Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Good digestion is a cornerstone of optimal health. Therefore, before we dive into what SIBO is, let’s quickly review the a simplified explanation regarding the process of digestion:
Mouth - food begins it’s initial breakdown in your mouth by the action of chewing along with enzymes that are present in your saliva. Your brain is also sensing the scent and flavors of the food which triggers the release of digestive enzymes into your stomach.
Stomach - after chewing and swallowing, the food moves down your esophagus into your stomach. Digestive enzymes are released into the stomach and work to break down food into tiny nutrient molecules. Once the food has finished it’s breakdown in the stomach (about 40-120 minutes) it will move down your GI tract into your small intestine which will trigger additional digestive enzymes be released.
Small intestine - now that the food (which at this point should be mostly broken down) is in the small intestine it will finalize it’s digestion into tiny nutrient molecules. These tiny molecules are then able to be absorbed through the lining of your small intestine into your bloodstream where they will then be shuttled off to be utilized by your cells, tissues and organs. Any leftover waste, such as insoluble fiber, pathogens and toxins will continue to move south into your large intestine so that they can be prepared for elimination from the body.
Large intestine (aka colon) - this is where the final phase of digestion and elimination occurs. The majority of the bacteria in your gut are located in your large intestine. They help to prepare all food waste, toxins, broken down hormones and pathogens to be eliminated from the body via stool (aka poop). You should have a smooth bowel movement at least once per day. Your stool should be easy to pass, well formed, sausage shaped, with no cracks.
When any dysfunction occurs along the digestive process as described above, it can lead to variety of digestive symptoms and other health implications.
Now onto the question at hand... What is SIBO?
As mentioned above, 99% of the bacteria in your GI tract live within your large intestine, with only a tiny percentage of bacteria residing within your small intestine. However, due to a variety of contributing factors, gut bacteria that should remain within your large intestine will sometimes make its way up into your small intestine. When this occurs it will cause significant problems with the proper digestion of meals and result in symptoms such a:
bloating (i.e. food baby)
These symptoms occur because the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine are having a “party” eating and fermenting away your partially digested meals. This “party” turns into gas (hydrogen & methane) which makes you feel bloated and gassy while also triggering inflammation within your GI tract and inhibiting your body’s ability to finalize the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. The bacteria especially love to feed off of foods like starchy carbohydrates, fiber rich veggies, grains, dairy, fruit and sugar. When you eat these foods you are essentially fueling their party and helping them to thrive and grow.
When digestion is inhibited and bacteria has overgrown in the GI tract you may develop other symptoms such as:
allergies & sinus congestion
skin rash, acne
This is because your immune system has been working overtime as it tries to squelch the bacterial overgrowth and inflammation within your digestive tract. Chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract leads to intestinal permeability (leaky gut) as well as contributes to food sensitivities and inhibits your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. When your ability to absorb nutrients is compromised, so will your ability to create new cells, hormones, neurotransmitters and tissues ~ leading to further health issues.
It is essential to your over-all health that you treat your SIBO as well as learn how to avoid it from coming back again so that you can sustain a healthy, happy, bloat free, symptom free life!
How can you determine if you have SIBO?
The best way to determine if you have SIBO is to take a 3 hour breath test that measures hydrogen and methane gases being released from within your small intestine.
How can you eradicate SIBO?
Bacterial overgrowth in the Small Intestine can be very challenging to address and eradicate. There is an abundance of information available on the internet regarding this condition, however, I have found much of it is conflicting and can make things even more confusing.
This is why I became a SIBO Certified Practitioner so that I can help give you the most accurate and streamlined information while developing a personalized SIBO protocol to fit your individual symptom presentation.
If you suspect that you have SIBO, or perhaps another type of bacterial overgrowth in your gut please don't hesitate to reach out to me. There are many things that we can do to address these imbalances to get you back to feeling your best!