For a long time now it’s been well known that the gut is full of bacteria, and that this is a GOOD thing! The bacteria that are useful are known a commensal or synergistic bacteria, and that’s because it’s a two way relationship; we provide them with a home, they help us breakdown food, synthesize nutrients like vitamin K2, and form the bulk of stools.
Imbalances occur where there is too much bad bacteria, yeast or parasites; resulting inflammation and production of toxins and gases causing pain, bloating, flatulence, reflux, constipation and/ or diarrhoea.
The concept of imbalanced gut flora is fairly well known now and it’s typically easy to remedy when you know how. However, the overgrowth of good bacteria is something that is seldom discussed.
Research indicates that somewhere between 60-90% of all IBS cases are caused by SIBO.
Commensal bacteria inhabit the large intestine and normally the small intestine has very few bacteria. SIBO is where the good bacteria in the large intestine grows up into the small intestine. This is problematic because the presence of bacteria in the small intestines causes malabsorption of nutrients and intolerance to certain carbohydrates leading to flatulence and general IBS-like symptoms.
SIBO is thought to be caused by a combination of several factors. Here’s just a few:
- low stomach acid or anti acid medication
- poor diet and eating patterns
- food poisoning
How Will I Know If I have SIBO?
Currently, the best way to find out is to do a lactulose breath test. It’s not a perfect test, as like many tests a negative result can be incorrect (false negative). However, a positive result is a good indication. It is not diagnostic however, currently in the UK we do not have access to a test that is completely accurate and reliable.
The FODMAPs diet is short-term diet that can alleviate symptoms of SIBO. If you respond well to this diet, it may be an indication that you have SIBO. However, the diet does not solve the problem and should not be followed long-term or without supervision by a health professional.
How Is SIBO Treated?
There are three key ways of address SIBO. In my clinical experience a combination of targeted herbs and diet over the course of 1-3 months if the most effective approach in most cases. The best approach depends on the type of SIBO you have and your medical history.
We offer SIBO testing her at Louise Digby Nutrition. We’ll arrange the test for you, which you can do no matter where you are in the UK or Europe. The results typically take around two weeks and we would then take you through our gut healing programme once we have these results.
We work with our client either in our Braintree clinic or via Skype.