What to Do to Restore Gut Flora After Taking Antibiotics (Foods to Eat, Prebiotics, Probiotics)

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What to Do After Taking Antibiotics to Restore Gut Flora (Foods to Eat, Prebiotics, Probiotics)

After taking antibiotics, it is important to take probiotics and eat the proper foods to prevent gastrointestinal upset and help restore gut flora. A course of antibiotics can upset the delicate flora in your gut because they destroy both the bad and good bacteria. Foods like plain yogurt, bananas, and whole-grain cereals help to boost the number of good bacteria to restore your gut flora.


Although we sometimes need antibiotics to treat serious infections, they don’t discriminate between harmful and beneficial bacteria. This change in the gut flora can cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea, vomiting, vaginal itching, and skin rashes.

What to Do After (or While) Taking Antibiotics – an Overview

To avoid the side effects of antibiotics, it’s important to know when to take probiotics after taking antibiotics. You also need to know which foods to eat when taking antibiotics and which foods are best to avoid.

Consume prebiotics

The first thing to do when taking antibiotics is to take prebiotics to help restore the microflora in your gut.

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that act as a “food source” for probiotics. There are many foods that contain prebiotics and you can also buy prebiotic supplements. (7)

Consume probiotics

The second thing to do while on antibiotics is to take probiotics or consume foods containing probiotics.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for gut health. As with prebiotics, you can get probiotics from foods or supplements. Some popular probiotic strains are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces. (8) Probiotics are also found in fermented foods such as kefir, natural yogurt, kombucha (type of fermented tea), miso and tempeh.

You can take probiotics with antibiotics if you wait for 2 hours or so after taking the antibiotic pill. You should also continue to take probiotics after the course of antibiotics has finished.

Avoid processed sugar

The third thing to do is to avoid processed sugar that can feed the growth of bad bacteria. At the same time, you should consume foods that are easy on your digestion and contain probiotics to prevent the side effects of taking antibiotics.

To sum it up, after taking antibiotics, make sure you eat right, and avoid being naughty. Load up on greens and vegetables, skip processed sugars, and eat fermented foods. In this way you’ll repopulate your gut with good bacteria and restore your immune function.

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Taking Probiotics During and After a Course of Antibiotics

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat serious bacterial infections that can sometimes be life-threatening. There are some unpleasant side effects of taking antibiotics that include gastrointestinal upset, yeast infections, and rashes. (1)

The Yonsei Medical Journal reports that antibiotics upset the intestinal microbiota and can cause antibiotic-associated diseases. The most common side effect of taking antibiotics is diarrhea. (2)

Other studies into the effect of antibiotics on gut health have shown that taking antibiotics can cause Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) infections that can cause inflammation of the colon. Research has also found that interfering with the gut microflora can also impact the immune system and put you at risk of further infection. (3)

Scientific research shows why you should take probiotics after taking antibiotics. For example, a systematic review of 20 trials found that probiotics can help to prevent C. diff. infections that cause diarrhea. (4)

Another review of clinical trials involving more than 3,400 children found that various probiotic strains can help to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children. (5)

One study found that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 was effective in reducing and preventing diarrhea in people taking antibiotics. Taking 2 probiotic supplements 2 times a day for 4 weeks helped to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. (6)

Probiotics to Restore Gut Flora After Taking Antibiotics

Many studies point to the effectiveness of taking probiotic supplements to restore the microflora of your gut. This is usually necessary after taking antibiotics or when you have had gastroenteritis.

The Journal of Family Practice reports that taking probiotics while taking antibiotics can help to “replenish the natural GI (gastrointestinal) flora.” A meta-analysis of over 30 randomized controlled trials found that probiotics can both prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea. (9)

The researchers concluded that the positive effect of probiotics in restoring gut flora is a reason to pair antibiotics with probiotics. In fact, the result of the meta-analysis found that taking probiotics along with antibiotics resulted in a 66% reduction of C. diff. infections. (9)

Taking probiotics is an effective way to recover from taking antibiotics.

Taking Antibiotics and Probiotics

You can take probiotics while you are taking a course of antibiotics but you shouldn’t take them both at exactly the same time.

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Antibiotics are designed to kill off all bacteria in your gut – harmful and beneficial bacteria. So, taking a probiotic supplement right after taking an antibiotic pill may result in all the good bacteria getting destroyed as well.

The journal Antibiotics reports on various studies on when and how long you should take probiotics. Some studies indicate that you should take probiotics 5 to 10 days during antibiotic treatment and continue for one week after finishing the course of antibiotics. (10)

Other studies recommend taking probiotics for as long as the antibiotic treatment lasts. However, some reports indicate that taking probiotics for as long as 8 weeks can help to restore healthy gut flora. (10)

To get the most benefit from probiotics, it is good to wait for around 2 hours after taking an antibiotic pill. This will help to offset the negative impact that antibiotics have on your gut and prevent diarrhea.

To make sure that you get the full benefit from probiotics, you should always take probiotics with food. The journal Beneficial Microbes advises to take a probiotic supplement with a meal or 30 minutes before it. Also, you should preferably take probiotics with a meal containing some fats. (26)

Prebiotics to Help Restore Gut Health After Antibiotics

To help boost the effectiveness of taking probiotics after antibiotics, you should also take prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that act as a food source for good bacteria in your gut.

The British Journal of Nutrition reported that prebiotics help to strengthen the gut against pathogens. Prebiotics have a positive impact on the health of the large intestine in humans. (11)

For example, the prebiotic supplement galacto-oligosaccharides has been shown to help prevent the negative impact of taking amoxicillin on your gut. The prebiotic helped increase the activity of bifidobacteria and improve gut health. (12)

Other studies have proved that prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides can help prevent various gastrointestinal infections. These can also help good gut bacteria strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to flourish in the gut. (13)

The Best Foods to Eat After Taking Antibiotics

Another thing to do after taking antibiotics is to eat proper foods to lessen the impact of medication on your gut.

If you have diarrhea from antibiotics, here are some of the best foods you can consume while taking antibiotics. You can also add these foods to your diet after your antibiotic course has finished to maintain good gut health.

Consume fermented foods while taking antibiotics

Many fermented foods contain probiotics and can help to restore normal gut flora that has been disrupted by antibiotics. Here are a few of the best probiotic-foods.

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Yogurt. You can eat raw yogurt when taking antibiotics because it contains strains of healthy bacteria. One study found that people who consume yogurt have more Bifidobacterium (type of good gut bacteria) in their gut. (14) Other studies have shown that raw yogurt containing Lactobacillus casei can positively influence gastrointestinal health. (15) Yogurt is also one of the best foods for treating yeast infection.

Some studies seem to indicate that calcium-enriched foods may inhibit the absorption of certain medications. (15) However, this has not been proved with calcium-rich dairy products when taking moxifloxacin. (16)

Kefir. This is a fermented milk drink that contains many types of good gut bacteria. Several studies have shown that kefir has antimicrobial, antitumor and anticarcinogenic activity. Consuming kefir can also boost your immune system and improve lactose digestion. (17)

Kimchi. Another probiotic food you can take after antibiotics is kimchi. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables (most commonly cabbage) with probiotic lactic acid bacteria. Studies have shown that kimchi contains probiotic properties that have a positive effect on your gut health and immune system. (18)

Consume prebiotic foods to help restore gut flora after taking antibiotics

Many foods naturally have prebiotics that can help to promote good gastrointestinal health. Here are just a few prebiotic foods you can consume while taking antibiotics:

Garlic. Garlic has many health benefits inducing having antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that garlic also benefits the gut’s microflora because of its prebiotic content. Garlic can help increase the number of bifidobacteria and can help prevent some gastrointestinal disorders. (20)

Did you know that garlic has many uses to keep you healthy because of its medicinal properties?

Banana. Eating bananas while you are taking antibiotics is good because they are easy to digest and contain prebiotics. The journal Anaerobe reported that bananas contain fiber with prebiotic characteristics. Eating a banana or two a day can help to increase beneficial bacteria levels in your gut. (21)

Find out more about the health benefits of consuming bananas regularly.

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Cocoa. Cocoa contains antioxidants and it is a prebiotic food. One study found that consuming cocoa products improved the microflora of the human gut and has prebiotic benefits. (22) Learn more about how to boost your health with cocoa-derived foods.

Jerusalem artichoke. Jerusalem artichoke has prebiotics that help to increase the number of healthy bacteria in your intestines. One study found that dried Jerusalem artichoke helps to increase Bifidobacterium strains in the colon. (19)

Eat high-fiber foods after you stop taking antibiotics

It is important to eat foods that are rich in fiber while taking antibiotics as well as after taking antibiotics.

A systematic review of 64 studies on the effects of fiber on gut microbiota found that fiber is necessary for a healthy gut. Fiber helps to balance the gut’s microflora and increase the number of “good” bacteria. Dietary fiber helps probiotic strains like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to flourish. (23)

Other studies have found that a diet high in fiber and low in red meat helps to increase the number of good gut bacteria such as Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, Eubacteria, and Prevotella. (24)

Whole-grain breakfast cereal also contains prebiotics and can boost the health of your digestive system. One study found that consuming whole-grain wheat cereal resulted in an increase of bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli strains. Researchers found that whole-grain foods have a prebiotic effect on the human gut flora. (25)

Foods to Avoid When Taking Antibiotics

In order to protect the health of your gut while taking antibiotics, you should also be aware of certain foods to avoid.

Here are some of the foods to avoid when taking antibiotics.

Sugar. Consuming sugary drinks or foods could lead to yeast infections and other unpleasant side effects of antibiotics.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on eMedicineHealth reports that antibiotics can put women at risk of a vaginal yeast infection. (27) Sugar feeds yeast infections and can make them worse. (28)

Find out what other foods can help protect your vaginal health from yeast infections.

Calcium-enriched foods. Some calcium-fortified juices can interfere with the effectiveness of taking antibiotics. For example, one study found that orange juice with added calcium affected the absorption of ciprofloxacin and resulted in the antibiotic being less effective. (29)

Grapefruit. Although grapefruit is a healthy fruit, grapefruit and antibiotics are not a good combination. Grapefruit can interfere with how some antibiotics work. One small study found that consuming grapefruit juices with clarithromycin decreased its effectiveness. (30)

Dairy products. Plain, raw yogurt is a good source of probiotics to restore healthy gut flora. However, doctors advise that you should wait for 3 hours after taking an antibiotic before consuming yogurt and other dairy products. (34)

How to Treat Antibiotics Diarrhea

Taking probiotics and eating foods that contain probiotics is a good way to prevent and treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

According to studies, the best probiotic supplements to treat diarrhea after antibiotics should contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Saccharomyces boulardii. These probiotics reduce the risk of a C. diff. infection which may even require more antibiotics to treat if that develops. (31)

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that as well as taking probiotics, there are a number of other steps you can take to treat antibiotics diarrhea. Some home remedies to treat antibiotic-related diarrhea include the following: (32)

  • Keep well-hydrated. It is important to drink plenty of fluids if you have diarrhea after taking antibiotics. This is important to prevent the effects of dehydration. You may need to take fluids containing electrolytes if your diarrhea is severe.
  • Eat foods that are easy to digest. Soft foods like applesauce, bananas, and rice are easy on your digestion and some contain prebiotics. Although some high-fiber foods help increase the number of probiotics in your gut, you should avoid a lot of fiber if you have diarrhea.
  • Follow the instructions. Dr. Mary Harding on Patient.info says that some antibiotics should be taken with food, whereas others should be taken on an empty stomach. Taking antibiotics as instructed will also help prevent antibacterial resistance. (33)

Learn about other proven home remedies that can help you get rid of diarrhea naturally.

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