The Downside of Medications on the Gut

The Gut- a critical player in health, brain function, well-being and performance.
“All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates
Currently, 4 out of 5 Americans take antibiotics every year, many of whom are not aware of the short and long-term deleterious effects antibiotics can have on their health. In fact, 30% of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary and 50% may be prescribed inappropriately. What makes these statistics so profound?
Gut Microbiota
The gut microbiota is a dynamic population of microorganisms that are essential to optimal health. These microbes are responsible for an array of physiological activities effecting nutritional status, metabolism, immune regulation, mood, blood sugar, vitamin synthesis as well as digestion. In normal situations and healthy individuals, the gut microbial interactions maintain a state of equilibrium in the intestinal tract, however, the microbial interactions can become disrupted or unbalanced due to antibiotic use, toxic chemicals, infections and dietary changes leading to gut dysbiosis.
Gut Dysbiosis
As a diverse and stable population of microorganisms, when there is a disruption in microbial composition a multitude of issues can occur. For instance, gut dysbiosis has been found to be associated with diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, mellites, cardiovascular, and inflammatory bowel disease as well as brain pathologies like autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This state of dysbiosis can cause irreversible changes in the intestinal microbiota with variations and damage to genes or protein which can lead to intestinal epithelial cell harm. Epithelial cell health is important because they help absorb substances and provide a barrier against harmful elements (clearly not something you should damage).
Antibiotic Use
Antibiotic use is commonly prescribed to kill specific microorganisms. However, antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad gut bacteria and can cause imbalanced gut microbiota that can last months or years after treatment ceases. Antibiotic dosages can decrease the naturally occurring intestinal microbiota and increases the number of yeasts like candida albicans. Research has shown that antibiotic treatment can induce gut dysbiosis via decreasing the diversity of the microbiota in the gut. As mentioned entering a state of gut dysbiosis is something to be avoided.
Lastly, given the shocking statistics on antibiotic usage in the U.S it is important to educate yourself on proper gut health protocols and think critically whether you need to take antibiotics. If antibiotic usage is a must, take necessary action to mitigate the negative health effects that can accompany treatments!

References
  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/programs-measurement/measuring-antibiotic-prescribing.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0503-unnecessary-prescriptions.html
  • https://healthresearchfunding.org/11-scary-statistics-on-antibiotic-resistance/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5725362/
  • Westfall, Susan & Lomis, Nikita & Kahouli, Imen & Yuan Dia, Si & Singh, Surya & Prakash, Satya. (2017). Microbiome, probiotics and neurodegenerative diseases: deciphering the gut brain axis. Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS. 74. 10.1007/s00018-017-2550-9.
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0197018618301980?via%3Dihub
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05336-9
The Downside of Medications on the Gut

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