You've heard me talk about this before: taking probiotics when taking antibiotics is an absolute must, and this recent study (more on that below) reinforces this point.
The first line of defense of your immune system is your Microbiome: these are the "good bacteria" living in our digestive system and on our skin.
Remember that we are more bacteria than human: the number of bacteria cells living in each of us is much much higher than the number of human cells.
And that's a good thing: these bacteria work "with us". It's a symbiotic relationship:
- they help us get better nutrition out of the food we eat (for example, they help us get butyrate from fibre).
- they help us defend ourselves against pathogens: for example, they fight off the bad bacteria and other organisms looking to infect us.
So what are probiotics?
Probiotics are concentrated doses (in supplement form) of these "good bacteria".
Often times though, our Microbiome gets populated by "bad bacteria" and they outnumber the "good bacteria", taking over.
This can happen for a number of reasons, including:
- Excessive use of antibiotics (which kill the good bacteria, leaving room for the bad ones to take over).
- Exposure to herbicides & pesticides from fruits & vegetables (these chemicals are actually antibiotics at the chemical level).
- Exposure to environmental toxins.
This is why you should always take probiotics when taking antibiotics: antibiotics "kill everything", the good and the bad bacteria, and when that happens, you're left exposed to the bad bacteria coming back in and taking over.
This metastudy (study of studies) revealed that patients going through surgery who took probiotics with antibiotics had a much lower risk of infection and could stop taking the antibiotics much earlier than those who took antibiotics without probiotics.
Where can you find "natural" probiotics?
You can find natural probiotics in "fermented" foods, such as unpasteurised Sauerkraut, yoghurt, kimchi, etc.
How you should supplement
Remember 3 important things:
1. Probiotics are "alive". This means that if your pharmacy / health food store is not storing them in the fridge, you're wasting your money. Buy high quality ones which have been refrigerated throughout.
2. Your Microbiome needs diversity: aim to get the most diverse form of supplement (or cycle different kinds every week or so).
3. Probiotics need "food" to survive: these are called "prebiotics". Here is a link to some common prebiotics.