When you're fighting a bacterial infection, antibiotics not only attack the bad bacteria, but can also destroy some of your gut's good bacteria. While prescription medications work hard to make you feel better, they can also cause unpleasant side effects, like diarrhea or a yeast infection.
Probiotics have been shown to help alleviate those side effects and may possibly shorten the duration of your symptoms. In their natural form, probiotics are living microorganisms found in healthy bodies and certain foods. You can also get them from probiotic supplements 1,2. Not only are probiotics good for your gut, they are also beneficial for immune, urinary, and vaginal health3,4.
Here's how probiotics can help your body stay balanced, especially when you're taking an antibiotic.
Antibiotics Can Impact Your Digestive System
Not only do antibiotics kill off bad bacteria, they also reduce the bacteria that balance the body’s digestive system. For those who may suffer from an upset stomach or more serious gastrointestinal conditions, there’s evidence that some probiotics help you avoid antibiotic-associated diarrhea, infection-induced diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome 1. These friendly bacteria inhibit pathogens, or disease-causing germs1. But even if you are not on an antibiotic, you can benefit from probiotics to help balance your body's gut bacteria3,4.
Antibiotics Can Bring on Vaginal Infections
A healthy vagina contains various microorganisms, including lactobacillus (the most common kind of good bacteria). Found naturally in the vagina, lactobacilli play a role in stopping bad, disease-causing bacteria that can lead to infections, including bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and STDs 5. For certain vaginal infections, your doctor may prescribe medications, which can cause pH levels in the vagina to fluctuate6. By taking a daily probiotic, you can help maintain a healthy vaginal flora and pH.
Probiotic Supplements Can Help Replenish Healthy Bacteria Strains
When choosing a probiotic supplement, check for strains that you'd normally find in a healthy body. These naturally occurring cultures promote digestive and vaginal health, and could have broader benefits.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a probiotic strain that can help prevent and treat gastrointestinal infections and shorten the duration of acute diarrhea in adults and children3.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus may also help prevent and treat diarrhea7, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome like pain and bloating8,9, and vaginal infections5. It has also been shown to support the immune system3.
- Bifidobacterium lactis occurs naturally both in the body and in dairy. This strain helps relieve constipation and help stools pass more easily10,11,12.
- Bifidobacterium longum is a strain that has been used to treat patients with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory disease of the colon13.
Combine Probiotic Foods With A Daily Supplement
There are certain foods that’ll help you stay balanced, even while on an antibiotic. Probiotics can be found naturally in foods like fermented soft cheeses, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, kefir, and yogurt. While it’s smart to add these foods to your diet, we also recommend adding a probiotic supplement containing billions of cultures like the NATURELO One Daily Probiotic, as probiotic-rich foods are sometimes not enough.
1. National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health: Probiotics: In Depth
2. Probiotics for gastrointestinal diseases, Sep 04, 2018
3. Towards a better understanding of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG - host interactions, 2014; 13(Suppl 1): S7
4. Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice, 2003 Oct;16(4):658-72
5. The role of lactobacilli and probiotics in maintaining vaginal health, 2014 Mar;289(3):479-89. doi: 10.1007/s00404-013-3064-9. Epub 2013 Oct 30
6. Everything You Need to Know About Maintaining Your Vaginal pH Balance, July 2019
7. Efficacy of probiotics in prevention of acute diarrhoea: a meta-analysis of masked, randomised, placebo-controlled trials, 2006 Jun;6(6):374-82
8. Therapeutic effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus-SDC 2012, 2013 in patients with irritable bowel syndrome, 2008 Oct;53(10):2714-8. doi: 10.1007/s10620-007-0196-4. Epub 2008 Feb 15
9. Probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 versus placebo for the symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders: a double-blind study, 2011 Jul;45(6):518-25. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31820ca4d6
10. Medline ® Abstract for Reference 111 of 'Probiotics for gastrointestinal diseases'
11. The effect of probiotics on functional constipation in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, 06 August 2014
12. Probiotic supplementation decreases intestinal transit time: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, 2013 Aug 7;19(29):4718-25. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i29.4718
13. Synbiotic therapy (Bifidobacterium longum/Synergy 1) initiates resolution of inflammation in patients with active ulcerative colitis: a randomised controlled pilot trial, 2005 Feb; 54(2): 242–249