How to Fix Your Constant Bloating. It Might be SIBO.
Are you bloated all the time? Do you have inconsistent bowel pattern and feel like the healthier you eat, the worse your symptoms get? Has your doctor told you it is IBS? The majority of my clients have this exact complaint and often times the underlying issue is an imbalance in bacteria called SIBO. SIBO or small bacterial overgrowth is an even more specific condition impacting digestion. It is thought that 60-70% of people with IBS actually have SIBO.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is a condition where anaerobic bacteria in the large intestines (LI) are found in significant populations in the small intestines (SI) where they ferment certain carbohydrates (disaccharides). There are 17 times more bacteria in the LI than the SI and the LI are designed to be a fermentation vessel. However, when fermentation happens in the SI this leads to an increased production of methane and hydrogen, aka gas and bloating.
What are the common symptoms of SIBO?
Classic symptoms include nausea, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, halitosis, constipation and in severe cases malnutrition. However, there are other symptoms that are not as connected to digestive health like muscle weakness, joint pain, brain fog, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, GERD, neuropathy and skin rashes. In many cases it’s beneficial to change your diet to see if symptoms improve. This provides great insight into whether or not you actually have SIBO.
How Does SIBO Occur?
SIBO is influenced by multiple factors. Major contributors, include:
Food Poisoning- After a rough bout of food poisoning, your migrating motor complex (MMC) is damaged. The MMC is responsible for moving undigested food and bacteria through the GI tract. When this This unique and vital function is responsible for managing bacteria in the large intestine and ensuring it doesn’t grow into the small intestine. When the MMC is impacted, it cannot do its job efficiently, and SIBO may arise.
Antibiotics- Frequent use of antibiotics wipes out all gut bugs- good and bad. While it’s ideal to kill off an overgrowth of the bad guys, optimal health depends on a community of the good bacteria at all times.
Thyroid Prescriptions- Chronic use of thyroid medicine can alter stomach acidity, resulting in hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). Without adequate levels of stomach acid, bacteria has the opportunity to live, thrive, and eventually, overgrow.
Stress - High levels of stress can impact the foods we eat and the diversity of our gut microbiome. If we are under constant stress this can decrease our ability to break foods down effectively. It can also impact our bacteria levels and create higher levels of bad bacteria and leave us susceptible to bacteria moving from our large intestines to our small intestines.
How to Diagnose SIBO
The best way to diagnose SIBO is to complete a breath test, which is part of our Fearless coaching program. This test allows you to measure the amount of hydrogen and methane your body produces over a 3 hour period. Finding unusual spikes in the levels of both methane and hydrogen can indicate the presence of SIBO. The test below is an example of the report you will receive.
After a breath test, your practitioner will help you determine what type of SIBO you have and what the best course of action. The different types of SIBO require different types of treatment.
Getting Rid of SIBO
Change your Diet - If you don’t have access to testing, low FODMAP diets have been shown to be an effective tool at managing and decreasing symptoms. These are not long-term diets and should only be followed for 2-6 weeks as it is nutrient restricted and can negatively impact the gut microbiome. Check out this APP for a more in-depth overview of what foods to avoid. If you find that your symptoms improve while on a low FODMAP diet, you may want to look into getting tested for SIBO. If SIBO is what is causing your digestive symptoms, you must kill off the bacteria or you won’t correct the issue.
Adding in a digestive enzyme during this time can help as well. Flatter Me is a great blend of enzymes that help breakdown fat, carbohydrates and protein which can help ease bloating.
Eliminate the Bacteria - Once you confirm you have SIBO, it is important to work with a practitioner that can help give you the right balance of supplements or antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria in your small intestines and put you on a proper diet. SIBO can be complex to treat, so working with a credible practitioner is very important.
Decreasing Snacking - Since the Migrating Motor Complex is often damaged in those with SIBO, giving your body more time between meals can help support digestion and the clearance of undigested food.
Digestive issues like IBS and SIBO can be tricky to navigate and are becoming increasingly prevalent. Many times we can correct underlying imbalances by changing the foods we eat, getting more mindful about stress management and adding in the right supplements. Healing your digestion and figuring out the root cause of digestive disturbances is the key to optimal health. If you are ready to get to the root cause, sign-up for our Fearless Program where you will receive:
2 SIBO Breathe Tests (One before treatment to diagnose, one after to ensure it has cleared)
5 one-on-one sessions with Sarah
Custom meal plans
Unlimited messaging in the client portal
Personalized therapeutic supplement treatments
15% discount on all supplements
Are you ready to heal your gut?! GET STARTED!