What is SIBO?

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is caused when normal bacteria enters the small intestine in large numbers, causing havoc. Is it estimated that up to 80% of IBS sufferers may actually have SIBO. If you suffer from the following symptoms, you may be suffering from SIBO.

Bloating
Chronic Digestive Complaints
Cramping
Abdominal cramping and pain
Constipation
Joint Pain
Diarrhoea
Skin rashes
Alternating constipation and diarrhoea
Iron and B12 deficiency
Food sensitivities
Respiratory symptoms such as asthma
Food sensitivities
Burping and farting

What causes SIBO?

It is believed that SIBO can be caused or exacerbated through a variety of means.

Food poisoning
Overconsumption of simple carbohydrates
Abdominal cramping and pain
The contraceptive pill
Stress causing changes to the acidity levels in the stomach and motility of the small intestines which causes pooling and stagnation of food, which causes bacterial overgrowth
Diabetes
Gastroenteritis[
Gastrointestinal infection and upset
Antibiotic use
Acid blockers
Initial colonization of bad bacteria due to caesarian birth and lack of breast feeding
Fungus overgrowth
Hypothyroidism
A dysfunctional ileocecal valve
Surgical intervention and operations in the abdomen e.g. Appendectomy

Conditions associated with SIBO

There are a number of conditions that are known to be associated with SIBO. These are

IBS
Restless leg syndrome
Acid reflux
Acne rosacea
Coeliac disease
Hyperthyroidism
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Scleroderma
Fibromyalgia
Chronic Prostatitis
Non alcoholic Steatohepatitis
Diabetes
Liver cirrhosis
Inflammatory bowel disease e.g. Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
Interstitial cystitis

What does it do to you?

Instead of allowing the villi and microvilli to absorb nutrients from the food, the bacteria digest it instead, causing it to ferment. A bi-product of the bacteria’s digestion is methane and/or hydrogen gas, which is only produced by the bacteria and not our bodies.

These gases cause bloating, wind, cramping, diarrhea, burping, constipation and more. It is also believed that this gas can cause leaky gut syndrome, where the cell wall of the gut becomes permeable and allows food particles through to the blood stream, which creates an immune response.

The other side effect of SIBO is damage to the villi and microvilli, which results in nutrients not being absorbed. When bacteria digest your food, it means they’re taking a lot of the nutrients before it makes it to you, which leads to malabsorption of monosaccharides, amino acids, vitamins (especially B12 and folic acid), and minerals (especially magnesium, iron and calcium).

What can be done to treat SIBO?

Many health practitioners take a double approach through starvation of the bacteria and active treatment. They believe it is important to stop feeding the bacteria. This means removing the foods they love to eat: sugars, carbohydrates and starches. They can live for several months without these foods so a diet that avoids these substances is required.

Along with starving them, it is important to reduce their numbers by killing them. This can be done through herbal antimicrobials, antibiotics or both. When both approaches are taken (starvation and death), people have the best results. It’s also important to address stress levels, poor sleep and movement as these can impact recovery.

Once the bacteria are gone, it’s important to reintroduce the good bacteria so they can help heal your gut and fight future battles against the baddies.

In addition, it’s also important to understand why the body developed SIBO in the first case. Just like bloating can be a symptom of SIBO, SIBO is a symptom of an underlying condition that allowed the bacteria to migrate and multiply in the small intestine.

To learn more about the SIBO Test

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