How Your Daily Diet Affects Your Antibiotics

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Taking antibiotics can successfully protect you against bacterial infections – and it’s often an important part of maintaining your health. But where regular use of antibiotics was once thought to be enough to protect you, new research suggests that poor dietary habits can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics. Fortunately, research also reveals that consuming soluble fiber as part of a balanced diet helps support your body’s absorption of antibiotics.

Dive into research

One of the main reasons your body doesn’t absorb antibiotics properly is antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It happens when the bacteria, viruses, and fungi in your system are able to defeat the drugs designed to destroy them. The CDC reports that more than 2.8 million AMR infections occur in the United States each year.

A recent observational study published in the journal MBIoh examined how a regular diet might impact antibiotic resistance genes in gut bacteria.

The researchers asked 290 healthy adults (aged 18 to 66) to complete food questionnaires about their usual diet. Using blood, urine and stool samples, they also measured the gut microbiota — the collection of all bacteria, viruses, fungi and genes in the body.

The results

The authors found that a diet high in soluble fiber and low in protein was associated with decreased levels of antimicrobial resistance genes in gut microbes.

Regular consumption of soluble fiber was central to these results, rather than protein. This is because this type of fiber dissolves in water and helps increase the number of healthy bacteria in the gut.

In A declarationLead author and research molecular biologist Danielle Lemay put these findings into perspective.

“The results lead directly to the idea that dietary modification has the potential to be a new weapon in the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” she explains. “This suggests we might want to eat from a variety of food sources that tend to be higher in soluble fiber for maximum benefit.”

What this means for you

Increasing your daily intake of soluble fiber is an ideal way to improve your gut health, which can ultimately help you avoid AMR. The USDA recommends consuming 28 grams of dietary fiber each day for a 2,000 calorie daily diet.

Great sources of soluble fiber include oats, legumes, apples, carrots and citrus fruits. Whether you’re making oatmeal for breakfast or lentils for lunch or dinner, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of this type of fiber.

Along with changing your diet, be sure to talk to your doctor for more information on antimicrobial resistance and to make sure your antibiotics are as effective as possible.

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