If you think you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), there could be an explanation for your gut issues – a little known condition called SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
SIBO is just as it sounds, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, and it is often the root cause of IBS symptoms.
The good news is that while doctors often struggle to treat IBS as the cause is not always known, it is possible to test for and treat SIBO.
What is SIBO?
Your large intestine is host to trillions of bacteria, and they play an important role in the digestive process. Bacteria here are essential, and their balance can be impacted by poor diet, stress and antibiotics.
Small intestine plays a very different role in the process and should contain relatively low levels of bacteria compared to the rest of the digestive tract. Instead, it’s where food mixes with digestive juices and the nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.
When there is too much bacteria in the small intestine, it can cause poor nutrient absorption, and as a result, lead to many of the symptoms commonly associated with IBS.
Symptoms of SIBO
SIBO affects the nutrient absorption process as food passes through the small intestine, particularly fat-soluble vitamins and iron. As a result, the symptoms of SIBO are similar to other gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS:
- Weight loss
Natural remedies for SIBO
Antibiotics are often prescribed by doctors to treat SIBO and reduce the problem bacteria, however they also kill the healthy bacteria that is essential for good digestive health. Research has found that patients treated with antibiotics have a high recurrence rate, while natural remedies were as effective as three rounds of antibiotics.
As a Naturopath, I’m always focussed on treating the underlying cause of any condition, and SIBO is no different. It is a chronic condition that can be cured, however, treatment does take patience and perseverance.
Naturopathic treatment of SIBO is centred around correcting the root cause of the bacterial overgrowth as well as the growth itself, while providing nutritional support, particularly for those patients who have lost weight or are deficient in vitamins and minerals.
It involves three main steps:
Starve the bad bacteria and feed the good bacteria – we recommend cutting out sugar, alcohol, dairy and gluten, all of which bad bacteria feed on. Instead, focus on increasing your intake of low-carb vegetables, high-quality protein and good fats.
Clear the bad bacteria – we prescribe herbal antimicrobial medicines that are much gentler on your gut, but are just as effective at clearing the bad bacteria as antibiotics.
Correct your gut microbiome – take a high quality probiotic to increase the good bacteria in your gut, while increasing your intake of bacteria-friendly prebiotic foods such as garlic, asparagus, bananas, apples, oats, cacao, flaxseeds, seaweed and more.
Quick tip: It can also help your gut to consume smaller amounts of food more frequently – so instead of 3 meals a day, look to spread your meals out at 5-6 portions instead. By eating less at any one time, it allows your body to digest foods more quickly, which is critical for SIBO patients.
Supplements for SIBO
As SIBO can cause nutritional deficiencies, it’s often necessary to help patients recuperate with the aid of natural supplements. Helpful vitamins and minerals may include Vitamin B12, D, K, Iron and Zinc.
If you want more information or would like to book an appointment, please call us during business hours on (02) 4961 4075. We offer a free 15 minute chat with a Naturopath who can answer any questions you may have.
Did you know that natural health can help you manage and treat IBS?
Download our free guide on treating IBS naturally by clicking here