Q. Dear Terry, “My mother-in-law recently had to take antibiotics for two weeks. Now she’s having diarrhea and some bloating, which the doctor said is probably just a side effect of the antibiotics. I heard that probiotics can be helpful for people who have taken antibiotics recently. What kind of probiotic should I get her?” – Mackenzie G., Chicago, IL
A. Dear Mackenzie, Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that help to keep our digestive system running smoothly. Our body is full of many types of bacteria and adding probiotics helps to ensure more of the healthy bacteria survive and thrive. Probiotics are best known for helping with digestive disturbances, including after antibiotic treatment, but they are also crucial for our overall health.
While there are many different types of probiotics out there, I believe the best kinds are human strain. Human strain probiotics means that they are naturally occurring within our bodies and many of these strains have been clinically studied.
One of the most extensively tested probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum, has a wide range of benefits. Some people will develop IBS or similar symptoms after taking antibiotics due to the disruption of the gut microbiome. In a clinical study, L. plantarum was found to reduce irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in 95 percent of those taking it versus only 15 percent of patients in the placebo group. This normalization of the digestive system happened in only four weeks.
Another probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is well known for its ability to stop the conditions that lead to inflammatory changes in the gastrointestinal tract (GI). L. rhamnosus can also strengthen the barrier in the intestines to prevent leaky gut. Breakdowns in the gut barrier are common after taking antibiotics.
A clinical trial conducted in Bavaria found that Bifidobacterium bifidum significantly reduced IBS symptoms – including pain and discomfort, frequency of bowel movements, urgency, bloating, and improved overall quality of life.
We all need beneficial bacteria. Without them, we wouldn’t exist. I think it’s important to get probiotics that have a history of human use and work especially well in the human body. Having a “big number” of probiotics is less important than making sure you get the right probiotics. I would take 20 billion colony forming units (CFUs) that is a combination of L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. bifidum twice per day, or with each meal.
Terry . . . Naturally
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