What is SIBO?

Our intestinal tract is normally full of bacteria, but it congregates in much larger quantities in the large intestine compared with the small intestine. With SIBO, which stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, the small intestine often has more of the bacteria normally seen only in the large intestine.

The overgrowth of bacteria diminishes the small intestine’s ability to do its job properly, making it harder for your body to digest food and absorb nutrients. Over time, that can lead to more long-term symptoms including leaky gut, food allergies, autoimmune diseases or skin disorders.

Risk factors that are common causes of SIBO include, but are not limited to:

  • History of intestinal infections – therefore repeated use of antibiotics
  • History of abdominal surgery
  • Diabetes, which disrupts the nerves and affect intestinal functions
  • Diverticula
  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Hypochlorhydria

If your symptoms and risk factors signal that you might have SIBO, your ND can order the lactulose breath test to help determine your diagnosis. The results of your breath test also will help your ND formulate a treatment plan tailored specifically for you.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Diet is Key

Diet is part of the treatment, as some foods are more likely to inflame the small intestine, while others can help it heal faster. You heal with good nutrition. SIBO patients ought increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin A-rich foods, glutamine-rich foods and supplements and bone broth, while also decreasing foods that are high in what are known as FODMAPS, which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.

FODMAPS. If you have an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, these bacteria are going to get really energized by certain plant components and that is where the digestive symptoms come from.

FODMAPS foods in general are difficult for your to body digest, but if you decrease your intake of these foods and your digestive issues decrease, it could be an indicator that you have SIBO without having to do the lactulose breath test. Some common examples of FODMAPS foods include:

  • Avocadoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon
  • Legumes
  • Milk because of lactose (cheese is not as much of a problem because the lactose gets broken down in the aging process)

One of the most common reasons that people develop SIBO is due to poor intestinal motility (take the beet test from the other article in this Head to Heal spring newsletter to determine your motility). If you do not address the motility issue by healing the gut, you are not treating the underlying cause and the SIBO will likely return. It is important to make sure that the eradication of the overgrowth of bacteria is complete before moving onto the next phases of treatment to prevent SIBO from retuning.

Probiotics & SIBO

If you believe you have SIBO, SIBO is one disorder where probiotics usually worsen symptoms. You need the right medicine at the right time in the right sequence. With SIBO, there is an overgrowth of pathobionts – the bacteria that are “not good” so adding good bacteria at the wrong time, before killing the “bad” bacteria can exacerbate symptoms. However, once your tract is in recovery mode, that would be an excellent time to consider adding in a probiotic.

For more information on SIBO and the FODMAP diet please visit this excellent site http://www.siboinfo.com/diet.html

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