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Antibiotic use and gut motility

The gut microbiome has been attracting much attention over the last few years. With good reason as more evidence is reflecting on how the balance of beneficial and detrimental strains of bacteria impacts our health.

One of the common questions that I get asked in clinic is about the use of antibiotics. Is this a good thing to do or not. Antibiotic therapy alters several aspects of brain-gut-axis signalling and until now, the reason was believed to be mainly due to changes in intestinal microbiota.

The more profound impact of antibiotics appears to be on the Vagus nerve (one of the main components of the para-sympathetic nervous system) impacting on the way that the brain and gut communicate. What this means is that the body during and after antibiotic therapy, loses some of the sensitivity of the communicate information about the motility of the bowel.

With a change in bowel transit time this means that there is more likelihood of illness presenting over time. Think about Goldilocks when it comes to how fast we want our bowel transit to be, not too fast (diarrhea) but not too slow (constipation). We need the balance in order to maintain proper digestive function and optimise assimilation of nutrition from the food we eat.

The great news is that the gut can be restored after the use of antibiotics, and the line back to a healthy gut is multifactorial so please consult your health care practitioner as to the best ways to do this.

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