Since the 1990’s Probiotics have become mainstream media as the go-to supplement to help keep one’s gastrointestinal tract healthy.
Probiotics are live bacterial cultures or live yeasts cultures that are used to provide additional good bacteria to the gut in order to provide the so needed balance between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria of our digestive system.
Antibiotics have been around since the late 1920’s in which penicillin was discovered and used as the first antibiotic. Antibiotics are medications that are used to treat bacterial infections and as such are not a supplement but rather a medication that provides treatments for infections that require intervention.
In order to better understand the difference between the two, while also understanding their interrelatedness, one must first understand these two topics individually, and then understand how one can benefit the other is imperative.
First as discussed above, Probiotics are live bacterial cultures or live yeast cultures that provide good bacterial support to the gut in order to allow regulation of the Gastrointestinal system.
There are many different types of Probiotics, but the main two live bacterial cultures include Lactobacillus and Bifid bacterium.
Two Types of Live Bacterial Cultures:
- Bifid bacterium
Each of those is live bacterial cultures that are present in dairy products and supplements. Probiotics are usually added to one’s diet because of a disruptive gastrointestinal tract. For example, when an individual experiences diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence there is normally a concern that develops and wishes for a solution.
Probiotics can help alleviate these symptoms which are usually caused by an imbalance between good and bad bacteria.
In the gastrointestinal tract there are both good and bad bacteria present, and it is imperative to homeostasis to have an equal number of good bacteria, as well as an equal number of bad bacteria in order to prevent infections that are opportunistic in nature from developing. Thus, when something that causes the removal of the normal flora, good bacteria from the gut, it allows that bad bacteria to really take over and start growing wildly, and out of control.
The next thing you know, you have an imbalance of good bacteria versus bad bacteria, with the bad bacteria in most prevalence.
Thus, probiotics, which are the live bacterial or live yeast cultures, represent the good bacteria that can be added to one’s diet when they in fact need the supplementation because the bad bacteria has had no competition and has thus had the opportunity to overgrow.
Probiotics can help regulate the gastrointestinal system, and has been shown to have incredible regulatory effects in patients who experience Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases include Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, which can be life threatening and debilitating diseases associated with diarrhea.
Probiotics are also beneficial in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which has been clinically identified as an irregular bowel in which patients experience periods of constipation and then experiences periods of diarrhea.
Probiotics provide that necessary balance that helps to provide regulatory relief where there is a balance between constipation and diarrhea resulting in regular and healthy bowel movements.
Now that we understand what Probiotics are and how they can benefit individuals with gastrointestinal disruptions, we can now look at what antibiotics are and how both of these can play important roles in one’s healthcare.
Probiotics Help With The Following:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea
- Prevents Opportunistic Infections
- Infectious Diarrhea
What Are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics were first developed in the late 1920’s, and to be even more specific the first antibiotic was developed in 1928, and it was penicillin. Penicillin was discovered by Dr. Alexander Fleming, and it was an accident.
Dr. Fleming was a young microbiologist who was interested in doing research with bacteria, and he was completing some research and came back to find mold growing on his research plates. Thus, at this moment he noticed that this mold was responsible for killing the bacteria staph, and thus prevented the growth of that staph on the agar plates. Dr. Fleming then realized that this was a way to kill the bacteria, and thus was termed as the first antibiotic.
Since then there have been many new classes of antibiotics identified. There are different types of antibiotics.
Some are considered bacteriostatic, and some antibiotics are considered bactericidal. Classes such as Azithromycin also known commonly to the public as the “Z-Pak”, is a class of antibiotics known as macrolides.
These types of antibiotic are known as bacteriostatic, which means that they do not kill the bacteria but rather stun the bacteria by preventing bacterial protein synthesis.
Another antibiotic, Ciprofloxacin which is commonly known as “Cipro”, is in the pharmacological class of Fluoroquinolone. Fluoroquinolone are a bacterial class that exhibit bactericidal actions.
This basically means that these antibiotics in this specific class work to inhibit the DNA replication of the specific bacteria in order to kill it.
These are just a couple of the antibiotic classes that have been developed since the first antibiotic. The reason why it is important to understand the different types of antibiotics is because of the function they have in fighting the specific bacteria present. Each of the antibiotics work in a different manner to help stop the bacteria from creating illnesses and infections.
Everyone knows that if their ear hurts and they think they may have an ear infection that they should go to the doctor and receive an antibiotic to clear up the infection. Everyone knows when their throat hurts, or they exhibit signs and symptoms or a respiratory infection they go to the doctor and receive antibiotics to resolve that specific infection. Thus, antibiotics are present in our everyday lives and this has created a problem with the overuse and misuse of such drugs.
First, it is important to know that antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections; and when your doctor says you have a viral infection, an antibiotic will do no use. Antibiotics have no functional power against viruses; they are used only to treat those bacterial illnesses and infections.
In the medical society it has become a very important, and a public health issue that physicians are over-prescribing antibiotic medications to patients who may or may not necessarily needs that method of treatment.
Over the past several years, many patients have gone into the physician’s office seeking treatment for illnesses that may not necessarily require the treatment of antibiotics. However, when they left the office they were instructed to take an antibiotic and finish the treatment effectively. The antibiotic over prescribing has become a growing issue for a couple of reasons.
The main reason it has become an issue is because it creates what is known as “superbugs.”
Bacteria are very smart and have the ability to evolve very quickly to survive. It can evolve in a way that it eludes the antibiotic’s ability to kill the bacteria. With these mechanisms in place, it creates bacteria that no longer is affected by the antibiotic and is termed a “superbug.”
Another issue with the recurrent administration of antibiotics is that it has an adverse effect on the individual’s gastrointestinal tract.
Because the goal of an antibiotic is to get rid of the bacteria, it does its function very well most of the time; or at least when the bacteria are still susceptible to the antibiotic and its function.
Antibiotics do not have the luxury of being able to tell which type is considered good bacteria and which bacteria are considered bad bacteria. The goal of the antibiotic is to remove all bacteria that is in the pathway. Thus, the antibiotics remove both good bacteria and bad bacteria. In doing so, the intestines become irritated.
As one of the side effects of taking antibiotics, it is understood that stomach irritation as well as diarrhea can be present in the patient.
Basically, what is happening is the good bacteria are knocked out along with the bad bacteria when an individual takes an antibiotic. This then creates an imbalance between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria. Once the imbalance has been created between the bacteria, then this leaves space in the gut which allows any other bacteria to overgrow resulting in opportunistic infections. One such opportunistic infection which can be associated with the overuse of antibiotics is Clostridium Difficile, also known as “C. Dif”.
- Dif is an opportunistic infection that represents the good bacteria that had the chance to overgrow because of recurrent antibiotics wiping out all the bacteria in the gut. This is a perfect and prime example, of when probiotics would be very beneficial to help prevent this opportunistic or other opportunistic infections from occurring.
Now that we know what probiotics are as well as the role of antibiotics in the body, let’s determine the correlation between the use of antibiotics and probiotics.
Antibiotics: Opposite of Probiotics
How Are Probiotics and Antibiotics Symbiotic?
Antibiotics kill bacteria, and thus does not determine between good and bad bacteria. The goal of an antibiotic is literally to remove the bacteria to get rid of the infection. The antibiotics do their job well, and in doing so, remove the good bacteria from the gut that allows the regulation of the gastrointestinal tract.
The symbiotic relationship of probiotics and antibiotics is that the antibiotics remove the bacteria both good and bad, and the probiotics are responsible for re-establishing the good bacteria in the intestinal tract.
The probiotics are the live bacterial or yeast cultures that are labeled as the good bacteria. By taking supplements of either Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, or another well-known probiotic, it can really help to re-establish the good bacteria in the intestinal tract so that opportunistic infections such as Clostridium Difficile do not develop.
These probiotics are essential to pair with antibiotic usage in order to make sure that the antibiotic does not have the opportunity to remove all the good bacteria from the intestines. Thus, as one can see probiotics are very beneficial in individuals who have recurrent infections and have to take a lot of antibiotics.
Probiotics offer the solution to prevent gastrointestinal disarray, and rather provides regularity, as well as a healthy balanced GI tract. As is evident, if an individual is taking antibiotics, they should definitely be supplementing their diet with probiotics of some sort whether it be through dairy products, or supplements.
With every individual, however, there are specific health conditions that could interfere with the function of probiotics or could even be contraindicated in those who have specific illnesses. Therefore, it is imperative to discuss any supplement addition with the individual’s physician and make sure that they are cleared and even encouraged to add probiotics to one’s diet.
Make sure your health is the main priority.
Recap: Antibiotics vs. Probiotics
- Antibiotics kill bacteria that cause infections
- Probiotics replenish the good bacteria of the gut
Probiotics are a great benefit to one’s health, and it has been proven in many instances that it helps to regulate one’s gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics have many uses, but one of the more important uses is that they are of great benefit when an individual is taking an antibiotic.
The perfect opportunity for a probiotic to perform its specific function is when an antibiotic has completely wiped the gastrointestinal tract of any good bacteria or bad bacteria. The probiotics then replenish the amount of good bacteria in the gut and thus allow continuous regulation of the gastrointestinal tract. Doing this, we can notice that the individual will experience less symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence.
One can also infer that the supplementation of probiotics can prevent the development of opportunistic infections that can sometimes be seen in individuals who have had recurrent treatment of infections with antibiotics. By supplementing probiotics in these instances, it can be noted that an individual who has taken many antibiotics can be safe from developing such opportunistic infections because of the lack of good bacteria in the gut.
With the addition of probiotics, it makes sure that the right amount of good bacteria is replenished and a new balance created between good bacteria and bad bacteria. It is evidentially true that probiotics and antibiotics have a relationship in that the probiotics help to prevent the imbalance of bacteria that can occur with the treatment of antibiotics.