Now when you’re sick, you're sick, and sometimes that leads you to taking antibiotics. I will NEVER guilt you about taking tablets that a trained doctor prescribed for your health, instead I’ll help you to understand the effect of these tablets on your body and 5 tips you can do to heal your gut after taking antibiotics, to be healthier than ever.
A few weeks ago I had pneumonia. I was taking 2 different antibiotics, 4 times a day to kick it. It worked and within 5 days I was functioning again. Now that I’m 2 weeks on, I’m feeling ok-ish, fatigued, but good. Taking antibiotics didn’t sit well with me because I know they kill not just the bad bacteria in the body, but all of the good guys too. Antibiotics don’t know which is which – they just settle on in there and set off a bomb, an antibiotic bomb. The pickle is that the majority of our bacteria is in our gut, especially the good guys who control our immune system and fight illness. Sadly, these good guys are wiped out with the tablets too. For a little context (and some trivia)… There is 10 times more bacteria in the digestive system than there are cells in the body. And for some more… After every course of antibiotics, it can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months for the good gut flora to grow back. That’s why you see people taking multiple courses of antibiotics, or they get better and a month later they are ill again, their good gut flora just hasn’t returned to fight the new bugs.
Here’s are 5 tips to get you feeling well again after taking antibiotics:
- Eat real, whole foods – The last thing the body needs when it’s healing is over-processed food filled with additives and preservatives. What it needs is real, whole foods. So, ditch the packaged food, avoid the restaurants (just for a while) and takeaway bars and instead, cook whole, real food from scratch.
How? Make my lamb shank pie - I make it in the slow cooker so I can rest. and I leave the pastry off the top and eat it just as is with some steamed greens.
- Drink bone broth – Bone broth (and the gelatine that releases from the bones as they cook) will help the body heal by restoring the lining in the gut that has been damaged during the course of antibiotics. Broths are also fantastic anti-inflammatory foods too, which again are great for healing the gut and ridding the body of illness.
How? Make chicken broth by boiling a few chicken carcasses in water with a little fresh ginger and garlic and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Allow it to simmer in a slow cooker for 12 - 24 hours if you can. Strain the liquid and drink the broth from a cup a few times a day and/or use it to cook your food in, e.g. steam vegetables, cook rice in it etc.
- Eat lots of probiotic-rich foods – Probiotics are the good guys, they breed in the gut and their numbers can be increased by you eating probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut, kefir or taken as a supplement; often in a tablet or a powder form by the little ones.
How? Eat good quality yoghurt (e. full fat and with no sugar), miso soup, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh and kimchi. Also, take a really good probiotic supplement. This is the one my family takes.
- Eat lots of prebiotics – Prebiotics are food for the probiotics (the good guys). Prebiotics are found in certain foods that actually don’t digest until they reach the large intestine. Why? Interestingly, these foods are left whole (after chewing of course) so that the good bacteria (probiotics) can feed off it, allowing them to grow big and strong.
How? Prebiotics are naturally found in many foods such as legumes, rye, onions, garlic, leeks, raw honey, bananas and supplementary fibres such as psyllium, pectin, guar gum and slippery elm. Eat them however you like. Just get them in.
- Avoid sugar – Sugar is often colonised in the gut. The problem with introducing it into a digestive system that is all but wiped out is that it will encourage these bad guys to grow. This will lead to yeast infections, ear infections, weight gain and ongoing cravings that get worse and worse. Stay away from sugar.
How? Prepare savoury, whole food snacks. I made a big batch of my Sweet Potato Pikelets from my latest eBook, A Healthy Lunchbox, to snack on.
There is always good that comes from bad, and in this case, adopting one or more of my suggestions may just lead you to building a healthy gut and an immune system that is stronger than ever before.
Have you got any ideas on ways to get better after an illness? Or some tips that you have used after taking antibiotics? I’d love for you to 'comment' below and let me know. I love other ideas and by commenting, you’ll be helping not just me but so many others to get healthy too.