Antibiotics Making You Sick? Foods to Eat and Avoid

If antibiotics are making you nauseated, eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones can help you feel better.

When you take antibiotics to kill the bacteria that are causing an infection, the drug has a "take no prisoners" effect on your body: It wipes out all bacteria, good and bad. Losing the "good" bacteria that normally keeps your digestive tract healthy can leave you with an upset stomach. Many people find that eating a cup or two of yogurt every day while taking antibiotics helps them feel better.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help strengthen your immune system and replenish the good bacteria in your gut when antibiotics throw your digestive system out of balance. Probiotics are the "live, active cultures" listed on yogurt containers. Cultured buttermilk and kefir, and fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, tempeh and fresh sauerkraut, all contain naturally occurring probiotics. Other products, such as some brands of cottage cheese, cereal and juice contain added probiotics that may help restore digestive health.

When you are nauseous, some foods are easier to tolerate than others and some foods should be avoided altogether. The basic diet to treat nausea is a bland, low-fiber diet that puts little or no stress on your digestive system. That means no spicy foods and no fried foods. It also means avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Soft foods are usually are most tolerable. For instance, try poached or soft-boiled eggs, oatmeal, cream of wheat or cream of rice cereal for breakfast or any time throughout the day.

Small amounts of starchy carbohydrates and lean protein are generally  much easier to digest than foods that are high in fat. Here are some specific "dos" and "don'ts" from Weill Cornell Medical College and the National Institutes of Health:

Do eat:
Clear, salty bouillon
Noodles or rice in clear soups with dry crackers
Starchy foods such as rice, pasta, and potatoes, in small portions
Lean chicken breast and fish, in small portions

Don't eat:
Creamy or milk-based soups, smoothies or shakes
Citrus fruits or juice
Very sugary drinks
Any type of fatty food

Be sure to drink plenty of water and other clear fluids, such as non-citrus juices (diluted with water, if necessary) and sports drinks, each day. Rather than eating three normal meals throughout the day, plan six to eight "mini meals," eaten more frequently but with much smaller portions. As you start to feel better gradually introduce more foods into your diet and resume your normal eating habits.



Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics

National Institutes of Health/MedlinePlus: Bland Diet

National Institutes of Health/MedlinePlus: When You Have Nausea and Vomiting

Ohio State University: What Are Probiotics and What Do They Do?

Weill Cornell Medical College: Diet and Lifeystyle