Antibiotics are commonly prescribed drugs that inhibit or kill the growth of micro-organisms in the body. They are used either:

  1. as a primary intervention to treat bacterial infection or
  2. to prevent infection (following surgery, for instance).

While antibiotics are highly effective, they can also lead to a number of unpleasant side effects. One of these side effects is the death of a large amount of ‘good’ bacteria, causing a bacterial imbalance in your gut. This, in turn,  causes several common anti-biotic side effects such as diarrhoea and nausea. Other side effects also include intestinal discomfort and flatulence. This is simply because, along with killing harmful bacteria (as was intended), antibiotics also destroy many of the important, beneficial micro-organisms that make up the intestinal flora and help digestion and good health.

How do Probiotics Help?

Taking a probiotic (a supplement of food that contains more of this ‘good bacteria’) can help to restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut that is often affected by antibiotics. This additional ‘good’ bacteria helps a number of digestive and immune functions in our body, and importantly prevents the proliferation of ‘bad’ bacteria which can make us sick. As such, taking a probiotic can work to either minimise the severity of, or totally negate, the unpleasant side effects of taking antibiotics. A healthy balance of “good” bacteria is important for maintaining everyday health, digestive health and immunity and probiotics help you achieve this.

Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis in particular have been shown to be effective in preventing antibiotic-associated imbalances. In a double-blind controlled study, patients who received both antibiotics and Lactobacillus did not develop diarrhoea. This result is particularly important for elderly and immune-compromised people.

If you are taking a course of antibiotics, taking a probiotic during and for several weeks after can help to replenish gut flora balance. It is recommended that probiotics are taken at least two hours from antibiotics, within 30 minutes of eating or as recommended by your healthcare professional.

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This article was provided by our friends at health365. For mroe information on the benefits of probiotics, visit Health365.com.au.