The Popular Supplement You Shouldn't Take With Antibiotics

Antibiotics are essential drugs that can help treat bacterial infections and keep diseases from spreading. They can also prevent serious complications from occurring. However, it's important to remember that antibiotics have a dual nature. They can sometimes get rid of helpful bacteria as well as harmful bacteria in your gut, which can lead to some unwanted side effects like diarrhea.

A report published in 2013 in The Journal of Family Practice cites several studies that have shown that probiotics are effective in preventing and treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). For example, a 2012 meta-analysis of 23 studies found that probiotics reduced the risk of AAD by 60%. The authors also note that probiotics are safe and well-tolerated by most people.

Probiotics are tiny living organisms that can be helpful for your gut health. They're great at restoring the balance of good bacteria in your digestive system, especially when you take antibiotics that can sometimes cause unwanted side effects. However, antibiotics can also accidentally kill off the good bacteria that probiotics provide. Because of this, it's best to avoid taking them simultaneously.

Timing matters when taking probiotics with antibiotics

Timing can make a huge difference in ensuring that your antibiotics don't interfere with the beneficial effects of the probiotics. Healthline reports that some healthcare professionals recommend waiting four to six hours after your antibiotic dose before incorporating probiotics.

The timing may also vary based on the specific types and strains of supplements used. For instance, according to the Probiotics Learning Lab, the best time to take probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, and Bifidobacterium lactis Lafti B94 is during breakfast. They can be safely taken at the same time as antibiotics only if ingested during your morning meal. 

If you need help determining what's best for you, it's always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance tailored to your specific regimen. They'll be able to give you advice for the best results.

Considerations for choosing the right probiotic supplement

When taking antibiotics, it's important to choose the right probiotic supplement to get the most out of the combo and avoid any unwanted side effects. Look for a probiotic that contains a wide range of bacterial strains. Some strains are super effective at preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. For instance, studies have shown that Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, and Bifidobacterium lactis Lafti B94 work well with antibiotics (via Probiotic Professionals). 

The effectiveness of probiotics is measured in Colony Forming Units (CFUs) that indicate the number of living cells in each dose. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends that you check for products labeled with the number of CFUs at the end of the product's shelf life, not at the time of manufacture. This is because probiotics must be consumed alive to have health benefits and can die during their shelf life.

Make sure you're getting a reliable and effective supplement by choosing a reputable and trustworthy brand that undergoes third-party testing for quality and potency. If you need help figuring out where to start, your healthcare provider or pharmacist can give you personalized recommendations based on your health condition, the type of antibiotic prescribed, and your overall health goals.

Alternatives to supplements during antibiotic treatment

If you're looking for ways to take care of your gut health while taking antibiotics, there are some great alternatives to probiotic supplements that you might want to consider. One easy and natural approach is to add more probiotic foods to your diet. Yummy options like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are packed with live cultures that can help replenish the good bacteria in your gut. Plus, they offer a variety of probiotic strains that can help make your microbiome stronger and more resilient. 

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Foods that are high in prebiotics include garlic, onions, bananas, asparagus, and oats. Synbiotics are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics that work together to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Foods that contain synbiotics include kefir, miso, and sourdough bread. 

Don't forget to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is crucial for good digestion and nutrient absorption (per Mayo Clinic), so make sure you're getting plenty of fluids throughout the day. A holistic approach can complement antibiotic treatment by fostering a thriving gut environment.