Diet affects the effects of antibiotics

Diet affects the effects of antibiotics

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The effects of antibiotics can be influenced by the diet

Antibiotics change the type of bacteria in the intestine and affect the metabolism of the bacteria. A high-sugar diet can make these changes even worse.

Brown University's latest research found that a high-sugar diet can increase the negative effects of antibiotics on the bacteria in our gut. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Cell Metabolism".

How can the microbiome be protected?

Antibiotics are often used to treat harmful bacterial infections, but this affects the microbiome in the human gut. In the current study, the researchers investigated ways to minimize this side effect, which can lead to Clostridium difficile infections and other threatening changes in the microbiome, for example. They found that antibiotics change the composition and metabolism of the gut microbiome in mice and that eating a mouse can mitigate or exacerbate these changes.

The results are a step towards better tolerability of antibiotic treatment for humans, reports the research group. It turned out that every antibiotic has the potential to cause some very harmful health effects related to the microbiome. That's why the researchers are looking for new ways to protect the microbiome that can alleviate some of the worst side effects of antibiotics.

What are the tasks of the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria. This community helps the host in many ways, such as fiber breakdown and maintaining overall gut health by ensuring that intestinal cells form a tight barrier and compete for resources with harmful bacteria, the researchers report.

Three different antibiotics were examined

For the study, three groups of mice were treated with different antibiotics. It was then monitored how the composition of the bacteria in the intestine of the mice changed and how the bacteria adjusted at the metabolic level after antibiotic treatment. The following were examined: amoxicillin, which is usually used to treat ear infections and sore throats. Ciprofloxacin, which is used to treat urinary tract infections and typhoid, and doxycycline, which is often used in the treatment of Lyme and sinus infections. It turned out that amoxicillin in particular influenced the bacteria present in the intestine and drastically changed the genes of the remaining bacteria. The changes associated with ciprofloxacin and doxycycline were less pronounced.

What changes did treatment with amoxicillin bring?

By using amoxicillin, potentially beneficial bacteria of the genus Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron literally blossomed in the human gut. After the treatment, these bacteria increasingly used enzymes that digest fiber. This change appears to enable the bacterium to thrive in the changed ecosystem and to somehow protect it from the antibiotic, the researchers report. In general, the bacteria reduced the use of genes involved in normal growth, such as the production of new proteins and DNA. At the same time, the use of genes has increased, which are of crucial importance for stress resistance. However, adding glucose to the mouse diet increased the sensitivity of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron to amoxicillin, so that the bacteria were also affected by antibiotic treatment. This suggests that the diet can protect some beneficial gut bacteria from the effects of antibiotics.

More research is needed

The study was only carried out on rodents and there is still a lot to learn about the interplay between diet, microbiome metabolism and susceptibility to various antibiotics, which makes further research necessary. Now that it is clear that nutrition is important for bacterial susceptibility to antibiotics, it should be examined which nutrients have an effect and whether the influence of different forms of nutrition can be predicted. The researchers are now trying to find out how different types of fiber affect the change in the microbiome after antibiotic treatment and how diabetes affects the metabolic environment and the sensitivity of the microbiome to antibiotics. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Damien J. Cabral, Swathi Penumutchu, Elizabeth M. Reinhart, Cheng Zhang, Benjamin J. Korry et al .: Microbial Metabolism Modulates Antibiotic Susceptibility within the Murine Gut Microbiome, in Cell Metabolism (query: 16.09.2019), Cell Metabolism

Video: You MUST Be Eating These Foods When Taking Antibiotics (October 2022).