Should You Take Probiotics or Antibiotics?

November 22, 2022

Is taking probiotics with antibiotics helpful or a waste of money? Antibiotics are prescribed to treat illnesses cause by harmful bacteria. Most of the harmful bacteria aren’t normally present in our bodies, but there are a lot of “good” bacteria normally present in our gut. Since the job of the antibiotic is to attack and kill bacteria, the “good” bacteria are also attacked.


Probiotics’ purpose is to introduce good bacteria into the gut. They are live organisms that help treat and even prevent some illnesses. Probiotics directly affect the health of our digestive systems and immune health. Probiotics are found in food like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods and drinks. Additionally, probiotics are available as a supplement in liquid, capsule, powder and tablet forms. It’s recommended that everyone have probiotics in their diet on a daily basis.


If antibiotics are killing bacteria in our bodies and gut, is it pointless to take probiotics when you are taking antibiotics? Are they just being killed off? Are you wasting your money? Not necessarily. It’s important to your overall health to keep as much “good” bacteria in your gut as possible. Increasing the amount of probiotics you are taking while taking antibiotics can be a good thing. The health of our gut directly correlates to the health of our body. Additionally, antibiotics have been known to cause severe gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. Putting good bacteria in to replace the good bacteria that were attacked is important. Another benefit of probiotics is helping to prevent and treat yeast infections, which many develop while taking antibiotics since the good bacteria is attacked.


Foods with naturally occurring probiotics such as yogurt and sauerkraut are recommended as part of your daily diet even when you aren’t taking antibiotics. Continue consuming these “good” bacteria powerhouses. There are a wide range of supplemental probiotics and they come in many forms, liquid, capsule, pill, even powders. They have different strains and varying levels of probiotic strains (colony forming units or CFUs). Different strains of bacteria will interact differently with each antibiotic. Additionally, how the probiotic is designed to be broken down will affect the number of CFUs that you need. Discuss this with your healthcare provider and research the probiotic you are considering.


There is no definitive research on timing of taking probiotics with antibiotics, but it stands to reason that if the antibiotic is attacking the probiotic, taking them as far apart as possible during the day would make sense. It’s also important to continue to take probiotics for a few weeks after completing an antibiotic prescription to restore the good bacteria in your gut.


While taking supplemental probiotics is generally considered safe, they are not regulated by the FDA. Be sure to discuss taking probiotics and antibiotics with your physician prior to beginning a regimen. While generally safe, there may be concerns for elderly, children, women who are pregnant, those with certain health conditions, compromised immune systems or other concerns.


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