Antibiotics are known for disrupting the balance of the gut microbiome, but did you know other medications can also do a number on your gut health? Our gut microbiome hosts about 1,000 unique species of bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. They help regulate our immune system, produce critical nutrients, help us digest food, and protect us from pathogens and toxins.
Medications That Can Throw Your Gut Microbiome Out of Balance
For our gut to be healthy and do its job, we need to make sure the bacteria in our gut are balanced. However, many common medications can upset that balance.
Antibiotics – possibly one of the most well-known medications that can throw off your gut balance, antibiotics are effective at treating serious bacterial infections. So good, in fact, that they can knock out the good as well as the bad bacteria in your gut.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) – although great for treating pain, NSAIDs can disrupt your healthy gut balance.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – PPIs are acid blockers used to treat acid reflux, indigestion, and peptic ulcers. They can also reduce the diversity of your gut bacteria. This can lead to an increase in infections like Clostridium difficcile and pneumonia as well as bone fractures and vitamin deficiencies.
Antacids—neutralize the acid in your gut, which is your body’s first line of defense against harmful pathogens. It increases the risks of stomach bugs and infection if antacids are taken regularly.
Antidepressants – a popular class of antidepressants is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. Scientists estimate that 90% of serotonin is made in the gut. Imbalances in serotonin have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.
Sleeping pills – these fat-soluble drugs can penetrate the gut wall and harm the natural balance of the digestive system.
Laxatives – laxatives can damage your gut and affect the balance of your gut bacteria. They should be used in moderation and only under the supervision of a doctor or healthcare provider.
Statins – these cholesterol-lowering medications are some of the most commonly prescribed in the world. Recent research indicates that statins can throw off the balance of gut bacteria. Additional studies are needed.
How to Get Your Gut Health Back in Balance after Getting Off Medications
One of the main side effects of the medications above is that they disrupt the balance of gut bacteria. Poor gut health can impair your digestion, reduce nutrient absorption, and even result in immune-related diseases. An unhealthy gut can have a significant impact on your mental health and weight, among others. Here are 5 ways you can bring your gut back to health.
Include Probiotics and Prebiotics
Fermented foods are a naturally rich source of probiotics that boost the good bacteria required for gut health and overall health. You can find them in yogurt, kimchi, miso, kefir, tempeh, and apple cider vinegar.
Prebiotics are dietary plant fibers that feed probiotics. Prebiotic food consists of bananas, asparagus, artichokes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and whole grains.
Adding these foods to your diet can help restore your gut health. You can also supplement your diet with probiotics supplements geared specifically to your gender and age group, and any specific health issues.
Studies have shown that aerobic exercise such as walking, running, and HIIT, among others, can help the good bacteria take control of your gut. Having a higher level of cardiorespiratory fitness has been connected to greater microbial diversity.
Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness have been associated with greater microbial diversity. Your body is better able to metabolize fatty acids when you are in good shape with cardio training.
Change Your Dietary Habits
There’s always a big sigh after this one. We all know that the bad bacteria in our gut loves sugar and processed food as much as we do. In addition, cutting out meat can help keep your gut healthy. Veganism may be key to a healthy gut. It can alter the makeup of the gut microbiome for the better. Try to eliminate as much sugar and processed food as you can from your diet and reduce your consumption of meat to help get your gut back in balance.
Drink Alcohol in Moderation to Help Restore Your Gut Balance
Although wine and beer can be rich in probiotics, they should not be your first choice. Alcohol has a caustic effect on the lining of your stomach. And, when you drink, you often also nibble on chips and high-fat food that can also damage your gut microbiome, which also has a damaging effect on your stomach lining.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Your gut and your mental health are connected. Remember that saying, “trust your gut?” Turns out, there’s something to it. Many researchers have started to refer to the gut as the second brain. Your gut is very vulnerable to stress, which in turn can affect blood flow, gastric secretions, gut sensitivity, and gut motility. Stress hormones also affect hormone secretion and gut bacteria.
Stress can cause a shift in gut microflora that can leave you open to infections. Long-term stress may lead to the development of stomach ulcers, IBD, IBS, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), and food allergies. Try to destress with yoga, exercise, medication, hydrotherapy, and relaxing salt baths.
A Note from GR8NESS
Please keep in mind that we are not doctors and do not give out medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about the side effects of any medications you are taking, and if they may be affecting your gut health. Never just stop taking a medication that has been prescribed by your healthcare provider. Only your doctor can weigh the benefits of the medicines against potential side effects and risks.