What You Should Eat During and After Antibiotics + Foods to Avoid

6 minute read

Antibiotics are a great defense against bacterial infections. The problem is that they are unable to distinguish between the bacteria causing your sickness and those beneficial ones keeping your gut healthy. Some antibiotics can also cause unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhea, or more serious problems, like liver damage.  

Eating certain foods while taking antibiotics can prevent this.

Understanding Antibiotics

Antibiotics are important medications that treat bacterial infections. They attack bacteria, killing them and stopping the infection from spreading. Many people don't realize that there are different types of antibiotics, but it's important to know what they are. Some are designed to kill only specific bacteria, whereas others work on a broader range of infection-causing bacteria.

As helpful as antibiotics are in killing harmful bacteria and preventing infections, they can cause some unpleasant side effects too. Excessive use of antibiotics can cause liver damage, and studies have found that antibiotics are the most common medications to cause injury to the liver.

They can also kill the good bacteria that live in your gut. These bacteria are essential to immunity, and killing them can be bad for your health.

Taking antibiotics can change the bacterial community in your body, and the changes may be long-lasting. A course of antibiotics for one week can change the makeup of your gut microbiome for a whole year. In this time, you are at greater risk of harmful bacterial strains being allowed to colonize in the gut.

It can also cause an increase in weight, as the harmful strains interfere with healthy digestion.

Eating While Taking Antibiotics

Probiotics are found naturally in foods or can be taken as high-quality supplements, and these support your gut microbiome by working in opposition to the antibiotics. Probiotics will not only reduce your risk of antibiotic-related side effects like diarrhea, but they will also keep your gut community balanced and healthy. You're better protected from disease and illness when your gut is balanced.

Because antibiotics will kill probiotic bacteria, you want to be sure to take them a few hours apart and never at the same time. Probiotics should be taken during the course of any antibiotic medication, as well as afterward. Because the effects of antibiotics can last well after the course is finished, continued probiotic consumption will ensure plenty of good bacteria remain in your body.

Fermented foods like yogurt, cheese, kimchi, and sauerkraut all contain probiotics and can also be consumed during a course of antibiotics. These foods contain Lactobacilli, which is a type of bacteria that has been found to be very effective at restoring bacterial balance in your gut. When more of this type of bacteria is consumed, there are fewer disease-causing bacteria found in the gut, so they can help counteract antibiotic damage while also promoting gut health.

Getting plenty of fiber is known to help promote efficient digestion, but it can also help during a course of antibiotics. Your body is not able to break fiber down, but the bacteria in your gut can, and they love it.

A high-fiber diet helps to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria and can restore any balance lost by way of antibiotic medications. The best high-fiber foods to eat include:

♦ Nuts

♦ Seeds

♦ Beans

♦ Lentils

♦ Berries

♦ Bananas

♦ Whole grains

♦ Broccoli

♦ Artichokes

A high-fiber diet not only stimulates good bacteria growth, but it can also reduce the growth of harmful strains. By allowing beneficial strains to flourish, harmful ones are unable to grow and cannot cause infection.

Dietary fiber also slows down your digestion, which will also slow the rate at which medications are absorbed. Because of this, you want to avoid high-fiber meals during a course of antibiotics, but be sure to add it back to the diet once you are done.

Probiotics work best with prebiotics, so to get the best from them you need to feed them what they want. Prebiotics are foods that feed your probiotics and gut bacteria. High-fiber foods are a good example of prebiotics, along with red wine and cocoa. These contain antioxidants that can't be digested by your body but can be digested by probiotics.

Eating prebiotics helps to repair any damage done to the gut bacteria during antibiotic treatment.

| Related: Best Probiotic Strains for Weight Loss + Supplement & Food Tips |

What to Avoid When Taking Antibiotics

There are also certain foods to avoid, specifically those that may interfere with antibiotic activity. Grapefruit is one such food that should be avoided during a course of antibiotics. This fruit, along with certain medications, is broken down by a specific enzyme. When consumed at the same time, your body is unable to fully break down the medication. This results in too much medication being present in your blood, which can be dangerous.

Calcium also interferes with antibiotic absorption so should be avoided while taking medication. Yogurt is both a probiotic food and one that contains calcium. Thankfully, it hasn't been found to have this inhibitory effect.

Studies have found that foods that have been supplemented with calcium are the ones to avoid, most likely because of the very high amounts of calcium added. The lower doses in yogurt are safe, and the probiotics help restore gut balance.

The Bottom Line

Be sure to promote a healthy amount of good bacteria during and after a course of antibiotics to ensure your health isn't jeopardized. As beneficial as antibiotics are, we also need to take care when using them. Without them, we wouldn't be able to fight some serious bacterial infections, but they can cause damage if we aren't careful.

Always make sure you take the antibiotics as instructed, and never for longer than advised, to avoid overuse and liver damage. This will help to protect your liver, and prevent the development of super bacteria.

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