Do I Need To Take Probiotics with Antibiotics?

Do I Need To Take Probiotics with Antibiotics?

  • Gut Health

  • By Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

    You get sick. You see the doctor. You get a prescription for antibiotics. Then you’re all fixed up, right?

    Not necessarily.

    You see, antibiotics work by killing bacteria – but they don’t discriminate between friend and foe. As antibiotics do their work, they eliminate beneficial bacteria along with the pathogenic (infectious) ones, which can leave you at risk.


    Good Gut Bacteria

    The trillions of bacteria in your gut are, in essence, one of your natural antibiotic defenses. Beneficial bacteria help to fight off pathogenic bugs in the gut in a few ways. They produce short-chain fatty acids that lower the pH of the gut, making it less hospitable to bad bugs. Beneficial bacteria also produce natural antimicrobials like bacteriocins and hydrogen peroxide that help kill off any potentially harmful germs, making it difficult for them to multiply.

    Your gut bacteria are also critical for maintaining a balanced immune response.1 If their numbers are diminished, you could experience shifts in bacteria - known as dysbiosis – that leaves you susceptible to future infection, altered immunity, digestive concerns or even insulin resistance and weight gain.1-3


    Antibiotics Side Effects

    When you take antibiotics to restore health, you’re only doing half the job. A single course of antibiotics can lower both the diversity and overall numbers of your community of beneficial bacteria, rendering them less effective at doing their job, and opening the door for opportunistic pathogens like E.coli and C.diff to begin an infectious path. This is why antibiotic users in Canada have a one in three chance of experiencing antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD), which can start as late as two months after you finish your prescription.


    Take Probiotics with Antibiotics

    Convinced of antibiotic’s adverse effects on your gut, you may say to yourself, ‘I’ll start taking Bio-K+ as soon as I finish my medication.’ Except…

    Once the antibiotics have done their work, it may already be too late.

    The best time to start taking a probiotic pill is the same day you start your prescription. Why? Because the risks associated with antibiotic use are due to diminished numbers of beneficial bacteria – so prevention is the name of the game.

    How does this approach work? If an antibiotic kills bacteria, it seems logical that it will kill the probiotic bacteria too. The trick is in the timing: when taking antibiotics, take 1-2 capsules of Bio-K+ STRONG/ANTIBIOFIX (50 Billion CFU) 2 hours after any one of your daily antibiotic doses. This allows time for the antibiotic to move through the gut before you introduce the probiotic. It’s like sending in tree planters behind the logging brigade.

    Take Bio-K+ every day that you take your antibiotic, plus five days after to help provide a buffer against future infection. Research shows taking Bio-K+ this way reduces the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by a whopping 65% and risk of infectious diarrhea due to Clostridium difficile (CDAD) by 95%. The strength of the clinical research behind Bio-K+ has made it the only probiotic product in Canada approved by Health Canada for the prevention of both AAD and CDAD.

    How can such tiny critters accomplish such a huge task? By acting in three very specific ways:

    • Acting as a barrier against pathogenic bacteria in the gut
    • Preventing or improving symptoms such as gas and bloating caused by pathogenic bacteria
    • Supporting the growth of your natural flora to help it rebound from antibiotic use

    After your antibiotic therapy, you can reduce your dose of Bio-K+ to a LIGHT (12.5 Billion CFU) capsule, or a ¼ bottle of drinkable Bio-K+ in prevention and to maintain good digestive health on a daily basis. It’s a great way to enjoy probiotic support in a way that fits your lifestyle.


    Make no mistake: antibiotics save lives. But it’s up to us to use them responsibly. Only take antibiotics when your physician is certain that your illness is bacterial and use up the entire prescription, even if you feel better. Use Bio-K+ as your ally in maintaining good digestive health as you recover. It’s how you fight back with bac.


    If you have additional questions on how antibiotics can impact your gut health, let us know in comments below! For more healthy inspirations, join our community. To stock up on Bio-K+find a store near youContact us or find us on Facebook and Instagram.



    1. Peterson, C. T., et al. "Immune homeostasis, dysbiosis and therapeutic modulation of the gut microbiota." Clinical & Experimental Immunology3 (2015): 363-377.
    2. Han, Jun-Ling, and Hui-Ling Lin. "Intestinal microbiota and type 2 diabetes: from mechanism insights to therapeutic perspective." World journal of gastroenterology: WJG47 (2014): 17737.
    3. Principi, Nicola, and Susanna Esposito. "Antibiotic administration and the development of obesity in children." International journal of antimicrobial agents3 (2016): 171-177.


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    Desiree Nielsen Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vvegetarian ccooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
    View all articles by Desiree Nielsen
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