This week antibiotics hit the headlines after it was revealed that people unnecessarily taking antibiotics could within 30 years kill more than cancer and diabetes combined.
People taking them for coughs, earache and sore throats, that could get better on their own, is being blamed for growing antibiotic resistance.
However, for people suffering from conditions like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, taking antibiotics is still very important – and is even life-saving.
They work by destroying the body’s bad bacteria, but this can mean some of the good bacteria is destroyed too.
This can cause unpleasant side-effects such as diarrhoea and thrush.
It is estimated that these antibiotic-associated issues can put people off taking them, and it is estimated one in five people stopped their course prematurely.
Finishing a course of antibiotics is crucial because if bad bacteria is not completely eliminated it has the chance to become immune to the antibiotic, leading to antibiotic resistance.
However, research has shown that taking probiotics whilst on antibiotics can help reduce these unpleasant side-effects, and mean finishing a course is more achievable.
Certain strains of bacteria – L rhamnosus-I I and L acidophilus Rosell-52 – are able to survive antibiotics and reach the gut alive.
A recent survey, coordinated by OptiBac Probiotics, found that 46 per cent of people had taken antibiotics in the last 24 months.
They also discovered that 70 per cent of them were not taking any probiotics during or following their course.
As well as helping reduce unpleasant side-effects, probiotics have been found to help boost the immune system.
This is because 70 to 80 per cent of the immune system is based in the gut.
The gut microflora is known to interact with support immune tissue.
Additionally probiotics help with digestive issues, and can be particularly helpful for those with irritable bowel syndrome.
As well as supplements, probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.