According to some statistics and surveys between 5 and 15% of people who can be considered healthy have SIBO symptoms. In addition, 8 out of 10 individuals who are dealing with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) have SIBO. People, who claim that they have bowel problems, feel bloated and uncomfortable regardless of the food they consume, often have SIBO.
What Exactly is SIBO?
SIBO is a term used to describe excessive growth of bacteria located in the small intestine. When the gut is functioning in a proper way, the number of bacteria that dwell in this area is very small. On the other hand, the number of bacteria located in the large intestine is much higher.
When the food starts going down the digestive path it enters the small intestine where it is dissolved into smaller pieces and this is the area where the nutrients are absorbed.
After that, the food goes to the large intestine where it is exposed to more bacteria and this is where the gut absorbs water again and concentrates the rest of the food and prepares it for the stool.
People with SIBO experience unusually high level of bacteria in the small intestine. If everything is normal, these bacteria should be located in the large intestine. The excessive bacteria fed with food residues in the small intestines before the food is fully dissolved and nutrients absorbed. Their feeding leads to aches, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and gases.
The excessive growth of bacteria also leads to inflammation that has negative effects on the small intestine’s lining. This is the reason why we experience lowered absorption of specific nutrients including vitamin A, D and B12 and higher intolerance to foods and inflammation in different body parts.
What Leads to SIBO?
There are many different reasons why the number of bacteria that naturally dwells in the small intestine increases. Some of the causes of SIBO include use of birth control pills, use of antibiotics, antacid drugs, drinking high amounts of alcohol regularly and low amount of stomach acid.
SIBO Symptoms – How is SIBO Detected and Diagnosed?
The basic test for determining the presence of SIBO is breath testing. This test assesses the amount of methane and hydrogen created by bacteria which is released from the lungs.
In order to conduct this test, people drink a liquid based on lactulose. This is actually a sugar that can be dissolved only by bacteria. When the bacteria “eat” lactulose, they create a gas which can give us a clear view of the presence of methane and hydrogen in the system. Another test that can diagnose SIBO is the glucose breath test. But, this test is only effective for determining the level of bacteria in the first couple of feet of the small intestine because this is where glucose is absorbed.
How to Deal with SIBO?
If you have any of the SIBO symptoms, you must find a way to stop and eliminate the excessive growth of bacteria in this part of the digestive system. Conventional doctors rely on pharmaceutical antibiotics, while naturopathic doctors rely on natural antibiotics based on herbs.
There are many different remedies, but most of them contain allicin (found in garlic), oregano, berberine, extract from olive leaves and other similar herbs with strong antimicrobial properties.
Another thing that is important when SIBO symptoms are detected is to weaken the defense mechanism of bacteria known as biofilm with the help of supplements (NAC) and specific enzymes.
A change in a diet is necessary because in this way we can deprive bacteria from food and weaken the symptoms when we are eliminating them. Many experts advise people to use low FODMAP diet – a diet based on low quantities of fermentable foods. Another good diet for SIBO is the Specific Carb Diet.
Once the treatment is finished, you should perform the breath tests once again in order to be certain that the problem is gone. After that, you should use probiotics in order to help your bowels to get populated with proper amount of good bacteria. In addition, use L-glutamine protein to heal the lining.
SIBO tends to return in more than half of the patients, so it is crucial to regulate your eating habits and patterns and remove all the things that can lead to SIBO.