What is SIBO?

Originally Posted 2/25/2018

Since my last FB posting about SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), more people have asked about this topic. So here is more information. Please note this is for your information only and not medical advise. For diagnosis and treatment, please speak with a qualified health care professional.

Each one of us has trillions of bacteria in our intestines. However, most of the bacteria reside in the colon. Fewer and perhaps different types of bacteria is in the small intestine. SIBO occurs when abnormally large number of, or inappropriate bacteria occupies the small intestine.

Signs and symptoms that you may have SIBO include:

  • Bloating, abdominal pain or camping, belching, gas, diarrhea or constipation
  • Delayed gastric emptying
  • Anemia, malnutrition, decreased bile acid, fatty stool,
  • weight loss or weight gain, food allergies,
  • brain fog, systemic inflammation, chronic fatigue, low energy, restless leg syndrome
  • Micronutrient deficiencies (B12, Vitamins A, D, E, iron, thiamine (Vitamin B1), niacinamide (B3), minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium)

Causes of SIBO can vary. Low stomach acid(achlorhydria) is associated with SIBO. Similarly, those who use Proton Pump Inhibitors to suppress acid production may also be at risk for SIBO or fungal overgrowth. Remember that acid is one way for us to kill off certain harmful bacteria. Take away the acid, more bacteria will enter your intestine. Motility issues, or small intestinal obstruction may create problems. Generally, we want most of the bacteria to move down to the colon, where they can happily breakdown fibers and push things along.  But with motility problems, the bacteria don’t move so well and get stuck in the small intestine.  People with Celiac or Crohn’s Disease and short bowel syndrome also have higher prevalence of developing SIBO, potentially due to motility issues. There is also evidence that Type 1 diabetes patients with autonomic neuropathy may also have a higher chance of getting SIBO due to impaired motility.

We’ve known about the importance of gut health for a while now. But seldom is this translated into clinical practice. Poor gut health may instigate inflammatory response. The inflammatory response moves into the brain and increases the chance of brain fog or other neurological disorders. Or, inflammation may occur on the skin.  A research article in Clinical Gastroenterology Hepatology stated: “Rosacea patients have a significantly higher SIBO prevalence than control population; and that eradication of SIBO induced complete remission of cutaneious lesions.”

Treatment for SIBO varies greatly depending on the person and type of bacterial overgrowth. It may be probiotics or antibiotics, dietary change, motility agents or herbal antibiotics or supplements. You will need to speak with a qualified health care professional who will go through all your history and order diagnostic tests, such as lactulose breath test or upper GI aspiration. Sometimes further testing may be required, that may be organic acid test or stool analysis.

The great news is that more research is being done to increase our knowledge of the gut microbiota. And as a result, more treatment options and protocols have been developed to treat various seemingly unrelated diseases through optimization of gut health. The medical world is finally getting that human body’s organs are very much connected and in constant communication. We cannot just treat one organ and expect the person to heal.

We really need to respect our entire body and its environment to gain optimal health!


Holiday Indulgences

Orignally Posted 1/8/2018

I was on a streak of cutting out sugar and alcohol in 2017. Then came Christmas.  My significant other is Swedish, and he created a wonderful array of deliciousness for Christmas. The scent of fresh baked Pepparkakor (ginger snap cookies), eggnog, Lussekatter (saffron buns), rye bread, and of course glögg!  How could I not cave in? So all those things I vowed to cut out: sugar, dairy, wheat, are all back in my diet. I must say, every bite and every sip was sensational with positive holiday season emotions.

After this holiday indulgence (yes I ate a lot!), I noticed that I no longer feel as vibrant. Some familiar symptoms crept up:

  • sleep disturbances leading to fatigue
  • dry, itchy skin with inflammation in some areas
  • feeling tired all the time
  • short tempered
  • stiff joints in the mornings
  • poor recovery after my regular workout
  • lack of motivation
  • muffin top (waisteline bulge) is back!

Prior to changing my diet, theses were minor symptoms that I didn’t really pay attention to because they were always there. I assumed they were “normal”. After all, don’t everyone feel fatigue and have some non-life threatening health issues?  It wasn’t until I made drastic changes to my diet and lifestyle that I realized what good should feel like. Of course, now I know, these symptoms are so obvious I wish I had known what I know now sooner.

Since I’ve learned how food impacts our bodies, I am able see and feel the differences. I am happy to get back on track with a no sugar, wheat free, dairy free diet. It’s only been 2 days since I started cutting out these offending agents once again, and it will likely take a month more to get back to normal again.

I am sure I am not the only person to have lost my ways over this period of time. Was it worth it? While I enjoyed every bite, the consequences were definitely not desirable. But I am not going to beat myself up for it. And if you did the same, just know that this happens, and gently steer yourself back on track. Be mindful of what you eat so you can get your health back!

Happy New Year everyone! Keep the warm memories of this past holiday season in your heart. Have a great start, and may 2018 be a year filled with Joy, Peace, and Kindness.