17 Aug 2015
how to improve your gut health after antibiotics
The jar of wildflowers on the dining room table is a sure sign that Spring is just around the corner. And frankly, it can't come soon enough. Winter saw us succumb to more than our fair share of runny noses and general malaise and what with the extra strain that breastfeeding places on a Mumma's body, I unfortunately was hit the hardest. After battling a nasty cough for weeks as best as I could with natural remedies and rest, I finally had to wave the white flag and take a course of antibiotics. Although a necessary evil that soon worked wonders on my respiratory health, their potency all but wiped out my gut flora. So now begins the slow task of healing my digestive system. Here are the ways I go about restoring my inner balance after a course of antibiotics:
~ A large jug of homemade bone broth or chicken stock is made weekly and added to almost all meals (to deglaze the pan, to loosen a sauce, in soups and stews...the uses are endless). It makes for a quick lunch when heated with freshly grated garlic, ginger and turmeric, a few snips of shallots and soba noodles and a substantial dinner when served with a big salad or roasted root veggies. I often sip a small cup in the late afternoon to avoid the sugar low. Easy to make it is both soothing and healing to the gut with the added benefit of immune boosting qualities.
~ I take a daily high quality pro-biotic to help repopulate gut flora. It's no secret that antibiotics kill bacteria and while that is a winner on the sickness front, they are indiscriminate assassins killing off the "good guys" on their warpath. I find this one of the easiest supplements to remember to take - its the first thing I take in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. Digestive activity is usually low at these time so gives them a great chance to work their magic. A daily dose of cod liver oil is also a must have supplement to helps reduce inflammation.
~ Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and miso make an appearance at least once a day. As a potent source of probiotics I like to make a quick soup for lunch with this miso and love the fresh crunch of this sauerkraut on fresh sourdough toast. With the warmer weather coming I'm looking forward to experimenting with my own homemade water kefir. Tricia has a wonderful tutorial I've bookmarked to refer to.
~ Minimising my sugar intake. Now this one is a tricky one for me! As a self confessed sweet tooth I will always prefer a sugary treat over a healthier alternative but with sugar aiding in the growth of bad bacteria I simply have to make better choices. A mid morning snack of a cup of tea and a slice of cake is now swapped for a handful of blueberries, some almonds, perhaps some hummus with raw veggies or a coconut milk smoothie. There's still cake in my world but for now its a once a week indulgence.
~ Eating a diet rich in pre-biotics. Now with the risk of over jargonising, pre-biotics are the foods that fuel the pro-biotics, nourishing them and helping them grow. Garlic, leeks and onions are gently sauteed to begin most meals as well as adding legumes (lentils and chickpeas) and beans, barley and root vegetables. I chop up a selection of both orange and white sweet potato, carrots, parsnip and pumpkin most mornings and stash them in the fridge until dinner prep. A quick coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then roasted in the oven for an hour makes for effortless veggies and a daily supply of pre-biotics.
Has the cold and flu season been unkind to you? Do you have any fail safe ways to protect your intestinal health?