Gut bacteria, microflora, probiotics- these all make up the guts microbiome. A fantastic organism which helps to regulate many different aspects of health, all from the comfort of your gut. When antibiotics are used this is the main area of the body which is impacted.
The development of antibiotics was an amazing turning point in medical history, and we have them to thank for many of us being here today without the risk of contracting a disease that could kill us; like so many did prior to the discovery of penicillin in 1928.
But what we are now dealing with, is the over use of antibiotics and the impact that it is having on current pathogens in terms of antibiotic resistant bugs as well as the overall impact that they have on our microbiome.
Different antibiotics will have different impacts on the microbiome, with amoxicillin caused marked shifts in microbiome composition that lasted approximately 30 days on average and were observed for more than 2 months in some individuals. If you are having one course of antibiotics every 5 years then this really isn't to much of an issue for you. But if you are having 5 courses of antibiotics over the space of 6 months you can see how your gut bacteria will really take a battering. There is simply no way your body is able to recover a healthy microbiome if every few weeks another round of antibiotics is being administered. A study found that he biodiversity of the bacteria in the gut microbiome, decreases during the use of antibiotics, to the point of reaching its minimum 11 days after the beginning of antibiotic use.
When the microboime is impacted and an imbalance between the beneficial and pathogenic bacteria is reached this is called dysbiosis. Dysbiosis of the microbiome has been associated with a large number of health problems including metabolic, immunological, and developmental disorders, as well as susceptibility to development of infectious diseases. Dysbiosis also effects the function on the digestive tract, impacting nutrient supply to the body by reducing absorption, reducing the production of certain vitamin and impacting the guts ability to protect itself from pathogens.
As we have discussed, antibiotics can imp at the gut micro biome at all stages of life, but in particular it can have a profound long term effect on the body when they are given to infants. Antibiotic exposure during infancy has been found to increase the risk of overweight in preadolescence for boys, as well as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These findings support the notion that the microbiome has a strong role in metabolic disease.
So what can be done to protect your microbiome?
Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use and over-use
Include fermented foods in your diet. i.e. yogurt, kombucha, miso, kefir, sauerkraut
eat a balanced diet with plenty of fibre
Take a broad spectrum, strong probiotic after a course of antibiotics.