Every year, doctors give out millions of antibiotics. Antibiotics can be very good at treating infections, but they don’t usually just kill the bacteria that is causing the infection.
Also, they kill the good bacteria in our guts that keep us healthy. There is evidence that this change in the gut microbiome can last for up to 2 years after taking antibiotics.
Common side effects of antibiotics include stomach problems like diarrhea and bloating.
Co-author of the study and assistant professor at Texas Christian University, Dr. Elisa Marroquin, provided the following explanation:
“Like in a human community,” according to co-author Dr. Elisa Marroquin, “we need people that have different professions because we don’t all know how to do every single job. And so the same happens with bacteria. We need lots of different gut bacteria that know how to do different things.
“Even though we haven’t come up with a single definition of what is a healthy gut microbiome,” as explained by the author, “one of the constant things we observe in healthy people is that they have a higher level of diversity and more variety of bacteria in the gut.”
Studies have shown that taking probiotics can mitigate the side effects of antibiotics on the digestive system. However, there has been some debate about whether taking probiotics along with antibiotics can also keep the diversity and composition of microbes in the gut.
Some doctors don’t want to recommend probiotics along with antibiotics because they are afraid of upsetting the delicate balance of microbes in the gut of the patient.
In the first comprehensive assessment of its kind, a new study published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology analyzes how co-administration of probiotics and antibiotics affects the microbiota in the human gut.
The review, which was written by academics from the School of Medical and Health Sciences at Tecnológico de Monterrey, the University of Texas, and Texas Christian University, analyzes trends across a total of 29 papers that have been published over the course of the previous seven years.
The authors discovered that supplementing with probiotics while taking antibiotics can mitigate the negative effects those drugs have on the gut microbiota.
Some beneficial bacteria, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (which helps keep inflammation at bay and the gut barrier strong), may have their populations diminished by antibiotic use, but taking a probiotic can help bring them back to normal.
Dr. Elisa Marroquin added: “When participants take antibiotics, we see several consistent changes in some bacterial species. But when treatment was combined with probiotics, the majority of those changes were less pronounced and some changes were completely prevented.
“Considering the human data available up to this point, there does not seem to be a reason to withhold a prescription of probiotics when antibiotics are prescribed.”
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