What is SIBO? Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is NOT an infection. Put simply, it is a reflux of bacteria from the large intestine into the small intestine via the ileocecal valve. The bacteria normally live happily in the colon and we want them there. We do not want them to migrate from their “home base”. In the case of SIBO, we have a situation of the “wrong place” and always at the wrong time”. The bacteria aren’t bad guys; they’ve just lost their way.
*Did you know that approximately 65% of IBS/IBD cases are positive for SIBO?
What symptoms can I expect to have from SIBO?
Here is the short list of many possible symptoms:
Mood changes: i.e. anxiety, depression, brain fog
GERD (aka: acid reflux-ouchie!)
New onset of allergies and food sensitivities
Why should I care about SIBO if I don’t have symptoms but test positive?
Bacteria eat your food! This causes malnutrition, leading to weight loss or weight GAIN, anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.
Over time, the gut becomes “leaky”. As gap junctions in the small intestine get larger and the gut gets more permeable, partially digestive food particles enter the blood stream and the immune system sees these proteins as invaders! As a result, you end up with cross reactivity’s leading to autoimmune diseases and food allergies.
How is SIBO prevented?
The small intestine has many protections against bacterial colonization:
HCL: Kills incoming bacteria (through mouth/nose)
Bile, enzymes: Kills/arrests growth
Immune system: Kills bacteria
Normal SI anatomy (allows bacteria to move out)
Migrating motor complex (moves bacteria out, prevents large intestine backflow)
*Only one or more of the above protections need to fail for SIBO to occur.
Am I at risk for developing SIBO? If you answer “yes” to any of these, then you most certainly are!
I was not breast-fed
I was born via C-section
I gave birth via C-section
I have had a head injury (i.e. concussion)
I have used PPI’s to control acid reflux symptoms
I have used at least one round of antibiotics in my lifetime or used opiates
I have a history of PTSD or trauma/anxiety
I suffer with constipation
I have an autoimmune disease
I have a connective tissue disease
I have hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid)
I’ve had abdominal surgery (i.e. appendectomy, hysterectomy – resulting in abdominal adhesions)
Travel overseas: food poisoning
How do you diagnose SIBO:
Breath test that measures hydrogen and methane gases over a 3-hour period after a very small quantity of lactulose ingestion.
How do I treat SIBO?!
SIBO specific diet protocols and lifestyle changes.