This post is timely for me: as I mentioned in my health check-in last week, I am fighting a nasty gut infection from infected tap water. When treating an H.pylori infection it is necessary to take two different antibiotics at the same time to ensure the eradication of the bad bacteria. Both of these antibiotics are strong and the ones I’ve been taking have caused insomnia, an inability to run due to joint concerns, and stomach problems.
With any antibiotic regimen, especially for women, it destroys bacteria indiscriminately. It is killing the H.pylori and all my beneficial bacteria with it. My gut biome that I’ve been trying to nurture these past 8 months or so is currently being destroyed because of these strong antibiotics.
Don’t get me wrong – I am a strong proponent of responsible antibiotic use. I am just mildly annoyed that I need to start over and be particularly mindful of my intake to help nurture a healthy gut biome again.
As a woman, antibiotics are particularly problematic because they also affect the vaginal biome balance. Women report higher levels of yeast infections during or after taking antibiotics because the pH balance gets out of whack. For men (and women), there is an increased chance of getting oral thrush, a form of yeast infection.
That is why it is important for people taking antibiotics find ways to replenish the good bacteria either during the antibiotic regimen or immediately afterward. Probiotics are a great way to get started and there are several ways to painlessly consume them.
What are Probiotics?
In short, they are healthy living bacteria that are meant to keep your gut healthy. They naturally occur in yogurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi, so inevitably at some point, you may have consumed them.
There are various ways to consume them, but before adding them to your diet, make sure to consult with a healthcare professional to be sure they are safe for your health. Certain medical conditions may make probiotic consumption unsafe for immune health so always take the necessary precautions.
My favorite way to increase my probiotic intake during this antibiotic regimen is to drink a bottle of Kombucha a day. Before I started my diet shift I was always wary and slightly grossed out by the stuff, but I’ve since converted to the dark side.
Let me be upfront: this is in no way a sponsored post. I am going to be talking a lot about my favorite brand of Kombucha, GT’s, because I love it that much. This particular brand may not be for you, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other brands that are just as delicious.
Fermentation, mothers, and…tea?
When I first read about kombucha and the process that goes into creating it, I was completely grossed out by it.
Quite simply: Kombucha is the process of fermenting green or black tea with the use of sugar and an active starter culture known as a mother, or SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast).
Before I dropped sugar it smelled and tasted vinegary and tart. I love tart food, I would eat Warheads by the handful as a child until my mouth bled. But this is a different type of tart that was offputting by the knowledge of what was making it tart. Fermentation and live bacteria.
I gave it a try because health food fads and moved on with my life.
Back when I was researching beneficial gut bacteria, I decided to give Kombucha another shot. Different SCOBYs mean different bacterias, but overall it would be used to replenish my using healthy specimens and it has anti-inflammatory properties, so that was a definite plus.
But because sugar is used in the fermentation process and I was avoiding sugar, I wanted to find a brand of Kombucha that used fruit juice as a sugar substitute. Enter GT’s. They use Kiwi juice as a means to feed the SCOBY and fruit sweeteners were okay with my diet shift. I was also allured by their various flavors and am currently obsessed with their “Lavender Love” bottle.
If you are feeling particularly industrious, you can always brew some at home, though that is one bridge I have yet to cross. I am too nervous at all that could go wrong (fermentation can be tricky and dangerous if done improperly) and it seems like it would be time-consuming. Maybe once Jai is older I can give it a shot.
In the last section, I mentioned the vinegary nature of the drink which is not a resounding endorsement. I believe because I had been off sugar for about a month when I tried it again, I noticed how sweet it was and the additional flavors helped offset any weird vinegar taste.
I started with a ginger variety and worked through the flavors that seemed appealing. When I was trying to boost my immune system for cold & flu season, I drank a turmeric flavor. Upset stomach? Back to ginger. I settled on a blueberry, raspberry mixture as a mainstay, but am really into lavender right now because it’s relaxing despite the green tea.
It is perfect if you’ve recently cut down your sugar intake or stopped drinking sodas. As someone who loved Sweet Tea in the summer, I have found Kombucha is a nice stand-in when I want that tea flavor but without the sugar.
Kombucha is also a low-calorie drink. The bottles I use have two servings and the entire bottle is about 40 calories total. I feel like I can drink it guilt-free because it’s healthy and not messing with my daily caloric intake.
Is it for Me?
I will be completely honest, Kombucha isn’t for everyone, especially on the first try. It’s one of those drinks that sneaks up on you after a couple of attempts. So don’t get discouraged if you can’t get around the initial flavor and don’t give up on it. You may find a second tasting works for you and if not, at least you gave it a shot which is awesome.
Additionally, as with any form of fermentation, there is a small amount of alcohol in each batch. Not enough to get a buzz unless you have an empty stomach, but can be a concern if you are avoiding alcohol or are pregnant and breastfeeding. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak with your healthcare professional if it is okay to drink Kombucha before consumption.
If you are like me and looking for a way to replenish your gut biome after an antibiotic regimen or just feed the healthy bacteria you have in there now, Kombucha is a delicious way to consume probiotics. I recommend starting with GT’s but if someone has recommended another brand, definitely give it a shot.
Here’s to healthy and happy guts.
What is your experience with Kombucha? Do you enjoy it or have you nixed the idea altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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