The use of special antibiotics comes close to “deforestation”. The only difference is that in this case, it is not trees that you have to give way to, but beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal flora.

Your microbiome plays a major role in your health. After all, the majority of immune cells are located in the intestine. Therefore, it is important to maintain the biodiversity of the intestinal inhabitants.

Read More: How to Strengthen Your Body’s Own Natural Immune System? >

We’ll reveal how the intestinal flora can recover after taking antibiotics and the role probiotics play in this process. In addition, we take an exciting excursion into science to find out what current studies have to say about the modern way of “reforestation”.

The Miracle of the Intestine

The intestine is a true marvel. For a long time, it was assumed that the intestine was solely responsible for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. In recent years, however, researchers have uncovered numerous secrets about this organ, which can be up to 7 meters long.

Did you know that your intestine is the command center of your immune defense? It uses various defense strategies to ensure that invaders are effectively destroyed. The intestinal mucosa, especially in the small intestine, possesses special cells. These cells, known as Paneth cells, secrete substances that attack the intruders. With the “M cells” immune cells are able to take up pathogens and channel them directly to the responsible defense cells.

There is also the gut-associated immune system (GALT). It takes on a special significance when it comes to fighting pathogens. The GALT includes the pharyngeal and palatine tonsils and the solitary lymphoid follicles of the intestine.

Furthermore, a certain part of the appendix, the so-called Appendix Vermiformis, helps the immune system.

The fact is: 70% of your immune cells are located in your intestine alone.

Last but not least, it is believed that the intestine can influence emotions. This is said to be possible with intestinal bacteria that are able to communicate with each other. The signal compounds released are then received by receptors, which in turn are connected to the brain.

Intestinal Bacteria: a Great Mix for Health

Your intestine is home to numerous microorganisms. According to research, at least 1014 tiny creatures exist in the largest internal organ. If someone were to weigh this large number of bacteria, the scale would read 1.5-2 kg. Incredible, isn’t it?

All these great tiny creatures make up the intestinal flora. Both “good” and “bad” bacteria find their place here. Don’t worry, the “bad” bacteria are not a problem as long as the good microorganisms are the top dogs.

This is exactly where antibiotics come into play. They can often be identified as the culprit when the good bacteria are reduced.

The Best Friends and Worst Enemies of our Intestines

Source: Shutterstock

What Antibiotics Do to the Intestinal Flora

Purulent Tonsils, a stubborn urinary tract infection, or pneumonia – whenever bacteria threaten your health, antibiotics are the remedy of choice.

In the past, antibiotics were commonly and often prescribed. However, studies have shown that frequent use led to resistance – the pathogens were then no longer impressed by the drugs.

This has led to a change in thinking, and today, antibiotics are prescribed much less frequently. Nevertheless, there are diseases that make their use necessary. Unfortunately, this also has serious consequences for the beneficial bacteria in the intestine.

Study Reveals Devastating Potential of Antibiotics

A study has impressively demonstrated that antibiotics have a significant impact on the delicate balance of intestinal flora.

Researchers from Denmark, Germany, and China joined forces to investigate the effects of therapy with a broad-spectrum antibiotic on intestinal bacteria.

Quick info upfront: it took six months for the valuable microbiome to fully recover. Selected bacterial species did not return during the study period.

But how did the scientists get these results? Six healthy, young men volunteered for this. They were all given a mix consisting of three different antibiotics over 4 days.

The chosen drugs are usually used when conventional antibiotics have no effect. After taking the drugs, the researchers studied what was happening in the intestines of the study participants for six months.

Using DNA sequencing – a molecular biology analysis method – the researchers were able to determine how the intestinal bacteria behaved.

The good news: Despite the administration, bacteria survived.

Let’s use our example from the beginning. After “deforestation”, the intestinal flora recovered step by step. However, it was noticeable that the pathogenic germs initially reappeared. These included Enterococcus Faecalis and Fusobacterium Nucleatum, for example.

Perhaps you too have already experienced gastrointestinal disorders after taking antibiotics. The research team also found a possible explanation for this in the study. They found a particularly high number of virulence factors after taking antibiotics. These are metabolic products and structures that tend not to be beneficial to health and have the potential to cause gastrointestinal problems.

Bacteria Out of Sync: How to Recognize an Imbalance?

Not every antibiotic automatically causes your intestinal flora to become unbalanced. However, an unhealthy diet and stress can additionally make your subtenants in the intestines feel unwell.

If several factors come together, even harmless antibiotics can cause discomfort, with the consequences such as flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation. Those affected also describe a general feeling of discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract.

Building Up the Intestinal Flora: Probiotics as Helpers?

Let’s keep in mind: Antibiotics can reduce the number of bacteria in the intestine.

Unfortunately, this means that the good bacteria also come to a quick end. Over time, the intestinal flora manages to regenerate itself. However, bad germs are first on the agenda.

Read More: The Best Friends and Worst Enemies of our Intestines >

Over time, good microorganisms join them, for example in the form of Bifidobacteria. They produce lactic acid and keep pathogens at bay. After about half a year, your intestinal flora will have returned to normal, although some types of bacteria may still be missing.

Six months is a long time. For this reason, many people affected wonder whether they can help the colonization of good bacteria along.

In selected studies, it has been observed that probiotics can exert effects on intestinal flora and immunological processes. In addition, probiotics are believed to be helpful in various diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, or Infantile Diarrhea.

Source: Shutterstock

What Are Probiotics?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as: “Viable microorganisms that, when administered in sufficient quantity, produce a health-promoting effect on the host.”

Probiotics are said to make it possible to restore the function of natural intestinal bacteria. Medicinal products are recommended to augment the human microbiome with bacterial strains.

Read More: How Can I Improve My Gut Health? >

Probiotics are said to have the following effects:

  • Regulation of the digestion
  • Regeneration of the intestinal cells
  • Strengthening of the intestinal barrier
  • Support of the immune system
  • Promotion of the settlement of “good” bacteria

In addition, a recent study showed that the probiotic Bifidobacterium Longum 1714 TM specifically facilitates the handling and processing of stress.

The University Hospital of Tübingen administered an appropriate probiotic to 40 study participants. By means of brain scans, it was possible to prove that stress was easier to cope with after ingestion. These are good prospects for further research into the tiny intestinal inhabitants.

There are numerous microorganisms that maintain your health. However, in order to exert a positive effect after ingestion, probiotics must meet some requirements.

First of all, it is important that they reach the colon in as large numbers as possible. Therefore, those bacterial cultures that defy stomach acid are best suited. They should also be unaffected by the bile acid and digestive enzymes.

Once the microorganisms have cleared the hurdles, they must attach themselves to the intestinal wall. This is the only way to successfully colonize and support the intestinal flora on site. Various types of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli have proven to be particularly helpful.

We rely on the following beneficial helpers in our Arktis Arktibiotic Select:

  • Bifidobacterium Bifidum
  • Enterococcus Faecium
  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus Casei
  • Lactococcus Lactis
  • Lactococcus Salivarius

Did you know that the microorganisms also have to “eat” something themselves? With the help of so-called prebiotics, they get the food they need. These are non-digestible food components that are beneficial for the growth and activity of colon bacteria.

Dietary fibers such as inulin and Oligofructose are suitable for this purpose – our product, therefore, contains excipients such as α-Amylase, Maltodextrin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, and a small number of Fructo-Oligosaccharides.

By the way: From study results, it can be deduced that a longer-term intake over weeks is useful. When using the product, you should always follow the recommended dosage.

Our Tip: Support the Reforestation of Beneficial Intestinal Bacteria

In addition to probiotics, an adapted diet is also advised to promote the growth of health-promoting bacteria in the gut. Sugar mainly serves as food for “bad” bacteria and should therefore play a secondary role during the reforestation process. Instead, you should turn to fermented foods. Fermented foods such as cabbage, kimchi, or miso also contain probiotics and are a good recommendation. It’s best to provide food for the good bacteria at the same time.

Vegetables, fruit, and whole-grain products are ideal for this purpose. In combination with a probiotic (dietary supplement), you pull out all the stops to give your fellow inhabitants a helping hand.

Sources

  1. Murphy K, Travers P, Walport M, Janeway Immunologie. Aufl. Spektrum, Heidelberg 2009
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21750565
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21485746
  4. https://www.aerztezeitung.de/Medizin/Wichtig-fuer-das-Immunsystem-265563.html
  5. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-018-0257-9
  6. https://www.medizin.uni-tuebingen.de/de/das-klinikum/pressemeldungen/meldung/163
  7. https://magendarm-zentrum.de/images/dokumente/publikationen/darmflora-probiotika/probiotika-und-reizdarm.pdf
Jennifer Ann Steinort

Autorin Jennifer Ann Steinort

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