NUGGET : ANTIBIOTICS are drugs that kill all bacteria – this is not necessarily a good thing. While we want to kill off all the bad bugs, these drugs also kill useful bacteria called probiotics (friendly bacteria).
Experts estimate five to 25 per cent of patients treated with antibiotics develop diarrhoea. The bacteria, Clostridium difficile (C,difficile), only become harmful and cause mild to severe diarrhoea when the other bacteria are killed off by antibiotics.
Children and the elderly who have reduced immune function are more at risk.
Researchers at Imperial College and Hammersmith Hospital in London found that consuming probiotic bacteria, such as those found in yoghurt, kefir and probiotic supplements can help prevent diarrhoea associated with antibiotic use, reports the British Medical Journal.
Probiotic supplements contain beneficial live bacteria that help replenish gut flora destroyed by antibiotics. Disruption of the friendly bacteria can result in diarrhoea, gas, candida albicans (a fungus) infection and other gastrointestinal problems.
Lesser chance of gastrointestinal problem
12 per cent of those who took the probiotic drink developed antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.
This compares very well with 34 per cent of those that received the sterile drink. Seventeen per cent of those that did not receive the probiotic had C. difficile-associated diarrhoea, while there were no cases of C. difficile among those who received the probiotics. Thus, those taking probiotics were three times less likely to get gastrointestinal problems.
Probiotics assist immune function by:
- Inhibiting harmful bacterial growth
- Promoting good digestion
- Maintaining proper pH
- Enhancing immune function
Probiotics produce bacteria-inhibiting substances (natural antibiotics) and prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to vaginal, urinary, and intestinal tract mucosal linings.
It also has the ability to suppress H. pylori which has been linked to stomach ulcers and may be useful in preventing acute infectious diarrhoea, urinary tract infections and in restoring vaginal flora. Sadly, our foods, especially commercially-derived meat, is contaminated with low doses of antibiotics that are often used as growth promoters of poultry, chicken, cows and pigs.
Antibiotics often destroy friendly bacteria on skin and in urinary, vaginal, and intestinal tracts. Probiotics can be used to restore the natural floral balance in organ and body systems after antibiotic treatment.
In their study, 135 men and women over the age of 50 were given antibiotics.
They were randomly divided to receive a commercially available probiotic yoghurt drink or a sterile milkshake (without any probiotics). The probiotic drink and the sterile milkshake were given within 48 hours of the start of the antibiotic therapy. This continued twice daily until a week following the discontinuance of the drugs.
The probiotic drink contains active cultures of friendly bacteria called Lactobacillus casei,Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.