On antibiotics? Here’s why probiotics are your BFF.

On antibiotics? Here’s why probiotics are your BFF.

  • Probiotics 101

  • By Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

    Getting sick is no fun…we want to do everything we can to feel better, fast. Perhaps because of this, we have a tendency to overdo antibiotics. If you have a cold – caused by a virus – antibiotics aren’t going to help. What you need is rest, water and good food.

    If you have a bacterial infection like strep throat, however, antibiotics are a lifesaver…but they aren’t such a gift for your gut.

    In order to understand how antibiotics affect your gut, you have to learn a little more about your bacterial world. You have trillions of bacteria that live in and on your body – and no, they don’t make you sick (put away that hand sanitizer already!).

    Your intestinal flora – the community of beneficial bacteria that live in your gut – is there to improve digestion, protect your gut and support your immune system. You may not be able to see them, but these tiny soldiers are on the front lines, keeping potential infectors at bay.

    Antibiotics aren’t bacterial sharp shooters. Most antibiotics in use are called ‘broad spectrum’, meaning that while antibiotics kill the bad bacteria, they also tend to kill off a ton of innocent bacterial bystanders to get the job done. When this happens, that tiny army of good bacteria is weakened and other bad bacteria in the gut can take over…to, ahem, unpleasant effect.

    The most common side-effect of antibiotic is diarrhea…which is a sign that something is seriously off in your gut. It happens because, when the beneficial bugs are weakened, some gnarly bugs see an opportunity to cause an infection. And sometimes, the bugs are particularly nasty: some of these infections are actually caused by a bacteria called Clostridium difficile…otherwise known as the ‘superbug’ C.diff. It’s called a superbug because of its power to resist antibiotic therapy (AKA, it’s bad news). The balance of bacterial power in your gut is so critical that a single course of antibiotics can continue to have side effects, such as an increased risk for gut troubles, for up to two years!

    This is where probiotics come in. Wondering what are probiotics’ benefits? Some probiotics, such as the clinically-tested formula in Bio-K+ probiotic pills and drinks, have the amazing ability to populate and protect your own tiny army from these opportunistic bugs. Backed by research, Bio-K+ is the only probiotic in Canada with indications from Health Canada to both prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea AND C.diff associated diarrhea. Think of them as a shield: the antibiotics kill off the bad guys while Bio-K+ steps in and protects the good guys until the assault is over. Whenever you take antibiotics, take one Bio-K+ daily, at least 2 hours after your antibiotic dose…and keep it going for five days after the antibiotics are done.

    When you are feeling unwell, always go see your doctor but remember, not all bugs need drugs. Should you find yourself with a prescription for antibiotics, be sure to pick up Bio-K+, Health Canada approved to help you prevent the gnarly side effects of antibiotic use.

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    Desiree Nielsen Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vegetarian cooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
    View all articles by Desiree Nielsen
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