How Antibiotics Affect Your Immune System and What to Do About It

Are you or your children caught in the cycle of non-stop sinus infections or ear infections or other sicknesses?  You know… you just get over something and then it seems like you have it again.  If your pharmacy and doctor’s office staff know you and your children’s names and birth dates without looking them up, then this is for you. 

There is a reason for that cycle, and unfortunately, the same antibiotics that are getting you well are making you sick.  In my previous post, 5 Supplements To Help You Avoid Getting Sick During the Cold and Flu Season, I explained that your immunity is very closely linked to your digestion.  Antibiotics are a bit like an atomic bomb.  They do not just select the bad bacteria and destroy that, rather they destroy everything in their path, including the friendly bacteria that lives in your digestive tract and that your digestive and immune systems need to function optimally.  The friendly bacteria living in your digestive tract help to fight off the bad bacteria, aid in digestion and nutrient absorption and keep yeast (such as candidiasis) in its proper balance. 

Probiotics
There is a solution that can help over time; probiotics.  I talked about this in my previous post, but let me expand.  Your doctor has probably told you to wait to take your probiotics until after your course of antibiotics is done.  That is because the antibiotics kill off the bacteria-based probiotics as you are taking them.  This is not true about yeast-based probiotics such as saccharomyces boulardii, however.  They can be taken in conjunction with antibiotics.  I would recommend that you take those during a course of antibiotics and switch to the bacteria-based probiotics once the antibiotics are done.  Once finished with a course of antibiotics, I would take at least 50 billion units (you may want to start with less and increase the amount slowly over a week or two).  This means you will probably be taking a probiotic several times daily.  Be sure to read on your supplement label and see what you are getting.  

Prebiotics
These are foods that help the probiotics or friendly bacteria to flourish in your digestive tract.  They contain a kind of non-soluble fiber called oligosaccharides.  You may see that your probiotics have frucooligosaccharides or FOS added.  That is a prebiotic, and that is a good thing.  Many probiotic supplements include FOS or some other form of prebiotic, or you can buy them separately.  Food sources of prebiotics tend to be high fiber foods.  This is not a conclusive list, but some of the foods richest in prebiotics are flax, garlic, bananas, whole grains, such as oats, artichokes and dairy. 

Getting sick happens.  It is a normal part of life here on this earth.  However, when it becomes something that happens over and over again, you know that you need to do something different.  Whether or not you have been on antibiotics, probiotics are important.  If you have been on antibiotics, they are essential… and don’t forget to use the other top 5 supplements for a healthy immune system as well.