Updated: Aug 6
SIBO is a digestive disorder that is virtually unheard of. And yet, an astounding 84% of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) sufferers are thought to have SIBO.
Sadly, many doctors and gastroenterologists (not all) are unaware of it and unwilling to investigate.
That’s where nutritionists like me come in.
SIBO, pronounced ‘seebo’, stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Trillions of microorganisms live in the large intestine (colon), most of which are bacteria. In the right balance, they help keep us healthy; they have a remarkable impact on every aspect of ourselves, influencing anything from how our brain works to how easily we put on weight.
The small intestine, which follows on from the stomach, also naturally contains some bacteria but in considerably smaller numbers than the large intestine.
SIBO occurs when too much bacteria start to proliferate in the small intestine. They produce nasty gases and generally create havoc in your gut.
These bacteria aren’t ‘bad’ - they have either translocated from the large intestine (colon) or they are normal small intestinal bacteria that have grown out of control.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SIBO?
· Bloating after eating, especially after a carb-heavy meal (e.g pasta and bread)
· Intolerance to garlic and onions (reactions include gas, bloating and/or diarrhoea)
· Symptoms subside when you take antibiotics
· Constipation, diarrhoea or both
· Nutrient deficiencies e.g iron-deficiency anaemia and B12 deficiency
· Weight loss
· Brain fog
· Candida (thrush)
· Excessive gas
· Joint pain
· Lactose intolerance
If you have at least four of these symptoms, it’s very possible that you might be suffering from SIBO.
HOW DO I KNOW FOR SURE IF I HAVE SIBO?
SIBO can be diagnosed using a breath test, which is non-invasive and easy to do from your own home.
If you decide to do a test, I recommend the New South Wales-based laboratory, SIBO Test.
This lab also allows you to do the test if you live outside of Australia.
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY BREATH TEST COMES OUT POSITIVE?
When you order the test, you will be asked to nominate a practitioner that will help you interpret the results and put you on a treatment plan.
A typical SIBO-treatment plan generally includes:
1. A restricted diet that reduces availability of the bacteria’s favourite foods, i.e foods that contain certain types of sugar such as garlic, onions, most fruits, and grains.
2. High doses of natural herbal antimicrobials, or some people use antibiotics.
3. Gut healing and support of detoxification.
A good treatment plan will also address any underlying causes that led to SIBO in the first place, and this will help prevent in any future relapses.
BOOK ONLINE for SIBO consults.
EXAMPLES OF NATURAL ANTIMICROBALS USED FOR SIBO
Garlic extract (not the part that feeds bacteria)
CAN I RECOVER FROM SIBO?
If you have been suffering for a long time with SIBO you start to believe that you will never get better. In most cases, you will recover but you have to be strict with the diet and supplement plan.
People with certain other underlying health conditions, e.g autoimmune diseases, have an increased risk of relapses. But for most people, this is unlikely to happen.
Pimentel, M. (2003). Normalization of lactulose breath testing correlates with symptom improvement in irritable bowel syndrome a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. The American Journal Of Gastroenterology, 98(2), 412-419. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9270(02)05902-6