It’s probably safe to say that most of us have at least one childhood memory that involves choking down a liquid antibiotic that even a spoonful of sugar couldn’t help. Despite all the attempts to mask the taste with bubble gum, cherry, and grape flavors, our sophisticated palates told us that this stuff was “icky!”
Of course, we eventually got it down and hopefully within a couple of days we were feeling much better – once again reminded that mom and dad know best.
Overuse of Antibiotics
We know that antibiotics are important for keeping us healthy and stopping the spread of disease, however it is becoming more apparent that the overuse of antibiotics may have more negative consequences than we first thought.
Some of the negative consequences like antibiotic resistance are somewhat well known, but there are other side effects that may catch you by surprise. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics found that repeated exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics within the first 24 months of life significantly increases a child’s likelihood of becoming obese later in life.1
The results of this study are troubling considering the high rates and negative health effects of obesity plus reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showing that children aged 0-2 have the highest rates of antibiotic use of any age group.
Another study showed that broad-spectrum antibiotics are being used in children and adolescents more often than narrow-spectrum antibiotics, with a 143% increase in use between 2000 and 2010.2 Even more alarming is that almost 80% of antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory illnesses were deemed unnecessary based on accepted practice guidelines.3
How do antibiotics contribute to obesity?
The authors of the JAMA-Pediatrics study concluded that the link between broad-spectrum antibiotic use during childhood and obesity is most likely a result of the disruption of healthy intestinal bacteria (probiotics) caused by antibiotics, and this finding is supported by additional research. Countless studies have confirmed the importance of intestinal bacteria in maintaining your health with several studies linking specific intestinal microflora to obesity and other metabolic disorders.4–9
Healthy intestines require a proper balance between beneficial bacteria and harmful (pathogenic) bacteria.10 Certain foods and medications disrupt this balance causing negative effects throughout the entire body.11
When you take a broad-spectrum antibiotic, it not only kills the bacteria making you sick, but can also kill your beneficial intestinal bacteria that keep you healthy. This is one of the reasons that every antibiotic is capable of causing upset stomach or diarrhea and also why your healthcare provider may recommend using a prebiotic and/or probiotic supplement when taking antibiotics.
Prebiotics and Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
The term “prebiotic” is used to describe the food that “probiotic” bacteria eat. When you incorporate prebiotic fiber into your diet, it naturally supports and maintains the balance of healthy bacteria in your intestines by providing them with an ample food supply. When these beneficial bacteria are thriving, they crowd out the harmful bacteria that make you sick, cause inflammation, and are linked to obesity. Pinnaclife Prebiotic Fiber contains a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to increase the amount of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in your intestines.12,13
In contrast, “Probiotic” foods and supplements contain actual living bacteria. They work by restoring levels of healthy bacteria by ingesting large quantities of living bacteria. Their effectiveness relies on a high concentration of viable (living) bacteria surviving long enough to make it into your large intestines, where they only flourish if there is enough prebiotic food available to support them.
Most quality commercial sources of probiotics require refrigeration to prevent the bacteria from dying while the product is in transit or sits on a shelf. Even when stored properly, they generally lose potency quickly and have a short shelf life. Some food sources that advertise their probiotic content, such as frozen yogurt, contain little to no viable probiotics because of manufacturing processes, freezing, heating, or bacteria-killing preservatives. Natural probiotic foods also tend to contain only a small fraction of the probiotics you would find in a more expensive nutritional supplement.
Prebiotic fiber foods and supplements do not need to contain any living bacteria to provide benefits, so they do not typically require refrigeration and will not lose potency on the shelf or after being frozen or heated.14,15 Incorporating quality prebiotic fiber sources daily can help you maintain a healthy balance of probiotic bacteria in your intestines, often for much less cost than probiotic supplements.16–18
Be careful though – some prebiotic fibers like inulin, wheat dextrin, and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) can break down into simple sugars when they are heated or exposed to acidic environments, including in your stomach. In comparison, the prebiotic fiber digestion-resistant maltodextrin does not break down into simple sugars in the stomach or when incorporated into other foods.
You should also consider providing your body with vital antioxidants and other nutrients through your diet and quality nutritional supplements to boost your immune system and stay healthy. After all, the best way to reduce the side effects from antibiotics is to avoid needing to use them in the first place!
Blog Provided by: Kyle Hilsabeck, Pharm D
Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. Pinnaclife products are dietary supplements and are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The decision to use these products should be discussed with a trusted healthcare provider. The authors and the publisher of this work have made every effort to use sources believed to be reliable to provide information that is accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The authors and the publisher shall not be liable for any special, consequential, or exemplary damages resulting, in whole or in part, from the readers’ use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this article. The publisher has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third party Internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
Copyright 2017 McCord Research – All Rights Reserved.
Gross medicine spoon: iStock_000007217285_Large.jpg
Antibiotic resistance: iStock_000043358460_Full.jpg
Belly tape measure: iStock_000052865144_XXXLarge.jpg
Upset Stomach: iStock_000042394834_XXXLarge.jpg
Girl eating yogurt: iStock_000009388130_Full.jpg
Happy family: iStock_000035688048_XXXLarge.jpg