By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
May 4, 2018
- Antibiotics aren’t the only meds wrecking your health
- 3 drugs that destroy your gut microbiome
- Quickly replenish the healthy microflora in your digestive tract
If you’re like most people, you take the health of your gut for granted. The last thing on your mind is how the foods you eat or the medications you take might affect your digestive tract.
But as strange as it might seem, your gut should be a major focus in your life.
You see, a healthy gut microbiome is your first line of defense against infection, disease and illness.
When the beneficial bugs in your digestive system flourish, good things happen. They aid in weight loss, boost your mood and help your body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. When they are in short supply, just the opposite happens.
This makes antibiotics one of your worst enemies. These drugs not only kill harmful bacteria… they also wipe out strains of beneficial bacteria that are absolutely necessary for good health.
But antibiotics aren’t the only medications that are disturbing your gut microbiome.
3 Non-Antibiotic Drugs Wrecking Your Gut
People who take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid tend to have a decidedly unhealthy gut microbiome. These common meds literally destroy microbial diversity.
In fact, regular use of them just about doubles your risk of developing c. difficile. This is a potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant diarrheal infection. And it’s nothing to be trifled with.
Here in the U.S. it affects about a half million people a year. It’s extremely hard to treat. And some people die from it. Even c. diff. is treated successfully, it often recurs. This is especially true among patients who continue to take PPIs.
PPIs are also linked to the development of chronic kidney disease, stomach cancer, dementia, osteoporosis and an increased chance of heart attack.
There are many safer ways to solve your digestive issues than taking heartburn meds that destroy your health and disturb the beneficial microbes that keep you healthy.
NSAID pain relievers are another common medication that I warn my patients against. Among other things, they can double your risk of experiencing some type of coronary event. This deadly side effect could be the result of the way NSAIDs interact with your gut microbiota.
You see, certain alterations in the gut microbiome are known to promote cardiovascular disease. And NSAID pain relievers appear to have a greater influence on this all-important microbial community than many other types of medication.
This is a link that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s also one of many reasons I always recommend natural alternatives for pain management.
The diabetes drug metformin is another problem. While originally heralded as having a positive effect on gut microbiota, it has the potential for harm too.
In fact, metformin use alters the microbiome in a way that is very consistent with some of the well-known side effects of the drug. This includes digestive issues like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and bloating.
Just as importantly, what happens in your gut may actually contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. And a lot of it has to do with the foods you are eating… or not eating. You can learn more about “diabetic gut” here.
Others medications that may interfere with your gut microbiota include laxatives, antihistamines, statins, IBD meds, antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
In fact, as recent as last month Dr. Lisa Maier and her colleagues at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg found that non-antibiotic drugs (like PPIs, antihistamines and pain killers) actually promoted antibiotic resistance in gut microbes.
Replenish the Healthy Microflora in Your Digestive Tract
I always recommend working with your doctor to seek natural treatments and lifestyle changes to protect against disease and illness. If he or she won’t work with you, find someone who will.
In the meantime, the fastest way to replenish healthy gut bacteria is eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. These plant-based foods are associated with a highly diverse microbiota.
Eating more probiotic foods can also help your gut microbes flourish. This means getting more fermented foods in your diet, like kombucha, miso, natto, kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut.
If you feel you need a little extra help, I have two additional recommendations.
First, supplement with a digestive enzyme about 30 minutes before meals. You’ll want to choose a formula that contains a good mix of enzymes, including…
•Amylase for carbohydrate digestion
• Protease to help digest proteins
• Lipase for the digestion of fats
• Maltase to convert complex sugars in grain foods to glucose
• Cellulase to break down fibers
• Sucrase to help digest sugars
Second, add a probiotic to your daily regimen. Look for a formula that contains a prebiotic along with lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and multiple other strains of healthy bacteria.The higher the colony count, and the more live strains involved, the better off you’ll be. Just make sure to take it daily with food.
Imhann F, et al. Proton pump inhibitors affect the gut microbiome. Gut. 2016 May;65(5):740-8.
Trifan A, et al. Proton pump inhibitors therapy and risk of Clostridium difficile infection: Systematic review and meta-analysis. World J Gastroenterol. 2017 Sep 21; 23(35): 6500–6515.
McDonald EG, et al. Continuous Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy and the Associated Risk of Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):784-91.
Rogers MAM, et al. The influence of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on the gut microbiome. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2016 Feb;22(2):178.e1-178.e9.
Forslund K, et al. Disentangling type 2 diabetes and metformin treatment signatures in the human gut microbiota. Nature. 2015 Dec 10;528(7581):262-266.
Maier L, Pruteanu M, Kuhn M, Zeller G, Telzerow A, Anderson EE, Brochado AR, Fernandez KC, Dose H, Mori H, Patil KR, Bork P, Typas A. (2018)
Extensive impact of non-antibiotic drugs on human gut bacteria.
Nature doi: 10.1038/nature25979