So despite your greatest effects, you’ve found yourself sick.  Maybe you’ve got strep throat or that sinus infection that just won’t quick.  In order to blast out those crappy germs, your family doctor has prescribed you an antibiotic.   Now what, all better?  Not all the time.   There are two rules of thumb to remember when taking any antibiotic.  The first is to make sure you take the whole course, meaning finish the bottle, even if you are feeling better.  Bacteria has been around for a lot longer than us and they are stronger than we’d wish.  If you stop taking your medicine before they are completely eradicated, they can grow into stronger strains that will be resistant to antibiotics.  Eek!

What’s the second rule?  Take a probiotic.

What are probiotics?  germsMost of us have heard the word.  In simplest terms, probiotics refer to the good bacteria that reside in our bowels and work to maintain an healthy environment there.  When we take antibiotics, the bad bacteria that make us sick are destroyed, but the good bacteria are killed as well.  Without these friendly micro-organisms, we can easily develop digestive tract issues such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.  It is also common to develop candida (yeast), especially in the female genital tract.

The best way to replenish our body’s natural bacterial balance is with probiotics.  While probiotics are found naturally in cultured and fermented foods like yogurt, miso and tempeh, these foods do not contain enough bacteria to effectively balance the flora.  Health care professionals recommend an intake of a minimum of 15 billion live bacteria daily, especially after an illness.  And don’t fall into the trap set by food manufacturers promising health promoting products.  Check out yesterday’s NY Times article to read about faulty claims.

The best way to go about supplementing is to consult with your health care provider.  They may carry a product line that’s right for you or know the right place for you to get them, and always follow their instructions.  While self-diagnosis seems easy enough, it’s best for your health if you get the facts and do it right the first time.