One Course of Antibiotics Can Impact Your Gut Microbiome For Up to 1 Year

Over the years, science has brought to light the importance of taking antibiotics only when absolutely necessary – to strictly fight bacterial infections that cannot be overcome by more natural means.

For generations, our over-reliance on antibiotics to fight and prevent infections has led to the creation of super bugs and have wreaked havoc on our gut microbiomes, which are essential to the body’s ability to prevent and fight disease.

Even the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention now recommend that antibiotics only be taken after proper screening, under very specific guidelines and only when absolutely necessary.

Most of us know that antibiotics are very harmful to the gut’s microbes, but few people know just how damaging they can be. A current study, however, is now bringing to light the true scope of this damage.

In this study, researchers assessed the fecal and salivary samples of 66 healthy adults from the United Kingdom and Sweden immediately after they received a full course of one of four antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, amoxicillin or minocycline) or a placebo, and at 1, 2, 4, and 12 months afterwards.

They discovered that while the salivary microbiome was rather quick to bounce back to it’s more standard makeup (typically after 1 to 4 weeks), a single course of antibiotics increased the number of genes associated with antibiotic resistance and severely changed the microbial diversity in the subjects’ guts for up to 12 months after exposure.

Two of the antibiotics, specifically clindamycin and ciprofloxacin, even showed “a severe and long-term impact on the health-associated [short chain fatty acid] butyrate-producing microbial community of the gut.” Butyrates are important sources of food for the cells that line the colon. Without them, the colon cells digest themselves and die.  In these cells, butyrate increases energy production, cell proliferation, and may even protect against colon cancer.

The researchers claim that “even a single antibiotic treatment in healthy individuals contributes to the risk of resistance development and leads to long-lasting detrimental shifts in the gut microbiome” [my emphasis].

This information is crucial, especially to those who are considering taking antibiotics. If you once thought that a single course of antibiotics couldn’t produce long lasting gut microbial damage, the results of this study strongly suggests otherwise.

That is why it is so essential to avoid antibiotics if you can. And if you absolutely need them, know that it will likely take a great deal of time and effort on your part to help restore your gut microbes to a more diverse and populated state.

If you must go on antibiotics, be sure to help your gut repopulate those good microbes by eating a diet rich in whole, organic produce, organically fed meat and poultry, wild fish, good quality fats, and low in processed carbohydrates, sugars and additives; by taking a good quality oral probiotic and homemade fermented veggies; and by eating a diet rich in prebiotics (chemicals that nourish your gut bacteria).



“Brainmaker Foods.”

“One course of antibiotics disrupts gut microbiome for a year.” Nov 10, 2015.

“Same Exposure but Two Radically Different Responses to Antibiotics: Resilience of the Salivary Microbiome versus Long-Term Microbial Shifts in Feces.” American Society for Microbiology. September / October 2015, vol. 6 issue 5.


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