If you’ve been taking antibiotics recently then this week’s blog post is going to be right up your street. I’m taking a look at the 11 foods to eat if you’ve been taking antibiotics. These are the foods you should eat to replenish the healthy bacteria in your gut that’s been destroyed by the antibiotics you know you’re taking, and the antibiotics that are hidden in your food. I know! That last bit surprised me too.

Did you know that there’s increasing evidence that the antibiotics you consume in non-organic meat and dairy products may also be to blame for ‘a mysterious array of modern plagues’, including childhood diabetes, asthma, food allergies, autism, eczema and obesity? So says Dr Martin Blaser, a leading microbiologist in his new book. (You can check him out here.)

Feeding antibiotics to animals

If you think you don’t take antibiotics on a regular basis then it might surprise you to learn that cattle, pigs, chickens and sheep are all force-fed antibiotics to make them grow bigger.

This startling discovery was uncovered in 1946 by scientists who fed young battery chickens with high doses of antibiotics to see if they could reduce their death rate. They found that the birds did indeed survive the usual diseases common to battery chickens, but that they also grew twice as big as the untreated birds.

Destroying our friendly bacteria

Once scientists uncovered this previously unknown fact, antibiotics began to be used routinely to make animals grow bigger for us to eat. What wasn’t known then, but is now due to advances in our ability to analyse DNA, is that our friendly gut bacteria, known as gut microflora,of which we have more than 100 trillion, with over 400 different species and can weigh 2kg, are altered or destroyed by the antibiotics we take whether that’s the ones we know we take or the ones hidden in food.

Changing our complex internal environment can cause us no end of problems.

Danish scientists[1] found clear evidence “of an association between changes in an individual’s microbiome and the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes – this is because the shake-up in the microbe population altered the way the body processed sugars and fats.”

Researchers at the University of California’s School of Public Health published a paper in the journal, Frontiers in Public Health[2], that suggested that the increase in obesity had been driven partly ‘by population-wide chronic exposures to low-residue antibiotics’ that had been given to animals.

Keeping the friendly bacteria alive and kicking

As Dr John McDougall says:

The remnants of the foods we eat that are not digested by our small intestine become the foods for the microflora. Different bacteria live better on different sources of nutrients, similar to the way plants and animals do.

Eating a plant based, vegan diet encourages and promotes the growth and activity of “friendly” bacteria because we eat plant fibers. They are non-digestible carbohydrates and act as a fertiliser to promote the growth of many of the good bacteria in our gut and they stifle the production of the bad, disease-causing bacteria.

These foods are known as Prebiotics. The most common are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin (not insulin) and galacto-oligosaccharides.

Here are the top 11 foods to eat to pack a prebiotic punch and feed the good bacteria that you should try to eat on a regular basis:

  1. Raw chicory root – 7g to achieve 6g
  2. Raw Jerusalem Artichoke – 9.3 g
  3. Raw dandelion greens – 19 g
  4. Raw garlic – 34.3 g
  5. Raw leek – 51.3g
  6. Raw onion – 69.8g
  7. Cooked onion – 120g
  8. Raw asparagus – 120g
  9. Raw wheat bran – 120g
  10. Whole wheat flour, cooked – 125g
  11. Raw banana – 600g

‘What about probiotics?’

There are 100’s of strains of probiotics but there’s very little evidence to support claims that probiotic dietary supplements have any health benefits.[3]

So if you’re looking to re-balance your gut after taking a course of antibiotics, then try to focus on eating these 11 foods and you’ll find yourself getting back to normal a lot quicker than if you didn’t eat them.

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But, I also want to finish off with a question that I’d like you to answer…

What do you think? What’s your experience of taking antibiotics? Let me know what you think below.

References:

[1]http://science.time.com/2013/08/29/you-are-your-bacteria-how-the-gut-microbiome-influences-health/

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3867737/

[3] “European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – Committed since 2002 to ensuring that Europe’s food is safe”. Efsa.europa.eu. Retrieved 2012-11-08.

Crislip, Mark (16 January 2009). “Probiotics”. Science-based Medicine. Retrieved 8 October 2013.