By Anna Lazowski, CBC News Posted: Dec 11, 2013
A Canadian-trained pediatrician says all doctors should be prescribing probiotics alongside antibiotics.
Dr. Bill Sears has been a pediatrician in private practice for 42 years and did most of his medical training at the University of Toronto. He’s also the father of eight kids, has written 42 books, and runs a popular website full of tips for parents. He says probiotics are a valuable asset to his medical practice.
“I particularly prescribe them when I prescribe an antibiotic because antibiotics kill the germs, say, of an ear infection or throat infection, but they also kill the good bacteria in the gut,” he explains. “So probiotics help to replenish the good bacteria.”
Dr. Sears feels so strongly about the role of probiotics, he says all doctors should be prescribing them alongside antibiotics.
“Probiotics should absolutely, positively, 100 per cent be taken when you take an antibiotic. And I think all doctors will agree,” he says.
Dr. Sears typically suggests probiotics be taken during the course of antibiotics and then a week or so after to replenish that good bacteria in the system. With trillions of bacteria living in our gut, Dr. Sears says they help the body produce natural medicines and give the immune system a boost.
He also recommends people with gut pain or intestinal problems like colitis or irritable bowel add natural bacteria into the diet to improve intestinal health.
But he’ll be the first to tell you, he doesn’t jump on the bandwagon every time a new health product hits the shelves.
“Anytime you take a nutritional supplement you ask two questions: Is there science supporting that it gets into the blood and does good things for the body? And does it make good sense? And probiotics fulfill both of those.”
Probiotics are commonly sold in powders, capsules and tablets but can also be supplemented by including fermented foods in the diet. Some options include: yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, fermented soy foods like miso or tempeh, kombucha, sourdough bread or naturally fermented pickles.
A recently published study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has also indicated colorectal cancer may be linked to an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut.