SIBO

woman suffering from SIBO

SIBO: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Despite its name, the small intestine is actually a whopping 20 feet of very important tissue between your stomach and large intestine. The small intestine is divided up into 3 parts. The part closest to your stomach is called the duodenum, next is the jejunum and the last stretch before your large intestine is your ileum. The small intestine has the important job of digesting food and absorbing nutrients to keep us in good health. As if that wasn’t significant enough, it is also a key contributor to a healthy immune system.

The small intestine plays host to specific beneficial microorganisms that help protect our bodies against bad (pathogenic) bacteria and yeast. These good bacteria also do their part to produce vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and folate. They are the keepers of the small intestine, ensuring that it continues to do its thing, muscling waves of food through the gut.

What is SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO occurs when there is an increased number of bacteria and/or a change in the type of bacteria present in your small intestine. Overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine is considered to be greater than 100 000 bacteria per millilitre of fluid. Most often SIBO is caused by an overgrowth of the wrong types of bacteria that actually belong in the colon (the large intestine). In truth, the small intestine is meant to be fairly clean. Food coming from the top down through the stomach is sterilized by stomach acid. So anything passing into the small intestine from the top shouldn’t contain much in the way of bacteria. Absence of adequate stomach acid may contribute to SIBO as this would allow passage of bacteria into the intestines. Another theory as to how this occurs is that there is a motor complex that propels everything in your intestines one direction – out the far end. This migrating motor complex or MMC can malfunction, allowing a backwash of bacteria from the large intestine to move up into the small intestine.

The bacteria that causes SIBO is like a bad tenant. It invites all its rowdy friends in for a party and damages the cell lining of the small bowel. This can lead to leaky gut, allowing large protein molecules to move through the intestinal barrier and escape into the bloodstream. As you can imagine, this causes a number of problems, including general inflammation, immune reactions that cause food allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

These havoc-causing bad bacteria are also responsible for poor digestion, constipation or diarrhea and malabsorption. Patients with SIBO may suffer from nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron, vitamin B12, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as having unintended weight loss, and even osteoporosis.

Do I Have SIBO?

SIBO is considered an under-diagnosed condition as many people do not seek medical care for their symptoms or they get wrongly diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of SIBO

Signs and symptoms of SIBO include:

· Bloating and abdominal swelling

· Abdominal pain or discomfort

· Diarrhea

· Constipation

· Gas and belching

· Weakness and fatigue

In the most severe cases, patients experience weight loss and vitamin deficiency-related symptoms.

Who is at risk for SIBO? How Do You Get SIBO?

While the elderly may be the most vulnerable population for developing SIBO as its prevalence rises with age, there are multiple other risk factors that can increase your chances, no matter your age. These include:

· Medication use, especially antibiotics

· Gastric acid suppression or Low Stomach Acid (due to stress, medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) or antacids, and lifestyle factors)

· Fibromyalgia

· Celiac disease

· Crohn’s disease

· Prior bowel surgery

· Diabetes Types I & II

· Irritable bowel syndrome

Studies also indicate that moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women and two for men) promotes the overgrowth of certain types of bacteria and also impairs vital functions. This results in small bowel injury and decreased muscle contractions impairing the migrating motor complex.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or think you might be at risk, then we encourage you to make an appointment to assess your symptoms and get tested. Specialized testing can be accomplished through a breath test. This breath test measures your hydrogen and methane gas levels produced by bacterial metabolism and can be a very helpful indicator to determine if you are suffering from SIBO.

What Causes SIBO and How Can You Treat It?

Despite multiple courses of antibiotics being a risk factor, specific antibiotics (like Rifaximin) are still most often used to treat SIBO. However, studies show that SIBO returns in nearly half of all patients within a year after treatment.

Successful treatment of SIBO must be handled just like any other health condition – not with a temporary Band-aid solution, but by addressing the underlying cause! Intestinal bacteria can be influenced by numerous factors beyond what we eat and how much. Environmental effects, drugs, alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, mood disorders, hormone imbalances and lifestyle factors such as stress can all be contributing factors to poor gut health. Therefore, the treatment must be unique to the individual and all-encompassing.

Once you have identified the cause, treat SIBO symptoms through a healthy diet, nutritional supplements and positive lifestyle changes that help return the body to balance.

Tips for dealing with SIBO

  1. Eat three meals per day spaced 4-5 hour apart and avoid snacking. We need to give our body time in between meals to fully digest the previous meal.
  2. With guidance from your naturopathic doctor try an elimination diet for two weeks to get your body back on track by reducing inflammation and bacteria overgrowth. If this doesn’t seem to help, you may want to pursue food sensitivity testing through one of our ND’s. The test checks for antibodies in your bloodstream to either 96 or 184 foods. Employee benefits will sometimes cover the cost of this test along with other lab or diagnostic testing.
  3. Enjoy foods that assist digestive health like fresh pineapple which is rich in bromelain and can also help lower inflammation, and bananas which are an excellent source of potassium and manganese that your stomach lining needs for healing. Boiled cabbage water is an excellent source of the amino acid glutamine that helps heal the gut lining. Vitamin A is also essential for a healthy gut. Eating liver and beta carotene-rich foods like leafy greens and orange vegetables like carrots as well as taking cod liver oil help insure adequate vitamin A intake.
  4. Keep your fat intake in check. Research has shown that a high-fat diet, increases the growth of fat digesting bacteria at the expense of other more healthful ones. That is, microbes from the Clostridiaceae and Peptostreptococcaceae families increased while beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacteriacaea and Bacteroidacaea families (which are commonly associated with leanness) went down.

How to Get Rid of SIBO: The Steps for Successful Treatment

    1. Elimination/modification of the underlying causes. This may involve changing your diet to a whole food, low FODMAPs diet, reducing your stress, eating 3 meals per day, reducing or eliminating the need for antibiotics, optimizing digestive juices like stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes.

    2. Induction of remission (antibiotics or natural anti-microbials and elemental diet)

    3. Maintenance of remission (promotility herbs, dietary modifications, healthy lifestyle, optimized digestive juices, repeat or cyclical antimicrobials, hormone balancing, reduced alcohol intake).

SIBO Diet Food List (derived from the work of Dr. Alison Siebecker)

Foods to Eat with SIBOFoods to Avoid with SIBO
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds
Almond flour
Coconut: flour/shredded/milk
Hazelnuts
Macadamia
Peanuts
Peanut butter
Pecans
Pine nuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Walnuts
Nuts and Seeds
Cashews
Pistachios
Pumpkin seeds
Legumes
Lentil: brown, green or red
Lima beans
Legumes
Borlotti beans
Cranberry beans
Kidney beans
Red beans
Navy beans
White beans
Haricot beans
Baked beans
Spilt pea
Butter beans
Cannellini
Chickpea
Garbanzo beans
Fava beans
Broad beans
Pinto beans
Soy beans
Protein Sources
Bacon
Broth: homemade meat or marrow bones
Beef
Eggs
Fish
Game
Lamb
Organ Meats
Pork
Poultry
Seafood
Protein sources
None
Sweeteners
Honey: alfalfa, cotton, clover, raspberry
Stevia-pure (no inulin) in small amounts, occasionally
Sweeteners
Agave syrup
Barley Malt syrup
Brown Rice syrup
Cane sugar (Rapadura, Sucanat)
Coconut sugar
Fructose, powdered
High-fructose corn syrup
Maple syrup
Molasses
Sugar/Sucrose
Sucralose
Polyols/Sugar alcohol: isomalt, erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol
Beverages
Coffee 1c/day (weak)
Tea: black (weak), chamomile, ginger, green, hibiscus, lemongrass, mate, mint, oolong, rooibos/rooibos chai, rose hip
Water
Beverages
Fruit Juices
Coffee substitutes with chicory
Coconut milk-with
thickeners (guar gum, carageenan)
Soda (fructose, sucrose)
Tea: chicory root, licorice, pau d’arco
Fats and Oils
Bacon fat
Butter
Coconut oil
Cod liver oil & Fish oil
Duck fat
Garlic-infused oil
Ghee
Lard & Tallow
Medium Chain Triglyceride/MCT oil
Macadamia oil
Olive oil
Palm oil
Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils: Borage, Canola Flax, Grape seed, Hemp, Pumpkin seed, Sesame, Sunflower, Walnut
Fats and Oils
Soybean oil
Herbs, Spices, Condiments and Seasonings
All spices (except onion & garlic)
Garlic-infused oil
Ginger (fresh & dried)
Mayonnaise, homemade or commercial with honey
Mustard - without garlic
Pickles/Relish - no sweetener or garlic
Tabasco sauce (McIlhenny Co)
Wasabi - pure
Vinegar: apple cider, distilled/white, red & white wine (NOT balsamic)
Herbs, Spices and Seasonings
Asafoetida powder
Chicory root (leaves ok)
Cocoa/chocolate-unsweetened
Gums/Carrageenan/Thickeners
Sauces or Marinades with High Fodmap ingredients
Soy Sauce/Tamari
Spices: Onion & Garlic powder
Vinegar: balsamic
Fruit
Berries: blueberry, boysenberry, strawberry, raspberry
Carambola
Citrus: lemon, lime, oranges, tangelos, tangerine
Currants
Dragon Fruit
Durian
Grapes
Guava
Kiwifruit
Longon
Melon: cantaloupe/rock, honeydew
Papaya/Paw Paw
Passion fruit
Pineapple
Pomegranate
Prickly Pear
Rambutan
Rhubarb
Fruit
Apple
Apricot
Avocado
Berries: cranberry
Cherries
Citrus, grapefruit
Custard Apple
Date, dried
Fig, dried
Mango
Nectarine
Papaya, dried
Peach
Pear
Pear: nashi
Persimmon
Plum
Pomegranate
Prunes
Raisins
Tamarillo
Watermelon
Canned fruit
Vegetables
Artichoke Hearts (small amounts)
Arugula
Bamboo Shoots
Beets
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrot
Celery Root/Celeriac
Chives
Cucumber
Eggplant
Endive
Fennel bulb < 1 cup
Green Beans
Greens: lettuce, collard, chard, kale, spinach
Olives
Peas, green
Peppers: Bell/Sweet Peppers: Chili
Radicchio
Radish
Rutabaga
Scallion: green part
Snow Peas
Squash: Butternut Kobocha, Sunburst, Yellow, Zucchini
Tomato
Vegetables
Asparagus
Bean Sprouts
Canned vegetables
Cauliflower
Corn
Garlic
Jerusalem artichoke
Leek
Mushrooms
Okra
Onions
Potato: white/all colors
Potato: sweet
Scallions: white part
Seaweeds
Shallot
Starch powder: all
arrowroot, corn, potato, rice, tapioca
Sugar Snap Peas
Taro
Turnip
Water Chestnuts
Yam
Yucca

Download our free one-week SIBO diet guide, low FODMAPs meal plan here.

Do any of the above symptoms or risk factors sound familiar? Do you think you might be suffering from SIBO? We can help! Please contact us and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on and create a plan of action to bring your body back to good health.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca for more information or to book an appointment.

To your best health!

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic – Naturopathic Doctors, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Acupuncturist/TCMP, Osteopath, Registered Dietitian, Psychotherapist

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/

 “Small intestine microbiota regulate host digestive and absorptive adaptive responses to dietary lipids,” Cell Host and Microbe (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.03.011

How to Test and Treat Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: an Evidence-Based Approach. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2016 Feb;18(2):8. doi: 10.1007/s11894-015-0482-9.

Gut or Digestion Problems?

woman with gut issues

Digestion Trouble? It’s all in your Gut!

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to your gut.  We’re still learning a lot about how the interaction between the digestive system and the rest of the body works. We know that the intestinal flora in your digestive system can affect your body’s ability to perform several critical functions that affect your overall health, such as:

  • Absorbing and producing vitamins and minerals,
  • Regulating hormones,
  • Effective digestion,
  • Responding to the immune system, and
  • Eliminating toxins

For those of us who already suffer from gastrointestinal or digestion disorders such as IBS, Celiac disease, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, SIBO or leaky gut syndrome, the link between gut and mental health becomes more pronounced. Our gastrointestinal (GI) issues can even be the root cause of many symptoms throughout the body.

Given how extensive the influence of the gut is on these essential bodily functions, it’s clear that looking after our gut health is one of the most important ways we can look after our overall health. There are many ways to take care of your gut, these are two factors that influence bowel flora directly: prebiotics and probiotics.

How does the connection between the gut and the body work?

In between the layers of your digestive tract is something called the enteric nervous system (ENS).  This is made up of two thin layers of over 100 million nerve cells lining your GI tract literally from top to bottom.

The ENS sends messages between the gut and the brain. That’s why the gut is often called the “second brain.” As you’ll see from the symptoms listed below, the messages that the second brain sends can be very persuasive!

How can you tell if your gut is imbalanced?

The ideal balance of gut bacteria is about 85% good bacteria to 15% bad bacteria out of about 100 trillion bacteria that naturally live in our gut.

This balance can be upset in the course of daily life by caffeine, processed foods, stress, long-term use of medications and definitely antibiotics. In fact, one course of antibiotics can leave your gut bacteria weaker for up to four years!

As we age, the natural decrease in our stomach acid (which plays an important role in the growth of good bacteria) enables bad bacteria to get stronger.

The main culprit of a bacteria imbalance, though, is over consumption of sugars. To make an immediate positive impact on your gut health, it’s essential to limit simple carbohydrates like sugars found in sodas, desserts, and processed foods like flour products.

There are all kinds of indicators of an imbalanced gastrointestinal system. These can be symptoms like:

  • Bloated, gassy and distended abdomen
  • Extreme bowel movement patterns like diarrhea or constipation (or a fluctuation of both)
  • Skin conditions including acne, rashes, psoriasis and eczema flare-ups
  • Constant fatigue despite getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • ‘Down’, depressed or sad emotions, irritability
  • Candida or yeast overgrowth
  • Weight loss due to lack of an appetite or cravings causing weight gain due to poorly absorbed nutrients

How can we help our gut communicate best?

You can help heal your gut by providing it with what it needs to keep the necessary balance of good and bad bacteria.  This helps your gut take care of its biggest job – regulating digestion. That way, the gut’s messages to the body and mind are clear, efficient, and healthy.

How? It comes down to maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and high quality rest and supporting your gastrointestinal health with both prebiotics and probiotics!

Prebiotics vs Probiotics – What’s the difference?

Probiotics

These are the healthy, “good” bacteria that naturally live in the colon of our digestive systems. When consumed in the right amounts, probiotics can have great benefits to our health overall. Once in the colon, probiotic bacteria multiply, helping to regulate the balance between the good and bad bacteria that live there. You might be familiar with certain kinds of probiotics, as there are a few that have specific health benefits like Lactobacillus acidophilus.  Diversity of gut bacteria is what keeps us healthy, that’s why it’s important to consume a variety of different strains.

There are a variety of natural food sources for probiotics, largely found in fermented foods. A few fantastic choices for probiotics are:

  • Kimchi
  • Unpasteurized sauerkraut – natural, made with salt not vinegar
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Pickles

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that help probiotics grow and remain in your digestive system.  They’re known as “food” for your good bacteria.

Less information has been publicized about where you can find prebiotics, but that could be because you’ve been eating them this whole time! Prebiotics are a non-digestible fibre source that’s plentiful in lots of raw foods:

  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions (which still contain prebiotics once cooked)
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Jicama
  • Under-ripe bananas

Taking probiotics alone is a good beginning.  We want to encourage the colonies of bacteria to grow and support a healthy gastrointestinal system.  That’s why it’s important to eat prebiotics also to ensure that the probiotics can multiply and do their work effectively.

Consume a combination of prebiotic and probiotic foods on a daily basis, to help replenish and maintain a healthy digestive system for overall health.

Is a supplement necessary to have enough prebiotics and probiotics?

Getting your nutrition from whole foods is always the preferred route to optimal health, but sometimes you need a little help. In that case, look for:

Prebiotic supplements: Prebiotics are actually really easy to get in a well-balanced diet, and due to the nature of the fibre they contain, that’s really the best way to get them. If you are looking for a little extra push, try using chicory root as a coffee substitute, or using a powdered acacia gum (gum arabic) in a morning smoothie. Having these kinds of foods in your diet can assure you that your gut bacteria is well fed and well cared for.

Probiotic supplements: You should be looking for a supplement containing CFU (Colony Forming Units) in the billions. The generally recommended dose can vary between 30 to 150 billion CFUs per day, taken in up to four doses. To maintain diversity of gut bacteria, aim to supplement with different stains of good bacteria.

How long should I take probiotics?

You can safely stay on probiotics indefinitely.  We definitely recommend them if you’re on, or coming off of: antibiotics, the birth control pill or radiation treatment.

If you choose to supplement, remember to take it at breakfast when the bacteria have the best chance of surviving the acidic environment of the gut. Whether or not supplementation is a regular part of your supplement regimen remember that taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics is one of the best ways to ensure your full and healthy recovery from the inside out.

Just as we take care of our muscles and our minds by feeding them the things they need to stay strong and healthy, so too must we take care of our “second brain”, our gut health, by feeding it what it needs to perform in optimal health.

Prebiotics and probiotics are the two primary ways of keeping your digestion healthy, happy, and functioning optimally! Remember, while everyone can take prebiotics and probiotics, from children to pregnant people, to the elderly – everyone is unique.

We would love to help you determine which foods and supplements are best for you and your family. Please book an appointment to ask our naturopathic doctors for their recommendation of both the type and dosage that could be right for you.  We also offer many other options to improve your digestion.