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Should You Take Probiotics if You Must Take Antibiotics?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Story at-a-glance -

  • Recent research casts doubt on the standard recommendation to reseed your gut with probiotics after taking a course of antibiotics, finding Lactobacillus bacteria actually inhibits the recovery of your gut microbiome
  • Spore-based probiotics do not contain any live Bacillus strains, only its spores, which means antibiotics cannot kill them. Sporebiotics may therefore be able to reestablish your gut microbiome more effectively than regular probiotics when taken in conjunction with antibiotics
  • There’s only a 20 percent correlation between the microbiome of the gut and that of stool. Hence, stool samples cannot accurately assess the composition of your gut microbiome
  • When you take an oral probiotic, the effect is transient, but still provides benefits by up- and downregulating hundreds of genes, many of which are related to immune system function
  • Your gut microbiome tends to be rather resistant to change; commensal bacteria inhibit colonization of added probiotics. Some people have a “permissive microbiome,” meaning they’re more likely to accept colonization of new bacteria, whereas others have more resistant microbiomes

Your intestinal bacteria are part of your immune system, and researchers are discovering that microbes of all kinds play instrumental roles in countless areas of your health. For example, beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, have been shown to:

Beneficial bacteria also control the growth of disease-causing bacteria by competing for nutrition and attachment sites in your colon. This is of immense importance, as pathogenic bacteria and other less beneficial microbes can wreak havoc with your health if they gain the upper hand.

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