Have you ever thought that you may have SIBO, but really don’t know what to look for? Or maybe you have been told (or just assumed) you have IBS and have to just live with it, because no other options have been presented to you? You’re in luck because we are going to be doing a series of blog posts on SIBO to answer all of your questions! (And understand why IBS and SIBO are linked!)
So let’s start with the basics, what is SIBO?
SIBO, also known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, is confusing to say the least. SIBO is a condition where bacteria move from the large intestine (where they should be) to the small intestine (where they shouldn’t be). Yikes! There are many ways and reasons that this can happen – a physical abnormality such as an ileus or GI blockage, antibiotics, anesthesia, pain killers, and viral infections (aka “tummy bugs”) are all very common causes.
So what happens when these bacteria end up where they shouldn’t be? When there are more bacteria than there should be in the small intestine, they ferment the carbohydrates we eat and release gas as a by-product of the digestion process. This is especially true for a certain group of carbohydrates called highly fermentable carbohydrates, or FODMAPs. This is why many people with IBS are advised to begin a low FODMAP diet – it helps to remove the food source for these misplaced bacteria, helping to relieve symptoms. Overgrown bacteria in the small intestine also eat some of the micronutrients from our food, which is bad for our micronutrient levels since they are absorbed into our bloodstream in the small intestine. Together, these can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Brain fog
- Fatty stools
Those symptoms… kind of sound like IBS, right? Well, research shows that up to 15% of people have SIBO, and it’s now believed to be the leading cause of IBS! However, because the symptoms are also indicators of a number of other problems, you can only be sure you have SIBO if you take a test.
So you may be wondering, what does testing look like? We will tackle that question in our next blog post, so stay tuned!