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What is SIBO and How Can it Affect You?


By Columnist Trudy Cadoo – Senior Naturopath:

Beneficial gut bacteria
Photo Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute – Healthy Gut Bacteria

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth — ‘SIBO’ for short — is exactly as its name suggests: an increased amount of bacteria in your gut. It can also refer to changes in the types of gut bacteria. SIBO causes hydrogen, methane and or hydrogen sulphide gas production causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) type symptoms and can also damage to the intestinal wall. So, you ask, how does SIBO sneak its way into your body?

What are the Causes of SIBO?

The leading causes of SIBO are:

Post-infection gastroenteritis – think back to when travelling (Bali Belly) or a tummy bug that went around the office? It’s something that you may rather choose to forget, although it may be something that isn’t going to forget you.

A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars – This includes white bread and pasta, as well as ‘sometimes foods’ like cake and potato chips is a draw card. Certain bacteria thrive off these refined carbohydrates, metabolising the refined carbohydrates and causing gas and bloating.

A number of medications – Certain medications can result in SIBO, these are – antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, morphine and other opiates, narcotics, possibly beta agonists and calcium channel blockers.

What are the Symptoms of SIBO?

Symptoms of SIBO can include:
• Constipation
• Diarrhoea
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Abdominal pain and cramping
• Nausea
• Heartburn
• Bloating
• Food sensitivities
• Skin rashes
• GORD / acid reflux
• Joint pain
• Respiratory symptoms
• Iron and B12 deficiency

SIBO may prevent your body from digesting and absorbing the nutrients contained in your food. It can also damage the lining of the small bowel. This damage may lead to leaky gut syndrome. This ‘bad’ bacteria — currently residing in your gut —will impact how you absorb nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron and folate, which, in turn, has an impact on your energy levels, immune system and nervous system.

Do I Have SIBO?

SIBO is quite common in people with gluten, lactose or fructose intolerance. It is highly likely you may not even know you have one of these intolerances — you can rule it out by being tested.

If you suffer from IBS, you might also be experiencing bacterial overgrowth in your gut. Eighty percent of IBS suffers are believed to have SIBO.

To rule SIBO out of the equation, or confirm possible treatment options it is strongly advised to have an SIBO test. Testing for SIBO is a non-invasive breath test. Bacterial overgrowth can cause a rise in gases which are not produced by humans. These gases are hydrogen and methane, which diffuse from the small intestine into the blood and transported to the lungs where exhaled. By capturing the breath after a specific prep diet, assessment of hydrogen and methane gases take place. Best of all, the test is conveniently done at home.

Treatment for SIBO

If SIBO is present in your system, the treatment plan is a change in diet. The SIBO friendly diet is gluten and dairy free, low in grains, carbs and sugar. Nutritional supplementation and herbal remedies are prescribed alongside the dietary guidelines to assist treatment of SIBO.

Treating SIBO isn’t always easy and does involve many changes in your diet and lifestyle. However, under the right supervision, you can regain vitality and health.

About Our Naturopathic News and Review ColumnistTrudy Cadoo - Logo

Trudy CadooTrudy Cadoo is a Senior Naturopath at Brisbane Livewell Clinic, Wavell Heights. She believes that health is more than the absence of disease. It is the balance of many factors including mental, emotional and physical well-being. Trudy uses a wide range of diagnostic tools to identify and treat presenting problems.  Trudy specialises in helping busy professional women gain more energy, increase their immune system and feel more vital and in control of their health.

Disclaimer: The information published in this column is the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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