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The chicken and eggs you consume could be making you resistant to antibiotics, says a new study done in India by US-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP).
- Abdominal pain
Although these side effects are usually mild, transient, and harmless, they can become severe and signal the need for a change in medication.
Sometimes, patients find they can control these side effects, or even eliminate them completely, with just a few basic diet changes.
In other cases, it’s the food causing the problem and removing it from their diet is enough.
In this post, we’ll tell you about six of the best foods to eat while taking antibiotics – and the four you should always avoid, too.
Why Do Antibiotics Cause GI Side Effects?
During times of good health, your body maintains a balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines.
The natural ratio of good bacteria to bad is set at just the right rate for both to coexist without causing you any harm.
When you take antibiotics, the very drugs you take to fight off an infection also target the good bacteria in your G.I. tract, too.
Your intestines lose the delicate balance maintained between both sides, leading to gastrointestinal upset and other unpleasant symptoms.
The Best Foods to Eat While Taking Antibiotics
Good news: certain foods support good bacteria levels in your body.
These are the best foods to eat while taking antibiotics. By eating them, you reduce or eliminate the side effects common to antibiotic treatment.
Most of these contain either probiotics or prebiotics.
A few of the most common foods to eat while taking antibiotics include:
- Prebiotics — Prebiotics are the building blocks for healthy gut bacteria. When you ingest them, they help to make your gut a friendly place for more healthy bacteria to grow. Find them in kefir, yogurt, and even fortified cereals.
- Probiotics: — Like prebiotics, probiotics feed good bacteria, helping them to grow and flourish. Good sources include supplements, kefir, yogurt, and milk.
- Yogurt and Fermented Milk — Both yogurt and fermented milk (kefir) increase the presence of Lactobacilli (a critical element of digestion) in the intestines. They also significantly curb overflow of bad bacteria at the same time.
- Kimchi and Fermented Soy Products — Kimchi and fermented soy products are loaded with probiotics and prebiotics. They’re also rich in another digestion-critical bacteria called Bifidobacteria.
- Foods High in Vitamin K — Antibiotic treatment can rarely lead to Vitamin K deficiency which may contribute to bacteria imbalances. Get more K by ingesting leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, liver, and eggs.
- Coconut Oil — This medium-chain triglyceride contains fatty acids, which may help to reduce your risk of developing an antibiotic-related yeast infection. If you’re female, this will be especially helpful to you!
What Foods to NOT Eat While Taking Antibiotics
There are some foods you should avoid while on antibiotics, either because they interfere with absorption or because the combination can make you feel sick.
In most cases, these foods simply interact poorly and make the antibiotics less effective.
Foods to avoid include:
- Grapefruit — You should avoid both the fruit and the juice of this sour citrus product. It contains compounds that can keep the body from properly absorbing your antibiotics – as well as other medications, too!
- Excess Calcium — Some studies show that excess calcium interferes with absorption. For best results, stick to fermented dairy products until you are finished with your antibiotics.
- Alcohol — Mixing alcohol and antibiotics can lead to a host of unpleasant side effects. The most common of these are
- Increased nausea
- Abdominal pain
- Heart rate issues. You should avoid alcohol throughout the duration of treatment and for 48 to 72 hours after treatment ends.
- Sugars and Yeast — For some patients (especially women) antibiotic usage may lead to candida (yeast) infections. Avoid foods high in sugar and yeast to avoid feeding the candida organism. This is especially important if you find you nearly always end up with a yeast infection after a course of antibiotics.
Taking Antibiotics Properly
Along with knowing the best foods to eat while taking antibiotics, they must also be taken as directed.
Improper use can render them ineffective or even cause antibiotic resistance over time. Heed these tips to stay on the right track.
1. Antibiotics begin their work as soon as they enter your bloodstream. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel well right away. It may take a day or two before you really begin to feel better. In the meantime, discuss what you can do to control your symptoms with your doctor. Don’t end treatment early unless directed by your physician, even if you think it isn’t working.
2. Always finish your antibiotic treatment as prescribed. A lot of people stop taking their antibiotics when they feel better in order to avoid further side effects. This may lead to the infection not properly clearing, resulting in recurrence and the need for another round of medication.
3. Never double up on antibiotic doses, especially if you miss a dose, unless specifically directed. Taking more won’t make you feel better faster. In the case of a missed dose, simply resume at your next scheduled time and continue taking your medication until you run out.
4. Women should be especially cautious when taking antibiotics. Yeast infection development is the biggest concern, but can be prevented if you stay on top of taking probiotics or eating yogurt.
5. Antibiotics also reduce the effectiveness of birth control. Women taking these drugs should abstain or use a backup method until they finish treatment.
Foods to avoid on antibiotics
Food can interact negatively with antibiotics in several ways. Certain foods can reduce, slow down, or even block your absorption of the medication, making it harder for you to get well. Other foods can react with antibiotics to produce unpleasant side effects. The foods to avoid on antibiotics include:
- Acidic foods: We have all heard that you should drink orange juice when you have a cold, right? Not when you are taking antibiotics. While the Vitamin C in orange juice can boost your immune system, highly acidic foods such as orange juice can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb antibiotics. Whenever you are on antibiotics, you should avoid citrus fruits and juice, especially grapefruit. You should also stay away from sodas and other carbonated beverages (including diet soda), chocolate, and tomato-based products such as marinara sauce and ketchup.
- High fiber foods: High-fiber foods including sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, and whole grains can slow the rate at which the contents of your stomach are processed and absorbed into your bloodstream. This makes these foods helpful for individuals with diabetes, because they prevent spikes in blood sugar levels, but it can be problematic when you are on antibiotics. High fiber foods are not recommended while you are taking antibiotics because they also slow down the rate at which the medicine is absorbed into your blood stream.
- Foods rich in calcium and iron: Calcium and iron can affect your body’s ability to absorb certain antibiotics, so you should avoid foods rich in these nutrients when taking antibiotics. Prime examples of iron and calcium rich foods include dairy products (except yogurt), nuts, and seafood. If you take calcium or iron supplements for your health, be sure to wait at least three hours before taking antibiotics.
- Foods that cause a reaction: Antibiotics can make you more sensitive to foods that already cause a mild allergic For example, if you are normally slightly sensitive to eggs, then you should avoid combining eggs and antibiotics. Some other foods that are known to cause inflammation, stomach upset, or other reactions that may be exacerbated by antibiotics include chocolate, sugar, and spicy foods.
What to eat with antibiotics
Antibiotics are designed to kill harmful bacteria, but unfortunately, they also destroy the helpful bacteria in your gut that aids digestion. This can cause abdominal upset, cramping, and diarrhea. Knowing what to eat with antibiotics is important, because there are some foods that can alleviate these uncomfortable side effects when eaten with or after a course of antibiotics.
- Probiotics: Probiotics introduce healthy bacteria back into your digestive system. Because they replace the bacteria that normally live in your gut rather than simply masking symptoms, probiotics are the most effective remedy for antibiotic-induced diarrhea. You can take supplements or eat foods that contain active and live probiotic cultures. Examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, along with other fermented beverages and foods.
- High fiber foods: As we mentioned above, high fiber foods should be avoided while you are taking antibiotics because they slow absorption of the medication. However, once you have finished your course of antibiotics, high fiber foods can be beneficial. Whole grains, beans, legumes, and other fiber-rich foods can stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics do not contain live microbes like probiotics, but they still feed the formation of good bacteria in your gut. Red wine, cocoa, and other prebiotics are good to take after finishing a course of antibiotics.