Why Eating Fermented Foods Is Extra Important When You're On Antibiotics

Some medical treatments can be just as harmful as they are helpful. Antibiotics are one common example. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotics have played a significant role in saving countless lives by fighting dangerous bacteria, yet they come with some drawbacks. They can cause side effects including rashes, digestive issues, allergic reactions, and the development of new and sometimes fatal infections. In addition, taking antibiotics too often can lead to antibiotic resistance, which is when the bacteria can no longer be controlled by treatment.

Antibiotics can also wreak havoc on gut health by wiping out beneficial bacteria (per WebMD). One 2015 study published in mBio showed that a one-week course of antibiotics continued to impact the bacteria in the gut even months after consumption.

However, what you eat can offset some of these effects on your health and gut (per Samaritan Health Services). Therefore, if you're taking antibiotics, here's why fermented foods should be at the top of your list of foods to eat.

Fermented foods bring balance to your gut

Turns out, fermented foods are among the best foods for gut health, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Fermentation is produced by good bacteria that, when ingested, protect the gut from harmful bacteria. These gut heroes also play an important role in digestion, vitamin production, and protection against disease. Since antibiotics can destroy both good and bad bacteria, eating plenty of fermented foods while taking these medications can restore gut health.

Luckily, there's a wide variety of fermented foods to try, including pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Yogurt is also a convenient option. However, Samaritan Health Services suggests consuming dairy products a couple of hours after taking antibiotics and at least six hours before your next dose, as dairy can make some antibiotic medications less effective.

The experts at Medical News Today also warn against heating fermented foods. Baking, cooking, and filtering fermented foods can remove or destroy the healthy bacteria contained inside. To be safe, look for products that list live and active cultures on their labels, and consume these products fresh or with minimal heating.