Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a digestive imbalance where bacteria is present in the small intestine. The problem with SIBO isn’t that the bacteria is pathogenic. Rather, it’s the accumulation of bacteria in the wrong place.
In a healthy scenario, the majority of your gut flora and bacteria populates the large intestines. For several reasons that I talk about in the video, bacteria migrate to the small intestine, ferment food (causing gas, bloating, etc..), compete with your body for nutrients, inflame the gut, disrupt digestion and absorption, and result in nutrient deficiencies, especially vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
SIBO: Symptoms, Why Fix it, and Treatment Options
Watch the video for full details about SIBO symptoms, the problems it creates, why it’s important to fix it, and treatment options. If you prefer to read, I listed the key information below.
When you’re ready to dive deeper into your health, get tested for SIBO, get a full gut assessment, and get a customized food and supplement plan to treat SIBO and any other condition or imbalance that could be happening and you don’t know it, let’s talk. Book a free discovery call HERE.
Here are the symptoms that can indicate SIBO or can result from having SIBO:
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Research shows that 60-80% of IBS cases are caused by SIBO
- Gas and bloating
- Excessive burping and belching
- Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain
- Diarrhea or constipation, or both
- Heartburn, acid reflux
- Indigestion, feeling that food is stuck in your stomach, feeling too full even with a small amount of food
- Anemia (both iron or vitamin B12)
- Food sensitivity symptoms like muscle and joint pain, headaches, migraines, brain fog, eczema (read more about food sensitivities)
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Why is it important to fix SIBO?
SIBO will keep your gut in a state of inflammation, which will lead to a cascade of side effects and disturbances longterm. Here is why you must address SIBO so the problem doesn’t get any worse:
- Bacteria in the small intestine ferment food, especially carbohydrates and fibers, releasing hydrogen and methane gases that cause your pain and discomfort. The result is bloating, gas, belching, and burping. The gases can push the stomach content up and cause acid reflux and heartburn.
- Bacteria in the small intestine will compete with your body for nutrients. The result is iron and/or vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Bacteria in the small intestine causes damage to lining of your gut. This means that the cells of your small intestine can’t produce adequate enzymes to digest food, which means that you will be stuck in a circle where bacteria is better at fermenting food than you at digesting and absorbing it.
- Bacteria in the small intestine can enter the blood stream and cause toxicity. The bacteria become an endotoxin and trigger an immune system attack that can cause fatigue, muscle pain, increased detoxification load on the liver, and neurological issues like mood fluctuations, anxiety, and depression.
- When you don’t digest food properly and have an inflamed and damaged gut, you’re going to develop food sensitivities. Read more about food sensitivity symptoms and testing here.
How to Treat SIBO
These are the common treatment options for SIBO:
- Antibiotics. That’s typically the route that a GI doctor will take.
- Diet: there are several plans that help with SIBO. They all agree on removing carbohydrates that are fermentable by bacteria, as well as sugars and processed foods. Some eliminate all grains while others don’t. I’ve used a low FODMAPs diet, SCD diet, as well as SIBO-specific diet in the past with my patients. An elemental diet where you only drink shakes that are 100% broken down to basic units (single sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids) is very effective. However, it can be expensive, unappetizing, and can have side effects like yeast overgrowth. It’s only to be used as a last resort.
- Plant and herbal antimicrobials such as garlic and oil of oregano. I have used multiple products and protocols. Sometimes my patients needed several rounds to be able to completely eliminate SIBO.
- Heal the gut lining: a complete gut protocol will include nutrients to heal the gut like bone broth, enzymes, amino acids (like glutamine, certain vitamins and minerals (vitamin A and zinc), antioxidants, and probiotics. With SIBO, it’s very important to introduce the right probiotics at the right time or it will backfire.
- Get to the root cause of the problem and fix concurrent issues. I often need to test for food sensitivities to get patients, especially those who had damage in the gut for years, complete improvement. Get a complete stool and gut assessment and other tests to rule out an underlying condition that is causing SIBO.
- Prevent SIBO from returning by boosting digestion and promoting proper gut motility. Things like ginger, enzymes, and raw apple cider vinegar can help. Talk with your doctor about a plan for stopping your PPI or other acid-suppressing medications.
This is a quick overview of SIBO. You can try to do it on your own and put the pieces together. However, if you want clarity and want to get on the fastest route to healing your SIBO and eliminating your pain and discomfort, I highly recommend that you work with someone who is experienced in this condition.
When you’re ready to get tested for SIBO, get a full gut assessment, and get a customized food and supplement plan to treat SIBO and any other condition or imbalance that could be happening and you don’t know it, let’s talk. Book a free discovery call HERE.