Small intestinal bacterial over growth (SIBO) can be a serious condition affecting the small intestines. We have good bacteria and bad bacteria through out our entire GI system known as the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome helps digestion while benefiting your immune system. Dysbiosis is the disruption of the gut microbiome causing too much bad bacteria leading to SIBO. SIBO is bacterial over growth in the small intestines. This can cause pain and diarrhea including malnutrition. If SIBO is not addressed, this can lead to what is considered a leaky gut from inflammation over load. Leaky gut is when there is damage to the intestinal lining making it too permeable allowing undigested food particles leak into the bloodstream. Sending the immune system into over drive from the toxic buildup of foreign particles. Your body wants to kill all the foreign material but it becomes confused, eventually unable to determine self from foreign material. This can lead to long term effects resulting in food intolerance and autoimmune disorders. SIBO does not discriminate with age, gender, etc. It can affect everyone. SIBO is a nasty cycle that is hard to stop and is an uphill battle to correct.
SIBO is not yet well understood. Here are a few causes resulting in over growth of bacteria.
- Poor nutrition, diet
- The PH in your gut changes
- Poor immune system
- The muscular function in your intestines are not functioning properly. Also known as slow motility. This can result in bacteria overgrowth from undigested food
- Over use of PPIs (AKA medication for reflux)
- Antibiotic usage- It only takes one course of antibiotics to throw off your gut microbiome.
Common health conditions associated with SIBO include:
- Viral (stomach bug)
- IBS, Celiac, Crohn’s
- Nerve damage (Chiropractors are your best friends)
- Cirrhosis and portal hypertension
- Strictures or adhesions
Chronic health conditions that slow the gut motility are a major risk factor. These include Crohn’s, Parkinsons, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and medications such as narcotics. Heavy alcohol usage will increase your risk as well.
SIBO symptoms mostly affect the gut. However, the more chronic the condition, the more broad the symptoms can be. Initially you may feel digestive issues such as pain especially after eating, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gas, and/or feeling full. If you dont address SIBO, this can lead to some if not all of the following symptoms….
- Food allergies/ sensitivities
- Skin issues such as rashes, acne, eczema
- Chronic sinus infections
- Fatigue, brain fog
- Swollen, painful joints
- Hormonal disruptions
The ‘gold standard’ for non-invasive SIBO testing is a hydrogen breath test. This test measures levels of hydrogen and methane gas in your breath.
Positive Intestinal Permeability Test measures the ability of two nonmetabolizing sugar molecules mannitol and lactulose getting through the digestive lining. This is measurable via a urine sample.
Zonulin is another test that can be utilized. Zonulin acts like a patch for holes in the intestinal lining. If zonulin is present or elevated, it indicates the body is producing more to repair the leaky spaces in the small intestines.
Food antibody tests are also utilized and can be indicative of SIBO or leaky gut.
Very often SIBO is missed. Many people can go for years with out a proper diagnosis. At this point, many symptoms are occurring. One common confusion of SIBO is acid reflux. Before you start acid reflux treatments, discuss symptoms of a possible SIBO diagnosis. PPI’s and acid reflux medication can worsen SIBO symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms, keep pushing for answers.
When addressing any type of symptoms, it is essential to find the root cause that may be contributing to the illness. Whether it is the migrating motor complex, structural issues such as adhesions or any of the above mentioned causes, the root cause needs to be addressed so healing can occur.
However, A good place to start would be an elimination diet of removing irritating substances such as reactive foods or imbalanced gut bacteria.
Keeping a food journal. Sometimes it can take a couple days for your body to react to an aggravating food. Keep an journal of the foods you eat and how you feel after each meal. Also, jot down when you use the bathroom.
The next step would be to look at your nutritional status. A good nutritional guide to utilize during this time is low FODMAP foods, short for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Which is basically high in fiber and low in sugar. Sugar feeds bacteria!
Keeping your gut PH in balance will help keep the good bacteria and rid of the bad. Most common acidic foods include high refined sugar, lactose, Wheat gluten, alcohol, NSAIDs.
Digestive enzymes help break down and absorb foods you eat. There are other forms of digestive enzymes that also help supplement your HCL levels, the acid in your stomach. Remember stomach acid breaks down food. Be cautious on usage because it can be too much causing adverse affects of dumping syndrome leading to malabsorption. Digestive enzymes with added HCL should only be used under a providers supervision.
Support the body with detoxification. When you change your diet, the bad bacteria will not like this and start to die-off. This buildup of toxins needs to be removed from the body. A safe way to detox for any age is to sweat with activity, and/or epsom salt baths. However, some people require more help with detoxing. Keep in mind, detoxing can make you feel a bit worse before you feel better. Seek help from a holistic provider to properly detox at any age.
If you’re experiencing constipation from slow motility, magnesium and vitamin C daily will help keep you regular. Talk to your provider about dosing for treating constipation. Like most supplements, start low and go slow. The main goal of SIBO treatments is to keep the pipes running smoothly and not backed up, slow or sluggish to prohibit more bacteria.
Chiropractor care and applied kinesiology is the single most best thing you can do, aside from nutrition, to help your body heal and be healthy. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body starting from the neck down to the GI system. It’s a major component in the parasympathetic nervous system, affecting every major system and organ in your body. It sends signals in your body controlling your fight-or-flight, and rest-or-digest response… Pretty important! If the nervous system is not balanced, it can wreak havoc on the other systems in your body including your GI system.
Lastly, its time to repopulate the gut with good bacteria. A probiotic will help balance your flora. It is best to avoid general store bought and use refrigerated products only. Some probiotics will aggravate your stomach with SIBO. It is best to start low and go slow to find what works best. Probiotic rich foods can help improve that balance more naturally prior to starting supplements.
The key point regarding SIBO is to keep your food moving along the digestive track while eating healthy, hydrating and exercise daily.
What symptoms do you experience? When are they at its worse? Does your child have symptoms of SIBO?