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Why Eat Yogurt with Antibiotics?

author image Erica Wickham, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
Erica Wickham covers health, exercise and lifestyle topics for various websites. She completed an internship in dietetics and earned a Master of Science in dietetics from D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y. Wickham now serves as a registered dietitian.
Why Eat Yogurt with Antibiotics?
Eating yogurt during antibiotic treatment can help restore bacterial balance in the intestines.

Antibiotics are necessary to help treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics work by killing the bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal flora, thereby eliminating disease. However, antibiotics are known to eliminate some of the intestine's good bacteria as well. Consuming yogurt, with its live, active cultures, assists the body in restoring a healthy and balanced intestinal tract.

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Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Bacteria are tiny organisms that can cause illnesses such as tuberculosis, salmonella, syphilis and meningitis. In general, antibiotics work in two ways; they kill bacteria and stop bacteria from multiplying. Both work to remove harmful bacteria from the body and restore a normal balance.

Antibiotic Side Effects

Antibiotics often have adverse side effects, the most common being diarrhea; fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract and vagina such as thrush or a yeast infection; inflammation of the bowels; and general nausea and even vomiting. Rare side effects include formation of kidney stones, abnormal blood clotting, sensitivity to sun, blood disorders and deafness.


Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. These “friendly” or “good” bacteria are found primarily in foods and supplements. Friendly bacteria are essential to the development of the immune system, protection against disease-causing microorganisms and the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. However, the bacterial balancing act can be easily disrupted, especially when on antibiotics because they kill friendly bacteria along with the bad bacteria in the gut. Consuming yogurt during antibiotic treatment helps to maintain the population of beneficial bacteria within the body.


The Bastyr Center for Natural Health reports that individuals who eat yogurt during antibiotic treatment are less likely to develop diarrhea. Antibiotic associated diarrhea is one of the most common adverse effects of antibiotic treatment, affecting up to 39 percent of patients. It ranges in degree from mild to life threatening and can cause severe inflammation of the colon. Consuming yogurt, which contains a variety of beneficial bacterial strains, effectively prevents antibiotic-associated diarrhea. It also reduces bloating and frequent bowel movements.


When on antibiotic therapy, probiotic yogurt should be taken at least two hours after each dose of medication. When the antibiotic treatment has been completed, the probiotic yogurt amount should be doubled or tripled for 10 to 14 days to ensure complete restoration of the intestinal bacterial balance.

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