Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth - SIBO

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is an accumulation of bacteria in the small Intestines. Normally these bacteria live with in the large intestines, but when they migrate and colonise within the small Intestine they can begin to cause problems. 

SIBO can occur because there has been a breach in the defence mechanism within the GI tract i.e a weakened immune defence. This could be due to slow digestion ( chronic constipation) meaning that food takes longer than it should to travel through the intestines, providing plenty of nutrients for the bacteria to live on, and leaving you nutrient deficient. Poor gastric, pancreatic, gall bladder and stomach acid secretions meaning that food cannot be digested and motility is slower, encouraging the growth of SIBO. High levels of glucose in the blood can accelerate the growth of the bacteria, as it provides the perfect condition for bacteria to flourish and grow. 

Symptoms of SIBO include:
  • Bloating / Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight Loss
  • Nausea 
  • Anxiety
  • Heartburn
  • Brain fog
  • Malabsorption of Iron, vitamin D, A, E, B12
  • Systemic symptoms such as : Joint pain, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes

Risk factors for SIBO
Overgrowth of bacteria can interfere with our normal digestion & absorption of food as well as damaging our gut lining known as 'leaky gut' or intestinal permeability. 
  1. Bacteria in the small intestine can consume our food, which over times leads us to become deficient in nutrients such as Iron and B12. 
  2. When bacteria ferment our food they produce gas within the small intestines. The gas can cause bloating, pain, constipation / diarrhoea, belching and flatulence.
  3.  Bacteria can decrease fat absorption by disrupting bile which is needed for fat digestion. This can lead to deficiencies of Vitamin A & D. A sign of poor fat digestion would be greasy stools.
  4. Damage to the gut lining, can mean that larger food particles that are not able to be digested can enter the blood stream. This can trigger an immune reaction leading to inflammation, allergies, intolerances and symptoms such as eczema and hay-fever. Bacteria themselves can also enter the blood stream, triggering an immune reaction, resulting in chronic fatigue and body pain. 
How to test for SIBO? 
The most accurate way to test for SIBO is a breath test. This involves taking either a glucose or lactulose tablet, and then breathing into a bag every 20 minutes for 3 hours. The test is non invasive and results usually take 7-10 days. An increase in either hydrogen or methane would imply that you have SIBO. 

Treatment for SIBO
The good news is SIBO is easy to treat through diet, antimicrobials and lifestyle changes. Many of my clients have been able to address SIBO by following a similar protocol to below.
  1. First Test to confirm that you have SIBO.
  2. Next address the diet, and adopt a 'SIBO' friendly protocol. 
  3. Add in digestive enzymes that would help break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This would reduce the time in which the bacteria could ferment the food contributing to symptoms such as gas/bloating. 
  4. Use Natural antimicrobials to eradicate the bacteria. 
  5. Prioritise healing the gut throughout, by repairing any damage to the gut lining & re populating with a strong probiotic. 
If you suspect you might have SIBO or suffer with any of the above symptoms, please get in touch