The same infectious diseases that would have impaired or killed us in past generations are now easily halted through a simple course of antibiotic medication.
While I’m not in favor of contaminating our food supply with antibiotics, using them wisely in order to stop the progress of acute disease is extremely valuable.
One of their unfortunate side effects, however, is that antibiotic drugs are not selective in choosing which bacteria to kill. All the good bacterial colonies in the gut die along with the bad. Because of that, readers often write to me asking how to recover their gut health after a round of antibiotics.
Why is the balance of bacteria in the gut important?
More than 1000 trillion bacteria live in our digestive systems, which it needs to maintain a good balance in order to be healthy. (Did you know you have 10 times more bacterial cells in your body than you do human?) Toxins produced by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria can lead to inflammation and disorders such as leaky gut syndrome.
These disorders have a huge impact on your metabolism and overall health.
- weaken immune function
- cause hormonal imbalance
- lead to eczema
- cause insomnia
- and even create mood disorders such as anxiety.
With these symptoms of poor gut health in mind, it’s imperative you take immediate action to restore gut health after a round of antibiotic treatment.
But, before you begin…
Understanding your digestive health is crucial to repairing your gut effectively after a course of antibiotics.
If you follow the guidelines in this post but have a chronic diet of processed, refined, industrialized dead foods, you may not be able to repair your gut because it’s “normal” state may be one of disrepair.
A traditional real food diet can make a huge difference in how healthy your intestinal tract is, so reviewing these principles is a necessary first step.
The one-two punch for restoring gut health.
If you already follow a traditional real food diet, but suffered intestinal damage due to a course of antibiotics, the obvious solution is to: first, repair what has been damaged, and second, re-introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive process.
The three best ways to do this have been proven through experience.
1. Eat more bone broth.
Your grandmother or great-grandmother may have offered real chicken soup (not the stuff you buy in cans) to anyone who was sick with the flu or a cold.
This was not just a gesture to offer comfort to someone who is ill, but real chicken soup contained bone broth which introduced lots of minerals and beneficial amino acids, including glutamine, into the body.
Studies have shown that there is a significant link between glutamine and the repair of the epithelial lining of the gut.
If you can’t make bone broth at home, you may want to consider buying bone broth from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals online.
2. Eat more fermented foods.
Fermented foods can help to re-introduce beneficial bacteria into your digestive system.
Cultures around the world have been consuming living, active fermented foods for millennia, and reaping the benefits.
The primary benefit of fermentation is that it introduces living, vital probiotics into the digestive system. Lacto-bacillus bacteria cultures produce lactic acid, which acts as an agent to increase the nutrients that are present, as well as improving the taste and preserving foods for safe consumption.
Eating more fermented foods doesn’t just help repopulated gut flora, but helps keep your intestinal tract strong. The carbohydrates and sugars in living foods turns into alcohol and beneficial acids that can protect the immune system and balance the metabolism.
Homemade, craft fermented pickle relish, chutneys, homemade sauerkraut and fermented dairy products like buttermilk, kefir, sour cream, and homemade raw yogurt can all help to repopulate gut flora and restore your digestive system to its optimal health.
Living cultures contain the beneficial bacteria that your body needs in order to stay in balance. Traditional cultures throughout history on every continent have known this, but it has gradually been forgotten in our culture of processed dead food that is robbed of its nutritional value.
Need an Easy Guide to Get Started Eating More Fermented Foods?
I’ve created a nifty, print-friendly, easy-to-follow collection of 7 naturally probiotic recipes your kids (and you!) will love.
3. Take therapeutic grade probiotics.
Lastly, you may want to guide the process of recovering your gut health by implementing high-quality probiotics.
I rarely recommend supplements to a real food lifestyle, but this is an exception. Good probiotics can aid in the introduction of good bacteria into your digestive system, and many report that they improve their overall health in a much shorter period of time.
I would also recommend consuming fermented cod liver oil because of its capacity to reduce inflammation.
Listen to your body!
If antibiotics have helped you to recover from infectious disease, it’s critical to continue your recovery.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore your gut, whether you have had to take a course of antibiotics or not.
The importance of your digestive system as a “second brain” in maintaining physical and mental health is vital to maintaining a healthy diet.
(photo credit: adossphoto)