-fold reduction in “good bugs” immediately after treatment!
That’s why we’re offering a series of 1-2 punches to really jumpstart your recovery. And there’s no need to wait till the course is done, there are many benefits to supporting your body from day one. So, if you can: start including these tips into your recovery plans right away, and continue them even after the treatment has finished to ensure the best possible healing.
6 Ways to Heal Your Gut Flora After Antibiotics
1. Clean Up Your Diet
One of the best ways to keep us healthy is to follow the wisdom of Hippocrates and “let food be our medicine”. This means it’s important to educate each other about the effects of processed foods, GMOs, and every other aspect of the Industrial Food Complex that contributes to the Standard American Diet (SAD). Especially if you’ve been getting sick more often, feel run down, are plagued by one or more chronic conditions or preconditions, now is the time for nutrient density by focusing on foods in their whole organic form: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pastured dairy, eggs, wild fish or seafood, and high quality organic, pastured meats. By choosing food from nature, forage, and responsible farmers, you are not only providing a great base for your own gut bacteria to heal, but you’re helping to heal the soil too.
2. Bring in the 3 G’s: Glutamine, Glycine & Gelatin
Until recently, these 3G’s have become rather absent in our food culture. If you’ve been seeing the rise in discussion of bone broths and their benefits, it’s because they are very particularly rich sources of L-glutamine, glycine (both amino acids), and gelatin, which have been proven to heal and soothe the gut lining. Studies show that there is a significant link between glutamine and the repair of the epithelial lining of the gut. Including the 3G’s in your diet and healing protocol can also help to balance methionine levels in the body (available in most animal foods, and some beans) and can lead to inflammation and acidosis. If you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan choice, try MSM, which also helps rebuild the lining of the digestive tract. All of these options works to heal leaky gut by sealing the lining, and stopping food particles from leaching through the gut wall’s small junction openings, thereby lessening inflammation and allergic responses to foods.
3. Resistant Starch + Probiotics
Now you’re ready to begin – and we recommend doing so slowly – adding resistant starch in to help the proliferation of probiotics to provide the most efficient and gentle re-colonization of good bacteria.
The main reason why resistant starch is so beneficial is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in our colons, transforming them into the much-needed short chain fatty acids that reduce inflammation (like butyrate). In doing so, they support normal gut function, including motility, and elimination of toxins, which also works well in our favor by increasing electrolyte absorption. This means, our body converts energy across the cells more efficiently. It increases the production of B vitamins like biotin (great for hair) and folate, and vitamin K, which is a powerhouse for the blood. By simply adding good sources of resistant starch, we increase our gut immunity by nearly 80%.
4. Support Your Liver
Whenever we get sick, the liver usually needs our help. And when we add foreign substances and chemicals into our body, such as the case with antibiotics, our livers take on an even bigger load. So what better way to jump-start the healing process by helping the liver to do its job? Milk thistle seed is a great whole herb to incorporate, ground and capsulated or as a tea. Another great way to gently cleanse the liver is to start your morning with warm water and fresh lemon.
It’s said that more than 70% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration, and even mistake hunger for thirst. Our cellular structure, in order to function and hold its proper form needs proper hydration. In order to digest our food, we need proper hydration, and to detox: we need to be hydrated. That means one of the best things you can do for your gut is to drink clean water. Starting with two liters a day. That’s water; not tea, not coffee, not juice: but the glorious life-sustaining H2O.
6. Take it Easy
Finally, in order to heal your gut, make sure to create opportunities for the “more-than-food methods” of nourishing the gut by incorporating anti-stress moments throughout your day and week. Take a bath, go for hike, enjoy a favorite movie with friends, or try a restorative yoga class. In other words, be gentle with yourself, and make time to de-stress and relax.
Thankfully, our guts respond quickly to our meal choices, so please know you can effect positive change in just 3 days.