ANTIBIOTICS, CHANGES IN THE MICROBIOTA AND INCREASED RISK OF INFECTION | CAN WE PREVENT IT?
The bacteria that reside in our gut, also known as the microbiota, play a very important role in keeping us healthy! One of the many fabulous things they do for us, is to help with the differentiation and development of our immune system.
The composition of the microbiota depends on a number of factors including:
- Mode of delivery (Caesarean section versus natural birth)
- Whether or not you have been breast fed
- Your diet
- Feeling stressed
- Exposure to antibiotics
In western societies, the leading cause of disturbance to microbiota is probably widespread antibiotic use.
So what happens when we take antibiotics?
Antibiotics do clear the infection they are made to target, but … they also disturb the gut microbiota!
A well-conducted study, investigated the composition of the microbiota after a 5-day course of an antibiotic named ciprofloxacin, by assessing faecal microbiota. They found that, while on the antibiotic, the richness and the diversity of the microbiota was reduced.
Interestingly, they also found that even 4 weeks after the initiation of the treatment, some strains of the microbiota had not fully recovered. This finding suggests that the negative effects of antibiotics on the microbiota can potentially be long-lasting.
What is the consequence for our immune response?
By changing the composition of the microbiota, antibiotics impair our immune system’s ability to fight off those microbes that are resistant to the antibiotic.
In fact, evidence suggest that changes to our microbiota due to anti-biotic use (or other causes) can make us more susceptible to:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
However, we are not suggesting that you should avoid antibiotics at all costs. With certain infection, it may be necessary to go on a course of antibiotics.
When antibiotic use is necessary, we do suggest you take probiotics to counteract the negative effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiota. As evidenced in both human and animal studies, probiotics can boost our immunity, and help prevent and treat certain infectious diseases.
How can our services help you?
Our experienced nutrition team will guide you through consuming a healthy, and balanced diet that can support your immune system functioning, and improve the health of your gut microbiota. They can also give you tips about probiotic use.
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