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Why You Shouldn’t Eat These Foods While Taking Antibiotics

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Cold and flu season is here, and you might be one of many people tempted to contact your doctor for a course of antibiotics. While these medications offer no help against viral strains, they can help you recover if you contract a bacterial infection like strep throat.

However, your doctor might not review the best way to take these medications. Many prescription bottles tell you to take antibiotics before or after food to avoid nasty side effects like nausea. They fall short of telling you what to eat. 

How should you modify your diet when taking a course? Here’s why you shouldn’t eat these foods while taking antibiotics and how to rebuild your body after you finish your prescription. Following these guidelines will help you get better faster.

How Antibiotics Affect Your Body

You should know how antibiotics affect your body to avoid simple mistakes that prolong your illness. For example, you might know that taking zinc at the first sign of sickness can shorten a cold’s duration, but doing so with antibiotics can impact the drug’s effectiveness. Therefore, you should avoid the supplement while nursing strep throat. 

Antibiotics work by killing harmful germs that cause illness. However, they can also affect levels of the healthy bacteria that colonize your gut. Since you take them by mouth, the foods you consume with them affect how much of the medicine your body absorbs and uses. 

You should take your medication as prescribed, finishing your entire course and avoiding the need for retreatment. Although antibiotics kill most of the harmful bacteria, some of them inevitably survive. These surviving bugs can reproduce, creating resistant strains that today’s medicines can’t touch. 

Frighteningly, antibiotic resistance may be on the rise, fueled partly by telemedicine. A recent study showed online physicians are two times more likely to prescribe antibiotics, despite being unable to take a swab to test for strep. 

These physicians may mean well, ceding to a parent’s insistence that her little one needs medicine. However, they could do more harm than good. You can help prevent the overprescription of antibiotics by insisting on a rapid strep test and accurately reporting the results to the attending doctor.

4 Foods to Avoid While Taking Antibiotics 

Your pill bottle reads, “take with food.” What shouldn’t you eat while taking antibiotics, though? Here’s a short list of items to avoid.. 

1. Highly Acidic Foods

Don’t wash down your antibiotic with your morning orange juice. Your stomach needs acid to digest, but highly acidic foods can tip the balance, decreasing the amount of medicine your body absorbs. Pass on the following while taking your prescription:

  • Meat
  • Soft drinks 
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato products
  • Processed foods

2. Dairy and Calcium-fortified Foods

Antibiotics can bind to the calcium in dairy foods and those fortified with the mineral, leaving less for your body to use to fight germs. Avoid the following while on antibiotics:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Dairy-based yogurt 
  • Ice cream

3. Fortified Cereals and Other Foods

It may seem natural to take your antibiotic with breakfast. However, fortified foods like cereal contain high levels of certain vitamins and minerals that can interfere with antibiotic absorption. 

4. Multivitamins and Antacids

Many minerals can interfere with antibiotic absorption. In general, you should avoid taking your medication with supplements. In particular, watch out for the following:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron

3 Foods to Eat While Taking Antibiotics

Remember, antibiotics also attack healthy bacteria, like the ones in your gut that you need to digest. Rebuild your system after you finish your course by indulging in the following foods. 

1. Probiotics

Probiotics refer to healthy bacteria that can help you replenish your intestinal colonies. You can find them in the following foods:

  • Yogurt 
  • Sauerkraut and other fermented foods
  • Kefir
  • Miso 
  • Kombucha

2. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables 

Fresh fruits and vegetables help rebuild your body in two ways. They’re rich sources of several micronutrients and illness can tap your reserves. 

Furthermore, fresh fruits and vegetables are rich sources of prebiotic fiber. This is the roughage your body doesn’t digest but nourishes your intestinal microbiome — those healthy bacterial colonies you need for optimal health. 

3. Nonalcoholic Beverages

Alcohol won’t directly interfere with antibiotic use, but it can make it more challenging to remember to take your medication on time. Additionally, it alters your microbiome composition, making it tougher for healthy bacteria to regrow and flourish. 

Avoid These Foods When Taking Antibiotics 

Antibiotics can help you recover more quickly from bacterial illnesses. However, they can also do a number on the healthy bacteria in your gut. Furthermore, certain foods can interfere with their absorption, leading you to take a longer course and fostering resistance. 

Avoid these foods when taking antibiotics. When you finish your course, rebuild your healthy microbiome by nourishing it with pre- and probiotic-rich foods, and you’ll feel like your old self in no time.

Writer Bio

<strong>Why You Shouldn’t Eat These Foods While Taking Antibiotics</strong> | Cook & Hook

Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.

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