Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a condition where essentially some of the bacteria that should mainly be housed in the colon, or large intestine, migrates and proliferates in the small intestine, causing unnatural fermentation which leads to the symptoms listed above. Besides being uncomfortable, SIBO actually causes damage to the cells lining the walls of the small intestine (known as the mucosa), and can prevent proper digestion of food and therefore the digestion of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
There are several factors that can cause disruptions in the GI tract. The top three include:
- Low stomach acid (this is needed to kill off bad bacteria, toxins and pathogens)
- Slow motility in the small intestine (bacteria can hang out for longer than necessary, supporting overgrowth)
- Dysbiosis (an imbalance of the beneficial and overgrowth bacteria, ie. too little “good” bacteria or too much “bad” bacteria)
There are some food, lifestyle and supplemental support to help unravel SIBO. For instance, there’s a big gut-brain connection, so stress management is a big component in correcting gut issues. Killing off some of the “bad” bacteria can be done through antimicrobial herbs, which our nutritionists will guide you on. There are also some special dietary guidelines that can reduce and manage symptoms of bloating, gas, constipation and more. Once your SIBO is under control, you can potentially bring back some of these foods more comfortably.
- Practice stress management—i.e. walks in nature, meditation, gentle yoga.
- Avoid eating between meals.
- Aim to wait at least 12 hours overnight before eating your first meal of the day.
- Support your vagus nerve with exercises (you can check them out online), do castor oil packs (questions about this? Ask us!), try humming in the car, and more.
- Add in some neutraceuticals, herbs and supplements like ginger, 5-HTP, and bitters with meals to stimulate a healthy digestion.