Dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be challenging, and antibiotics, while often necessary, can sometimes throw our gut health out of balance and increase gut symptoms. We know this can be frustrating and there’s lots of misinformation about what to do to support your gut health. To clear up the confusion this article will give you 7 ways to improve your gut health after antibiotics.
How Antibiotics Impact the Gut Microbiome
Our gut is a bustling ecosystem, housing trillions of bacteria that play a crucial role in digestion, immunity, and overall well-being. Antibiotics, though helpful in fighting harmful bacteria-causing infections, can also unintentionally wipe out some of the beneficial bacteria in our gut. This disruption can lead to an increase in digestive distress and exacerbate symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or irregular bowel movements for those with IBS.
7 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health After Antibiotics
The good news is there are some easy ways you can improve your gut health after a round of antibiotics. Here are our favourite tips:
1. Focus on a Fibre-Rich Diet: Consume a diet high in fibre to support digestive health. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are excellent sources of fibre, aiding in regular bowel movements and promoting a healthy gut environment. There are plenty of low FODMAP fibre-rich options for you to explore.
2. Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential post-antibiotics. Hydration supports the digestive system, improves digestion and helps in nutrient absorption.
3. Use Mindful Eating Habits: Practice mindful eating to reduce IBS symptoms. Chew your food thoroughly, eat at a relaxed pace, and avoid large meals, as these can contribute to discomfort and bloating.
4. Eat the rainbow: This isn’t just about having a pretty plate of food – it’s a powerful strategy for nurturing your gut health. Colours in fruits and vegetables signify different types of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that help support a healthy and diverse microbiome. Check out our favourite low FODMAP vegetable combinations for ideas.
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5. Introduce high FODMAP foods you tolerate: When you’re feeling unwell it’s common to revert back to bland food or low FODMAP food options while your symptoms are at their worst. That’s okay, as long as you don’t delay bringing back any high FODMAP foods you tolerate once you’re feeling better. High FODMAP foods provide fuel to our gut microbiome and can help promote gut health. If you need help reintroducing high FODMAP foods then check out our FODMAP Made Easy Program.
6. Eat Food-Based Probiotics and Prebiotics: Introduce food-based probiotics (foods that contain healthy bacteria) to replenish the good bacteria in your gut. Lactose free or coconut yoghurt, lactose free kefir, miso paste and red cabbage sauerkraut are rich sources of low FODMAP probiotics. Additionally, try incorporating prebiotic-rich low FODMAP foods like just-ripe or unripe bananas, rhubarb, kiwifruit, or small servings of canned lentils or chickpeas to fuel the growth of beneficial bacteria.
7. Consult a Professional: If you need more support, then consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalised guidance. They can suggest specific supplements or dietary modifications tailored to your needs.
Antibiotics are an important medication for treating infections, but their impact on our gut health, particularly for those with IBS, can be challenging. However, by being mindful about your dietary choices, incorporating foods with naturally occurring probiotics and prebiotics, and staying hydrated, you can take proactive steps to restore balance to your gut microbiome and improve your gut health after antibiotics.