What is SIBO?

gut-bacteriaThere’s a lot of talk these days about the gut microbiome and ‘good bugs’ and ‘bad bugs’ kind of duking it out over who gets to rule your gut. While I agree that a healthy gut is key to avoiding many major diseases, I tend to think the good vs bad bacteria argument is over-simplified. I would argue that a very small percentage of gut bacteria is inherently bad for us. Most illness or inflammation in the gut comes from a lack of balance of these bacteria. One problem that results from this lack of balance is SIBO.

SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is a result of bacteria that is beneficial and needed in the colon migrating or overflowing into the small intestine. Symptoms are similar to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and my guess is that a lot of people with an IBS diagnosis really has SIBO. IBS is more of a list of symptoms, while SIBO is getting at the ‘why’ of the symptoms. Some of the symptoms associated with SIBO include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Environmental allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Itching and rashes

SIBO is diagnosed with a breath test in which you drink a fructose solution that gets the bugs in your gut actively feeding then breath into a tube every 20 minutes for 3 hours. Your breath is then tested for gases that area expelled by the bacteria. You’re basically flowing a billion little farts (out your mouth) into the tube. If what results has a high enough concentration of methane and/or hydrogen, you have SIBO.


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