Recently I got a really bad stomach bug for a few days. I found myself losing a lot of blood, and on the toilet for 20-30 times a day. It wasn’t good.
At the time, I was able to quickly get things under control by drastically changing my diet and using certain natural anti-bacterials to help kill off whatever it was that I’d picked up.
I was able to do that because I had the knowledge to, but it would have been very easy for me to go to the doctors who would have very likely given me antibiotics.
Antibiotics are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the western world and that trend isn’t changing any time soon (their use is thought to have doubled from 2000 to 2010!).
In some cases, antibiotics are completely necessary but that is very often NOT the case.
In fact, they are commonly used for cases where the problem actually isn’t even bacterial in nature (things such as colds and flu that are primarily caused by viruses) and so won’t have any effect anyway (other than, perhaps, some placebo benefits).
What’s the problem?
Now you might be asking what the problem is with this? If they do sometimes work, is it not worth it?
The answer is no.
The harm done by antibiotics should never be underestimated, and whilst they have saved countless lives, they are also a major problem.
One reason for this is that their overuse is ultimately leading to the evolution of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. That can mean that essentially we will sometimes be exposed to certain bacteria that seriously harms our health and we will not (at the moment) be able to do anything about it. It’s a major concern of health professionals across the world right now and governments are spending a large amount of money on finding a solution to this problem.
There is also the fact the antibiotics can wipe out not just the problematic strains of bacteria, but also your beneficial bacteria (that is critical for your health). Your gut is home to hundreds of different species of bacteria that play a crucial role in your overall health. A large portion of your immune system is located in and around your gut, and your gut bacteria is critical to the proper functioning of this.
Use of antibiotics can affect the health of our good bacteria for years after its use and I certainly have seen IBD clients who’s health dramatically worsened after antibiotic use. Low levels of good bacteria in your gut will leave you susceptible to numerous problems, one of which is yeast overgrowth, commonly referred to as Candida.
With my 1:1 clients, I often carry out stool tests and urine tests and more and more recently I am finding people with yeast overgrowth, in some part caused by low levels of good bacteria.
It is my strong belief that one major cause of the massively high chronic disease rates across the western world (and the ever increasing rates of IBD) are the overuse of antibiotics, especially from a very early age.
This is why I’m hesitant to use antibiotics unless it’s really necessary (which it can sometimes be).
It is easy to blame the doctor for overprescribing antibiotics but quite often it’s because that is what the patient wants. Most people are happier walking away with a antibiotics prescription than simple advice to rest up, eat well, get some sleep and “in a few days it’ll pass” prescription.
If your doctor tries to give you them ask them if that is REALLY the only option.
Unfortunately, in some cases, they WILL be needed.
But don’t worry, that doesn’t leave you in a hopeless situation as there are things you can do during and after a course of antibiotics to minimise the damage and help to ensure your long term health.
In particular I would use probiotics, ensure sufficient intake of certain prebiotics, make sure you are taking in a good variety of fermented foods, and doing what you can to support the health of the gut and the liver.
I also believe it to be essential that you take a Saccharomyces Boulardi based supplement such as “Advanced Protection” before, during and after the antibiotics, and this can help to protect your good bacteria levels, and make a huge difference to the impact the antibiotics have on your health.
I appreciate that is a lot to think about and just knowing where to start is a challenge so if you do suffer with IBD and have had to use antibiotics in the past, then I’d suggest booking in for a chat with me and I’ll show you the steps to help return your gut to optimal health.