Flood your gut with these to bounce back faster
Everyone should be taking probiotics daily. In our modern diets, the foods that naturally contain the beneficial bacteria your gut needs—fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi—are truly good for you, and they help. But your stomach acids kill most of the beneficial bacteria before they can get to your small intestines, where they do the most good.
That’s why probiotics are such an essential part of your health. But there are times when, unavoidably, you’ll need a little extra help. After taking a course of antibiotics, for instance, or after a particularly nasty case of norovirus. When that happens, you need to change your routine.
The Benefits of Probiotics
You already know just how important the microbiome in your gut is.
It’s involved in countless aspects of your health—from digestive health, to regulating your mood. They help you digest nutrients and, perhaps most importantly, they represent roughly 70% of your immune system.
And we’re discovering new benefits of a healthy gut microbiome every day. We’re still in the early innings of figuring out how extensive the relationship is between your body and your gut microbiome. This is one of the most exciting—and fastest-moving—developments in medicine today.
But, unfortunately, most people can’t support a healthy microbiome without assistance.
That’s because the bacteria in your gut are in need of constant replenishment.
After all—how often do you eat an organic yogurt with active cultures in it? How often do you eat tempeh, or kombucha, or kefir, or fermented vegetables like kimchi or sauerkraut?
The answer for almost everyone is, not often enough. If you aren’t eating at least one—and preferably more—of these foods every day, the microbiome in your gut will suffer.
Worse, that same microbiome is under constant attack. Every time you consume processed food, you’re getting a mouthful of sugars, preservatives, and chemicals that wreak havoc in your gut’s microbiome.
If you drink unfiltered water from the tap—and you don’t let it sit at least 30 minutes—chances are you’re ingesting chlorine, which is used to sterilize municipal water systems. Chlorine is bad enough for your body as it is—to the beneficial bacteria in your gut, it’s poison.
Even eating too much organic, healthy meat can screw up the balance of your microbiome. The beneficial bacteria in your gut thrive on fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Everything else feeds other, less helpful—or downright harmful—bacteria, crowding the good ones out.
But sometimes, even a daily probiotic isn’t enough.
When You Need More Than Your Daily Probiotic
There are times when your microbiome gets flushed down the toilet—sometimes literally.
And when that happens, you need to take more extensive measures.
If you’ve had an illness that required antibiotics, for instance, your gut is cleaned out of bad and good bacteria.
If you’re sick with lots of nausea and diarrhea, you wind up evacuating lots of the microbiome.
Even a colon cleanse can wind up cleaning out more than you bargained for.
Luckily, replacing your missing or damaged microbiome with healthy bacteria is a simple, easy task.
You mega-dose on probiotics.
When I say mega-dose, I mean, instead of taking one pill a day, take five or even 10 at a time, sometimes multiple times a day.
And that course can go on for up to a month.
Let’s get specific.
If you’ve just gone through an antibiotic course, you should take 5-10 pills, with at least 10 billion CFU, and at least four or five strains of bacteria, every day. You should continue your course for a full month—though you can taper down the number of pills you take each day bit by bit.
Some people like to take probiotics during their antibiotics course, to try to keep things as normal as possible during treatment. You’re welcome to do that—just remember, each probiotic you take will be wiped out by your next dose of antibiotics.
For that reason, you should counter-program your probiotics as much as possible. If you’re taking an antibiotic in the morning, have your probiotic at night, or vice versa.
Now if you’ve just got a case of the runs, again, you should take a mega-dose of 5-10 pills. Indeed, you should do that to aid recovery from any gastrointestinal illness.
However, as soon as your symptoms go away, you can go back to taking just one probiotic a day.
It’s important to bear in mind, you’ve got more flexibility with probiotics than most supplements. That’s because you can’t take too many—there is no maximum dose.
That’s why, if I’ve got a particularly nasty illness, I’ll sometimes take 5 probiotic supplements every two hours, until my symptoms stop.
Flooding your system with beneficial bacteria is always a good thing. Especially when you’re trying to fight an illness, and a healthy microbiome can provide a much-needed assist.
The important thing to remember is this: After your body has suffered a trauma like a severe illness or a treatment of antibiotics, it’s important to get yourself back to normal as quickly as you can. And one of the most important—but most overlooked—aspects of that is replenishing your depleted store of healthy bacteria.
A mega-dose of probiotics does the trick. And you’ll probably be surprised just how quickly it can help you feel normal again.
Last Updated: May 29, 2021
Originally Published: February 6, 2017