Reviewed by Lisa Blohm, PhD, MSN, RN
Probiotics are a great way to maintain an already healthy gut. But if you’ve recently been prescribed a round of antibiotics, they’re even more beneficial — we’d even say necessary! Taking probiotics after antibiotics replenishes essential bacteria that were killed by the pharmaceuticals. And while your GI tract may rebalance itself naturally, it can be a lengthy process filled with some uncomfortable digestive symptoms in the meantime!
So, if you’re wondering what you can do to support your gut during and after antibiotics, the answer is simple. Add probiotics to your daily diet!
Why Take Probiotics — What Are They For?
Probiotic supplements deliver a dose of healthy bacteria straight to your gut. Depending on the type of supplement you choose, they contain different strains, quantities, and potency of bacteria. They’re filled with bacteria that already live (or used to live) in your digestive tract. Adding additional ‘good guy’ bacteria to your gut helps rebalance the system and helps more beneficial bacteria grow in the future.
About Your Biome
It’s also helpful to understand probiotics and their role in gut health. If you don’t know exactly what’s living in your gut, buckle up! We’re going to break it down for you. It may not be the most glamorous part of your body, but your digestive tract is full of some impressive living things!
- Your gut is filled with billions (if not trillions) of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and yeasts that live harmoniously!
- Together, all these little living beings are referred to as your ‘microbiome.’ Or your ‘flora.’ Sometimes, they’re called your ‘microflora.’
- These living organisms — especially bacteria — are essential for healthy digestion.
- They play a role in countless other body functions, as well. Most importantly, your immune health.
- But, the balance of your microbiome is sensitive! A happy, healthy balance is essential for you to experience vibrant health and good digestion.
Why Bacterial Balance Matters
The gut helps your body carry out essential functions. And that’s putting it lightly! It’s key when it comes to nutrient absorption and energy production — after all, most of our nutrients come directly from our diet!
Your gut can even affect your mood and brain health. Add to that, the fact that 70% of your immune system lives in the GI tract, and you know it’s an important part of immune health, as well.
To put it simply, your gut is the gateway to almost every part of your body, so keeping it healthy is a HUGE priority. And one of the best ways to support a healthy gut is by promoting bacteria balance.
Why Take Probiotics After Antibiotics?
If you’ve just taken antibiotics to beat illness or bounce back from an infection, you’re likely feeling better after just a few doses. And that’s great! Antibiotics are incredibly important when it comes to fighting infection because they are incredibly effective at their job.
If you’re wondering, ‘do antibiotics kill good bacteria, too?’ The answer’s yes! Antibiotics can’t differentiate between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria. They eliminate the bad stuff that can make you sick and cause infection and the good stuff that keeps your digestive tract healthy and your immune system strong.
So, at the end of a round of antibiotics, your bacteria in your gut is thrown entirely out of balance. And this is exactly where taking a probiotic supplement after antibiotics can help! Here’s how:
- Probiotics after antibiotics introduce millions of new, healthy bacteria to your gut.
- This bacteria then grows even more bacteria to support your digestive system.
- And they all fight off bad bacteria, infection, and future illness!
How to Take Probiotics with Antibiotics
Focusing only on your immediate health concerns without considering the effect that antibiotics can have on your body leaves you susceptible to some uncomfortable digestive issues down the road. Do your best to avoid the negative side effects by adding probiotics to your diet, as well.
Can You Take Probiotics And Antibiotics At The Same Time?
Yes, you should! Probiotics contain bacteria that’s already lived (or currently living!) in your gut and taking them while taking antibiotics helps to keep your microbiome healthy and your immune system strong.
In fact, not only are they safe to take together, but taking probiotics and antibiotics over the same time period has been shown to decrease the likelihood that you’ll suffer from antibiotic-induced diarrhea. We don’t know about you, but that’s definitely something we’d like to avoid!
When To Take Probiotics After Antibiotics
If you’re wondering when to take probiotics with antibiotics, a good rule of thumb is to wait at least two hours after your dose of antibiotics. This gives the antibiotics time to get through your digestive system and into your bloodstream. If you take them together, the antibiotics will wipe out the bacteria in your probiotic supplement.
It’s a great idea to take your probiotics right before bedtime. That way your probiotic will be busily working all night long while you sleep. As far as taking probiotics after a round of antibiotics, we’d recommend at least a couple of weeks of high doses of probiotics to help repopulate the damaged gut flora!
Do Probiotics Affect Antibiotics?
Probiotics don’t alter the effectiveness of antibiotics. Antibiotics are powerful! And they’re designed to kill bacteria, so probiotic bacteria don’t stand a chance against pharmaceuticals. That said, probiotics can make it a bit more pleasant for you while you’re taking antibiotics, and they can help your gut rebalance once your treatment’s complete.
Benefits of Taking Probiotics During and After Taking Antibiotics
Up to 39% of people experience diarrhea while taking antibiotics. And while your bathroom habits may not be something you want to discuss, that’s a number that’s hard to ignore!
Taking probiotics along with antibiotics can help prevent diarrhea. In fact, it’s been studied and proven to do so. If that’s not enough incentive to add probiotics to your diet, consider these benefits as well:
- Antibiotics often leave you with stomach upset, GI distress, and diarrhea. Probiotics help prevent or reduce these uncomfortable symptoms.
- Your gut’s not the only part of your body that has a delicate bacterial balance! Probiotics can support all areas of your body that depend on health bacteria — including the mouth, skin, vagina, and more!
- Probiotics help prevent post-antibiotic yeast infections for females.
- Your intestines are extra stressed when taking antibiotics — antibiotics are powerful! You may develop inflammation and irritation in your gut. Probiotics help prevent those side effects from escalating into long-term problems.
- Because antibiotics can harm your microbiome, they can also temporarily depress your immune system. Probiotics support healthy immune function by rebalancing the gut.
- If you experience stomach problems after antibiotics, you’re not alone! Many people experience nausea due to antibiotics. The best way to avoid nausea with antibiotics is to take them with a full meal if possible. (Your pharmacist should have covered that with you already.) The second best way is to boost your healthy bacteria with some probiotics.
How to Replenish Good Bacteria After Antibiotics
Congratulations, you’ve finished your antibiotics! But….now what? Should you stop taking probiotics?
Definitely not! Now that the antibiotic cycle is finished and no longer killing off bacteria every day, your body can really get to work rebalancing and replenishing the microbiome. So, support your intestines, immune system, and full-body health by repopulating that healthy bacteria!
- If you haven’t already, add probiotics to your daily diet. They introduce healthy bacteria that were killed during antibiotic treatment. After a pulse of antibiotics, we recommend choosing a high-potency probiotic first (Flora Basilica Everyday Ultra 150 Billion), then dropping down to a maintenance level (Flora Basilica Everyday Plus 50 Billion).
- Probiotics support the growth of brand new, healthy bacteria, fungi, and yeasts which help out your digestive system.
But, beyond taking probiotic supplements, there are some other things you can do to replenish the good bacteria in your gut after antibiotics:
- Eat fermented foods! They’re filled with healthy bacteria to add to your gut. Go for yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, etc.
- Bacteria need fuel, too! To promote healthy bacteria growth in your gut, feed good bacteria some gooooood food. They need prebiotic fiber for fuel.
- If you have a sweet tooth, it’s a good idea to cut back on your sugar intake to help replenish good bacteria after antibiotics. Refined sugar can wreak havoc on your gut flora, so it’s best to avoid it when you’re trying to rebalance. The same applies to empty carbs, soft drinks, juices, and alcohol.
How To Choose The Best Probiotic Supplement
It’s no surprise that there are lots of options when it comes to probiotic supplements. How do you choose which one’s right for you? There are several things to keep in mind.
Consider The Strain
Strains matter! Certain bacteria strains can be more effective for certain conditions versus others. Just looking for a probiotic for general bacterial repopulation? Struggling with diarrhea or uncomfortable digestive side effects of antibiotics during or after antibiotics? Choose a solid daily probiotic like Flora Basilica Everyday Ultra 150 Billion.
Prone to yeast infections? Reach for Renew Life Probiotics + Prebiotics Women’s Daily.
Questions? Click the LiveChat icon in the bottom right-hand corner and we’ll offer some recommendations tailored to your situation. Otherwise, we talk more about this a little further below.
Delivery’s Key For Absorption
Not all probiotic supplements are created equal! The best probiotics are formulated to be stomach-acid resistant. This way, they survive, intact, through to the intestines before releasing bacteria. This is where they’re most effective. So, do your research!
Should You Consider A Prebiotics plus Probiotic Combo?
When choosing a probiotic supplement, there are lots of options that include both prebiotics and probiotics. If you don’t consume much fiber in your daily diet, or you’re just looking to boost your daily fiber intake, a prebiotic/probiotic combo supplement is worth consideration. Bacteria feed on fiber, so prebiotics are beneficial when replenishing healthy bacteria is your goal.
What’s the Best Probiotic to Take After Antibiotics?
There are two main bacteria strains that have been studied for effectiveness in reducing digestive distress after antibiotics. They are Lactobacilli and Saccharomyces. And while there are many bacteria strains that are beneficial for healthy digestion, these two are key when it comes to rebalancing your microbiome after antibiotics.
Lactobacilli Probiotic Supplements
Lactobacilli have been proven to help reduce the likelihood of digestive distress after taking antibiotics. It’s a member of the lactic acid bacteria, and there are several different types of Lactobacilli.
It’s found naturally in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir. It’s been studied for its effectiveness against diarrhea. So, if you’re concerned about your bowel movements during or after antibiotics, this is a bacteria you’ll definitely want to look for in a supplement.
Saccharomyces Probiotic Supplements
Saccharomyces is technically not bacteria — it’s actually yeast! But don’t let that fool you, yeast plays an important role in digestive health, as well. Bacteria don’t get all the glory!
When taken along with antibiotics, Saccharomyces have also been shown to support digestive health. It reduces the likelihood of post-antibiotic diarrhea and supports the regrowth of healthy bacteria.
Our Favorite Probiotics To Take After Antibiotics
The Healthy Place stocks lots of probiotic supplements because they’re one of the most foundational supplements to health. They support immune health, brain health, joint mobility, nerve function, digestive function, cardiovascular health and so much more — because without a healthy gut, your body isn’t equipped to stay healthy!
But, in the case of probiotics after antibiotics, here are some we’d recommend:
- For A Thorough Dose Of Gut-Supportive Saccharomyces: Try Flora Basilica Everyday Ultra 150 Billion. It’s a broad-spectrum probiotic supplement that’s absolutely jam-packed with healthy bacteria. It contains 5 billion Saccharomyces to replenish bacteria lost while taking antibiotics. We suggest starting here after antibiotics and dropping to a lower dose for daily ongoing support.
- For Your Little One: Go for Gryph & Ivyrose Chewable Probiotics or Gryph & Ivyrose Children’s Chocolate Probiotics. They’re both deeee-licious and specially formulated with your child’s digestive tract in mind. Perfect for kids who need some extra help maintaining healthy, regular digestion!
- For Female-Targeted Bacteria: As mentioned above, gut bacteria is not the only bacteria you should consider when you’ve taken antibiotics. Try a supplement like Renew Life Probiotics + Prebiotics Women’s Daily to support the natural flora in your vagina.
- For Lactobacilli Power: Try a supplement like Flora Basilica Everyday Plus 50 Billion. It includes 12 probiotic strains, including Lactobacilli. Plus, each capsule is formulated for delayed-release, so you know that it will release where it’s most effective.
- For Prebiotic Fiber: If you’re looking to feed the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract and promote new growth a prebiotic fiber is key! Try Renew Life Daily Digestive Organic Prebiotic Fiber. It contains soluble and insoluble fiber to fuel growth in your gut.
How Long Does it Take for Good Bacteria to Restore After Antibiotics?
Without probiotics, a single round of antibiotics can still affect your gut health a year later. That’s right, a week of antibiotics and you could have digestive issues for 51 weeks, or longer. For people on antibiotics for weeks at a time who don’t repopulate their gut flora via probiotic supplements or diet, you may experience negative side effects for years — even permanent damage. No thanks!
Probiotics aren’t instant miracle workers. For issues like diarrhea, gas, and stomachache, they can reduce symptoms in a couple of days. For long-term worries? Probiotics are an excellent way to repair collateral damage from antibiotics in a way that is 100% safe. Your antibiotics knocked out your infection — and now probiotics can be the key to helping keep you safer in the future!
However — at any point that you’re concerned that you may be experiencing concerning side effects during or after taking antibiotics, you should immediately contact your doctor. Probiotics may be great helpers for your intestinal health, but they’re no replacement for professional medical advice when things aren’t going your way.
How Long Should You Take Probiotics?
While probiotics are especially beneficial during and after antibiotics, consider adding them to your diet, full-time. Supporting your gut regularly allows your body’s digestive system to function at its best. Plus, there’s no definitive research with a recommendation. So, err on the side of caution and continue taking probiotics for the long run!
We’re Always Here to Help
Still have questions about probiotics? Get in touch! Our team’s here to answer all your product questions, discuss your gut health, or sound off on how you can rebalance your biome after antibiotics. Contact us here! We’re always happy to help our customers find their healthy place.
Kerna NA. A complementary medicine approach to augmenting antibiotic therapy: current practices in the use of probiotics during antibiotic therapy. Int J Complement Alt Med. 2018;11(2):62–66. DOI: 10.15406/ijcam.2018.11.00368