The effect of antibiotics on the digestive system

Everyone’s heard of antibiotic resistance, that is quite simply a type of medicine resistance where a microorganism is able to overcome exposure to an antibiotic. This unfortunate trend is assumed to have come about as a result of over-prescription and reliance on antibiotics.

However, long-term usage and unneccessary use of antibiotics has various key side effects, besides resistance. One of the most well-known effects is their effect on the digestive tract and the balance of micro flora in the gut. 

How can antibiotics impact the digestive system?

Antibiotics perform by either wiping out bacteria (bacteriocidal antibiotics) or by keeping bacteria from growing (bacteriostatic antibiotics).

Without doubt, they can be effective in dealing with bacterial infections, despite the antibiotic resistance that occurs. Nonetheless, as stated before, they do present a threat of negative effects.

One of the leading complications of antibiotic use is that, whilst they’re intended to destroy bacterial cells, they can’t be made specific to only harmful bacteria (i.e. the pathogen responsible for the disease). Unfortunately, they also get rid of the vital “friendly” bacteria in the human body.

Friendly bacteria live in their millions throughout the body – on the skin, in openings including the mouth, nose area and vagina and, most significantly, in the intestines of the digestive system. They undertake essential functions at all of these areas, however their principal role is to defend our bodies against potential pathogens. The antibiotics are therefore messing up our bodies’ natural ability to safeguard itself in the future.

Just how could an imbalance of intestinal flora affect your health?

Healthy intestinal flora is vital for a number of bodily processes, including forming stools, sustaining a robust gastrointestinal system and making essential vitamins (such as B vitamins). However, they are most important to the proper functioning of our immune systems.

You might be shocked to be told that the most important part of our immune system is in our gut. The truth is, seventy percent of all antibody producing cells within the body are located in what is named “Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue” or GALT. This represents the largest group of immune cells in the body.

An imbalance of gut flora can have a number of distressing side effects and manifest  in lots of ways. For instance, fungi (such as Candida albicans) and bacteria like pathogenic strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and C difficile are sure to seize the chance given by the body’s lower protection and are then much better able to develop a great deal more easily. This is the reason why antibiotic courses generally trigger thrush (a yeast infection caused by Candida overgrowth).

In a similar fashion, C difficile infections have become prevalent in hospital wards and rest homes over the last ten years. The reason is, after antibiotic therapies, the C difficile can grow speedily in the absence of the body’s natural constraints. The bacteria create toxins that irritate and eliminate the cells that line the large intestine, be a catalyst for intense diarrhea and internal hemorrhaging. Other digestive problems and complaints are also really common, such as dysbiosis, toxic bowels and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to name but a few.

Various scientific tests have also identified disparities between the gut flora of chronically overweight men and women and those of the ideal size, suggesting that an imbalance may possibly affect your weight and/or mean that it is tougher to lose weight.

Maintaining a healthy balance of healthy and harmful bacteria 

Studies show that the harm done by antibiotics to the gut persists for a far longer time than was once imagined. Stanford University research workers in the United States looked at the beneficial gut bacteria in three fit adult women both before and after each of 2 rounds on the antibiotic Cipro. Following the initial cycle, they noted that the medication altered the population of the subjects’ good bacteria in the gut drastically, possibly even permanently. Following the second cycle 6 months later, they found that the impact was even greater.

Consequently, it is advisable to use antibiotics only when essential, i.e. when an infection is bad enough to cause pain and distress, or is life threatening or a risk to others. They should never be applied as a recurring “quick fix” for slight ailments and long courses ought to be avoided wherever realistically possible.

In the event antibiotic use is unavoidable, a lot of people find it helpful to supplement their diets with additional friendly bacteria (called probiotics), before, during and after the programme of antibiotics is finished. It’s thought that this will help to replenish the gut with the friendly bacteria that the antibiotics have erased.

Specialist Supplements Ltd offer a selection of high quality probiotics, including:

Multi-Flora ProBio: An 8-strain spectrum of friendly lactic bacteria, which should inhabit a healthy gut. 4 billion viable (living) probiotic organisms per vegetable cellulose capsule. Suitable for vegetarians.

ProBiotic MAX: Practitioner strength of 20 billion live probiotic bacteria per vegetable cellulose capsule. Also provides 8 strains of friendly bacteria for full spectrum support of the whole digestive and intestinal system. Suitable for vegetarians.

InternaCALM: A yeast probiotic, which contains 5 billion cfu Saccharomyces boulardii per vegetarian capsule. Suitable for vegetarians.

Check them out now by clicking on any of the links above!

* Before taking supplements, you are recommended to consult a physician or qualified health practitioner – particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or on medication.

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