When you have a raging sore throat or an infected cut, you
are grateful for antibiotics. Your stomach might disagree, though.
Antibiotics are one of the major reasons why the bacterial colonies in our gut become less diverse over the years. Aging and your diet also play a part. But when it comes to your gut, fewer bacteria are not always better.
Unfortunately, the broad-spectrum antibiotics like amoxicillin and tetracycline don’t kill off the bad germs and skip over the good ones.
The collection of bacteria in your digestive tract, lungs, and bladder is called a microbiome. The average person’s microbiome contains 900 to 1,000 species of microorganisms, most of them are bacteria.
This mix is quite individualistic. The National Institute of Health has discovered that about 160 bacteria are found in most people’s guts, but the amounts vary from person to person. Other bacteria are not so universal.
What matters to your health is a rich diversity and a good balance because some of those naturally occurring ones are inoffensive in small numbers and capable of making you sick in large ones. The problem with antibiotics is that killing too many good bacteria allows harmful ones to multiply.
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