Years ago when I was Editor at Cleo magazine, I used to get sick a LOT. Part of that was the stress of the job and working such long hours but mostly it was my use of antibiotics that completely upset my gut flora and sent me on a rollercoaster of getting really sick, regularly.
It started with a bout of tonsilitis, which you have to take antibiotics to get rid of. Coupled with a high sugar diet (ever worked in an office full of women?), and then a glass or two of wine at work functions most nights, I got into a repetitive cycle that went something like this:
1. Get tonsilitis
2. Take antibiotics to get better
3. Never replenish the good bacteria that antibiotics kill
4. Get tonsilitis again
5. Take antibiotics to get better
6. Never replenish good bacteria that antibiotics kill
7. Get tonsilitis again
Over and over. For a good few years.
Finally after leaving that job I went to see a naturopath who put me on a strict no-sugar diet and filled my gut with pre and probiotics so I could build up my good bacteria again. It took about six months and I literally have not had tonsilitis since and have only had antibiotics once after a dental procedure. I avoid them unless they are absolutely necessary.
It's the power of balancing your gut
An imbalance in your gut flora may be giving you symptoms completely unrelated to your stomach like cold sores, getting colds often, skin breakouts, yeast infections, stomach pains and other things that may indicate lower immunity.
Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria getting you sick, yes, but they also kill the good bacteria we need to stay healthy. If you don't replenish the good bacteria after a round of antibiotics, your gut will remain imbalanced.
How to support your gut and up your immunity
1. Increase your intake of pre and probiotics
Take a good probiotic daily and eat food loaded with good bacteria like fermented veg, kefir and yoghurt.
Prebiotics are found in foods like garlic, onions, apples, barley, asparagus, dandelion greens and oats.
2. Ditch sugar and processed food for a while
This is super hard, but taking extra sugar out of your diet like biscuits, cakes, icecream, lollies and anything in a packet really, and replacing with fruit, veg and wholefoods will immediately give you more pre and probiotics in your diet. Sugar causes inflammation in the body and lowers the good bacteria in your gut.
3. Lower stress levels and drink lots of water
Easier said than done at the moment, but exercise can help lower the cortisol in your body which causes stress, so try and go for a walk a few times a week at the very least. Studies have also shown that exercise can alter your gut microbiome for the better.
Drinking loads of water has been shown to have a good effect on the lining of the gut and helps balance your microbiome.
These are really simple steps that make long term difference to your health and lift your immunity.