What Is the Best Diet to Follow When Having Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medications used for treating bacterial infections by stopping an infection or preventing it from spreading. Some antibiotics (broad-spectrum) are used for treating a wide range of disease triggering bacteria, while others are designed to work on specific bacteria species. The important part is that antibiotics cannot treat viral infections (like the common cold) and fungal infections (like ringworm). While antibiotics are critical and effective in the treatment of serious infections, they do have some negative side effects, including:
Diarrhea or soft stools
Bloating and indigestion
Allergic reactions such as coughing, itchy skin rash, wheezing, and tightness in the throat
White patches on the tongue
Some foods can help reduce the side effects, but others will only make them worse. This article explains foods to take when having antibiotics.
Precautions about Foods When Having Antibiotics
Most instructions tell you to take your medication with a meal. However, what are the best foods to consume while on antibiotic medication? While you can take antibiotics with just about anything, you need to focus on foods that will help you heal faster and reduce nasty side effects.
1. Recommended foods
- Fermented foods
These help restore gut microbiota that has been damaged by antibiotics. Fermented foods include kombucha, cheese, kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut. There are many more. These foods also contain healthy bacterial species like lactobacilli, which help reinstate your gut microbiota to their natural, healthy state after taking antibiotics.
Since antibiotics alter the gut microbiota, leading to antibiotic-associated diarrhea (more on this later), taking live healthy bacteria or probiotics can help. Saccharomyces and Lactobacilli probiotics are particularly effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea. However, you should take antibiotics and probiotics a few hours apart because the latter is bacteria that can be killed by the former if taken together.
- Prebiotic foods
Unlike probiotics, prebiotic foods introduce good bacteria to your gut. Most high-fiber foods are prebiotics. Kefir, kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut are good sources of probiotics. Plus, your doctor may suggest a probiotic supplement.
- High-fiber foods
Your body can't digest fiber, but it can be digested by good gut bacteria to aid in their growth. Fiber is a great way of restoring gut bacteria health after you've gone through a course of antibiotics. Some high-fiber foods include whole grain brown rice, bread, and porridge. Seeds, lentils, broccoli, nuts, beans, and berries are also excellent high-fiber food sources. However, these foods are most effective after you've stopped taking antibiotics.
- A balanced diet
Make sure that your diet is balanced and packed with all the right nutrients. To achieve this, your meals should be loaded with protein, healthy fats and carbs. Stock up on nutrients and pay close attention to getting extras like vitamin B and K. Plus, add garlic and onions to your diet since they have antibacterial properties that would help increase medication effectiveness. The best thing about the natural antibiotics is that they focus on the bad bacteria while leaving out the good stuff.
Including all the suggestions above in your diet not only helps the antibiotics work better, but you will also feel mentally better. In addition, you will never get bored because of the food variety, and you'll know that you are supporting your weight management efforts even when you are unwell.
2. Foods to avoid
The general focus has been on the food you should eat while taking antibiotics, but a few of them are likely to interact with the antibiotics' action in a negative way. Such foods end up preventing your body from absorbing all the antibiotic benefits it requires. Instead of aiding, the nutrients leave your system without doing the necessary work. Some foods to avoid when having antibiotics include:
Acidic foods like citrus fruits, soda, orange juice, and tomatoes
Foods supplemented with calcium and iron
How to Deal with Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea
Diarrhea or soft stools are the most common side effect of taking antibiotics. When having antibiotics to fight off an infection, they also kill the good gut bacteria, resulting in diarrhea. Diarrhea as a side effect of antibiotics is usually mild. Eventually, diarrhea stops on its own or once you are done with your dose. Some people find that they can take some antibiotics without getting a diarrhea problem.
However, if you have diarrhea from antibiotics, especially if the problem persists or becomes worse, consult your doctor to switch the medication. You can still take steps to prevent or minimize antibacterial-associated diarrhea.
1. Diarrhea from antibiotics, what to eat (food suggestions)
Drink more water and other fluids to counter the loss of fluids from diarrhea. However, avoid beverages containing alcohol and caffeine
Eat soft, easy-to-digest foods like bananas, rice, and applesauce. Opposed to that, avoid high-fiber foods such as vegetables, nuts, and beans. When the symptoms resolve, you can resume your normal diet
Take probiotics in liquid or capsule form to restore your intestines' healthy balance
2. Other things you can do
Check the antibiotics' labeling. Does it suggest you take them with food or on an empty stomach?
As mentioned earlier, people react differently to different types of antibiotics, so make sure you consult with your doctor before taking any antibiotic.
Taking antibiotics is never a Sunday picnic. Not only is the body fighting off an infection, but your medication could also take a toll on your overall health. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria in your body, but they cannot tell the difference between the bad bacteria and the helpful, natural ones in your gut.
The tips above give you information on foods to take when having antibiotics to aid in healing and what to eat after antibiotics to replace the essential bacteria. To find out more, here's a 5-minute video on how to restore gut health after antibiotics: