What to Eat While on Antibiotics

If you have been prescribed antibiotics to cure a bacterial infection, you may also need to change your diet during antibiotics' progression through your gut. The best food to eat with antibiotics to avoid nausea and diarrhea are those that help improve your gut health.

Antibiotics can affect the good bacteria in your gut, and studies show foods with probiotics, like yogurt, can help with side effects. Credit: Vesna Jovanovic / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

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Antibiotics can affect the good bacteria in your gut, and studies show foods with probiotics, like yogurt, can help with side effects. The best yogurt to eat while on antibiotics has both active and live cultures.

Side Effects of Antibiotics

Even though antibiotics are prescribed to help fight off bacterial infections, some people report feeling sick after taking antibiotics. According to the Cleveland Clinic, as the antibiotics work to kill off the bacteria in your lungs or sinuses, they are also killing those good bacteria that are in your stomach.

The most common side effects that result in feelings sick after taking antibiotics are nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and gas, says the Cleveland Clinic. These symptoms usually go away shortly after stopping your antibiotic treatment. For those who are on antibiotics for a long period of time, there is a risk of developing a more severe infection called C. diff, which would require medical intervention.

A November 2015 study in the American Society for Microbiology showed that taking antibiotics for just one week actually changes the makeup of your stomach bacteria for up to one year. This fact, along with the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, is why many doctors are hesitant to prescribe antibiotics unless they know you have a bacteria infection. Viral infections are not helped by any antibiotics.

If you are on antibiotics, there are foods you can eat that will help replace these beneficial gut bacteria and thereby decrease the chance of side effects.

Read more: 6 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

Antibiotic-Friendly Food

According to an April 2019 study in the Cochrane Database for Systematic Reviews, the best foods to eat with antibiotics to avoid nausea and diarrhea are probiotics. The study found that probiotics help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea by restoring the beneficial gut microflora.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there are several ways to get probiotics, including supplements in the form of tablets or powders. Talk to your doctor before taking a supplement, so you can get the dose that is right for you. If you are taking a supplement, make sure it contains probiotics with Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Saccharomyces boulardii.

You can also eat foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt. The best yogurt to eat while on antibiotics will have both active and live cultures, as noted on the label. Eat one or two servings of plain Greek yogurt each day that you are taking antibiotics.

Harvard Health says that even though the best yogurt to eat while on antibiotics has plenty of cultures, you can also get probiotics in other fermented foods. Kefir is a fermented drink that is loaded with gut-healthy probiotics and has a tangy taste you may enjoy. For those who can't consume dairy, you can also get probiotics from fermented vegetables, including pickles and sauerkraut.

Read more: Is Greek Yogurt Healthier Than Regular Yogurt?

Antibiotics With or Without Food?

Taking your medicine with food may help you prevent feeling sick after taking antibiotics, however make sure you check your label first, as some antibiotics need to be taken on an empty stomach so they are absorbed properly. Also check your label to see if your antibiotics should not be taken with milk, as this can decrease the effectiveness of some formulations.

In general, make sure that if you have diarrhea, you are staying hydrated. The Cleveland Clinic recommends drinking water or sports drinks with electrolytes, while avoiding caffeine or alcohol, either of which could make your stomach issues worse. In addition to incorporating probiotics or fermented foods into your diet, try to eat more bland foods, and avoid anything spicy until your stomach calms down.

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