Why we need to take friendly bacteria both alongside and following antibiotics
Our gut bacteria (microbiome) is fundamental to our health and has a wide range of functions in our body – including anti-inflammatory and immune influence, providing essential nutrients, defending against pathogens and supporting the structure of the gastrointestinal tract.
Maintaining a balance of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ bacteria is key to ensuring these functions are carried out efficiently.
Antibiotics still the most common medication prescribed for children and are also high on the list of medications prescribed to adults. They are designed to kill bacteria that cause disease, but do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria – they destroy all bacteria indiscriminately.
As a result, taking antibiotics can quickly lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiota – and balance may not be restored once the course of antibiotics is complete.
This gives the pathogenic (bad) bacteria chance to take over, can cause side effects such as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and can lead to permanent changes in the structure of our microbiome.
Research has shown that taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can reduce the adverse effects of the antibiotics on the gut bacteria, helping to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our digestive tract. Studies have also shown that taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can help to support the effectiveness and reduce the side effects of the antibiotics, helping to ensure the full course is completed.
Choosing a friendly bacteria supplement
There are a number of key factors to consider when choosing a friendly bacteria supplement to take alongside your antibiotics – including a high number of multiple strains of friendly bacteria, researched and manufactured by an experienced, reputable brand.
The following diagram lists everything to look for before buying friendly bacteria:
Take good care of yourself
Finally, remember to look after yourself well if you have any form of infection that requires antibiotics – take your friendly bacteria as instructed below throughout the whole antibiotic course and be sure to rest, hydrate and eat healthily.
6 things to remember when taking antibiotics:
Take the antibiotics as prescribed and always complete the full course
Think about taking a probiotic supplement at the same time to support your friendly bacteria
Always take the probiotics at least two hours away from the antibiotic doses (so the antibiotics do not kill the probiotic bacteria)
Eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, herbs and spices for gut support and reduce sugar and alcohol intake
Get enough rest to allow your body to work with the antibiotics to fight the infection
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other healthy liquids, such as bone broth (which also supports the gut)
 Vangay P et al (2015) Antibiotics, Pediatric Dysbiosis, and Disease. Cell Host Microbe 17(5):553-564
 https://www.nesta.org.uk/news/antibiotics-gps-still-erring-on-side-of-caution-despite-patients-requesting-less/ 13 Nov 2017
 Petersen C & Round JL (2014) Defining dysbiosis and its influence on host immunity and disease Cell Microbiol 16(7):1024-1033
 Madden JAJ et al (2005) Effect of probiotics on preventing disruption of the intestinal microflora following antibiotic therapy: A double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study. Int Immunopharmacol 5:1091-1097
 Round JL & Mazmanian SK (2009) The gut microbiome shapes intestinal immune responses during health and disease Nat Rev Immunol 9(5):313-323
 Plummer SF et al (2005) Effects of probiotics on the composition of the intestinal microbiota following antibiotic therapy. Int J Antimicrob Agents 26:69-74
The gut microbiome
Each of us has around 100,000 billion live bacteria living in our intestines.
Probiotics & Antibiotics
Research has shown that taking friendly bacteria (probiotics) alongside antibiotics can help to maintain a healthy balance of the bacteria in the gut.
Should I take probiotics with food?
If live bacteria supplements are not taken alongside food, 90-95% of the bacteria will die in the stomach acid.