Last week I started taking antibiotics to treat my stupid illness. Since then, I’ve been craving dairy products like crazy. Yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta… I can’t get enough. But why?
The always wise Evita of Evolving Wellness clued me in to what I now see is kind of obvious: antibiotics kill the good bacteria in our intestines, and the easiest way to replenish those “probiotics” is through dairy, especially yogurt.
Isn’t it amazing how cravings work to give the body what it needs? But what’s more amazing is how microbial flora work to keep our immune system healthy. For anyone else who likes to get down and dirty with their internal organs, the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases has a whole article on the role of human microflora in health and disease
The human host and its microbial flora constitute a complex ecosystem whose equilibrium serves as a remarkable example of reciprocal adaptation. Intestinal bacteria play an important role in the development of the immune system. The normal intestinal flora is responsible for resistance to colonization by exogenous pathogenic microorganisms. Nevertheless, it also constitutes a reservoir of potentially pathogenic bacteria in close contact with the host. These bacteria are responsible for opportunistic infections in immunocompromised hosts. The equilibrium of the flora can be upset by antibiotics, leading to infections as a result of proliferation of antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria.
My flora’s equilibrium has DEFINITELY been compromised. So let’s see if I’ve restored the balance.
Diary for Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Weetabix with Fresh Fruit and Semi-Skimmed Milk
Would you believe I haven’t been in the mood for Bircher muesli? I think it’s the nuts. I’m still on soft food and while I generally do not like cereal, Wheetabix does offer a satisfying mush factor. Still, this kind of processed, “fortified” food goes against everything I stand for. Amazing how standards go out the door in the face of illness.
Another note: drinking large amounts of milk in the morning makes me feel nauseous. Yet another reason to get back to the Bircher asap.
Fresh bread with hummus and salad
Not much to feed my flora in this meal, but I did have fresh bread. Gotta love the no knead. The veggies were hard to get through. I’ve been having a hard time with raw veg. I had to slather them with lots of hummus and olive oil just to get get them down the hatch. The red peppers were especially trying. Strange how “sweet” foods like balsamic vinegar, red peppers, and tomatoes, are somewhat off putting. They taste so SHARP on my tongue. But I know I need to eat my veggies. And dammit, I LIVE for veggies. This taste bud weirdness is a total drag!
Channa masala with basmati rice, chard and raita
At least I haven’t lost my taste for Indian food. I loaded up on the cucumber raita, made with lots of gut-happy Greek yogurt and roasted cumin. It went well with the spicy chickpeas and sauteed greens. Not a bad way to make my intestines happy.
Overall, today wasn’t a total dairy bomb. Aside from the milk and yogurt, everything else was vegan. My guts weren’t happy about the milk, but they did seem to enjoy the yogurt.
It will be interesting to see how my taste buds change after I go off antibiotics. How closely linked are taste buds and gut flora? Well, that’s a research topic for a different post!