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Antibiotics take a damaging toll on your microbiome that can last a long time. A 2016 randomized placebo-controlled trial with published in the journal mBio found that giving healthy adults antibiotics for just one week changed their microbiomes for up to one year! Although we still don’t know that much about different people’s microbial ecosystems, and it’s therefore hard to say whether specific changes are good or bad in general, in my opinion, these changes were clearly bad.
For example, butyrate-producing species decreased as a result of the antibiotic treatment.
But we don’t need to do an in-depth microbiome analysis to know that antibiotic use is bad for the microbiome and health. A cool 2018 review and study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, lists a dozen separate studies in which antibiotic use in children has been associated with obesity later in life. What’s more, this paper in includes a side-by-side comparison of obesity rates and antibiotic prescriptions. Notice anything? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6287021/
Now, how to recover from antibiotics?
There isn’t a ton of research on the topic, but logic would have it that you should prioritize probiotic foods, including fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. You could also take a supplemental probiotic. I recommend Bacillus-based probiotics like MegaSpore or Thrive because the Bacillus form spores that can actually make it through your acidic stomach to the colon, whereas many other probiotics just get killed in your stomach acid. In addition to probiotics, which contain healthy bacteria, you’ll want prebiotic foods to feed those healthy bacteria. Great prebiotic foods include artichoke, asparagus, avocado, fennel, and garlic. Really, any vegetable with fiber is a good prebiotic.
But perhaps you could have guessed that. Do I have anything original to share? Well, an excellent research paper published in 2016 in Nature on Yo-Yo dieting (which causes similar negative microbiome shifts to antibiotics, which is why Yo-Yo diets lead to long-term weight gain) found that flavonoid antioxidants, and specifically the flavonoids “apigenin” and “naringenin,” could speed microbiome and metabolic recovery! So, where do you get apigenin and naringenin? Chamomile tea, onions, parsley, cilantro, celery, pistachios, and almonds.
Nicholas Norwitz – Oxford PhD Researcher and Harvard Med Student: