Antibiotics not only kill harmful germs, but also beneficial intestinal bacteria. The consequences can be digestive problems and an increased susceptibility to infections, because the bacteria in the intestine strengthen the immune system. How useful is intestinal cleansing after antibiotic treatment?
At a glance:
Intestinal bacteria: What does antibiotic therapy do?
The gut, especially the colon, is home to billions of beneficial microorganisms. In their entirety, they are also referred to as the microbiome or intestinal flora and together weigh around one and a half to two kilograms. Intestinal germs, such as lactic acid or bifidobacteria, support digestion, provide vitamins and even strengthen the human immune system. In addition, a densely populated intestine protects against pathogenic pathogens, which make it difficult for them to multiply.
If the microbiome of the intestine gets out of balance in the long term, there is a risk of serious consequences for the body, such as:
Antibiotics work against bacteria
Antibiotics are the drug of choice for bacterial infections, such as a bladder infection. They fight bacterial pathogens. There is often little time to determine the exact germ in the laboratory, and an antibiotic that is effective against many bacteria is prescribed (broad-spectrum antibiotic).
This usually works quickly and relieves the symptoms of the disease, but the beneficial bacteria in the intestine can also suffer from the treatment and take damage. This can manifest itself, for example, in the form of acute symptoms such as:
Can the intestinal flora regenerate?
It takes several months to six months for the intestinal flora to fully recover. The biodiversity of the intestinal flora cannot always be fully restored, and in some cases particularly sensitive intestinal residents find it difficult to resettle. However, the intestine does not become completely sterile after antibiotic treatment.
Harmful and antibiotic-resistant germs initially have an easy time with the new colonization after decimation by antibiotics, which is why diarrheal diseases often occur after treatment. The actually harmless bacterium can be particularly dangerous Clostridium difficile will. If this can multiply unhindered, it displaces other strains of bacteria and produces toxins. The toxins can cause severe diarrhea and even fatal complications.
In most cases, however, the intestinal microbiome recovers on its own: healthy lactic acid bacteria gradually multiply in the intestine, restoring the balance.
Intestinal cleansing: How useful is it to take dietary supplements?
“Intestinal rehabilitation” is not a protected term, it can be understood to mean various measures to build up and cleanse the intestines. In pharmacies, drugstores and online shops there are a variety of products to buy that are supposed to help build up the intestines. These are usually probiotic preparations that contain certain intestinal germs so that they can settle and multiply in the intestine. As a rule, such intestinal cures sold as dietary supplements do not require a prescription, they can be bought and taken without a doctor’s order.
Experts are skeptical about the benefits of intestinal cures. Various medical studies show that although the products are dietary supplements and not drugs, side effects could occur. In addition, scientific results indicate that intestinal cleansing with appropriate tablets or powders can even delay the regeneration of the intestinal flora.
The balance of the different species can also become imbalanced: a study showed that the administration of probiotics caused certain Lactobacillus strains to multiply uninhibitedly in the small intestine and produce enormous amounts of lactic acid there. As a result, complaints such as:
If someone wants to take probiotic food supplements after antibiotic treatment, they should always be examined by a doctor, including a stool sample. This can provide information as to whether treatment with probiotics makes sense and which intestinal bacteria should be actively supplied. A prior laboratory test could possibly avert harmful side effects of intestinal cleansing, such as problems with the stomach.
Intestinal cleansing: Which foods help to break down the intestinal flora?
While probiotic dietary supplements are often not a solution and even block regeneration, the right diet can help to clean up the intestines after antibiotic therapy. Probiotic foods are particularly important, i.e. foods that contain various microorganisms, including:
In addition, prebiotic products also help to rebuild the bacterial diversity in the intestine. Prebiotics are indigestible food components (roughage) that serve as food for intestinal bacteria. Prebiotic foods include:
Probiotic foods should already be consumed in large quantities while taking antibiotics, but also afterwards. Prebiotics help especially after drug treatment has ended. All in all, experts recommend eating a healthy intestinal diet for around four weeks after antibiotic treatment and preferably consuming appropriate foods. Sugar and sweeteners should be avoided during this time, as they can have a negative effect on the intestinal flora.
Omega-3 fatty acids increase biodiversity in the gut
In addition to prebiotics and probiotics, other foods can also contribute to promoting biodiversity and the microbiome in the intestine. For example, studies show that the regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids through food can have a beneficial effect on the composition of the intestinal flora.
The healthy fatty acids are found in high-fat sea fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. People who eat no fish or meat can cover their needs with linseed oil, avocado, soy, almonds and walnuts.
Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.
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