[From Healing the Gut]
SIBO — Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth — indicates that the small intestine is damaged. There are a lot of possible causes, such as repeated stomach flus. Once damaged, its ability to absorb nutrition is compromised, so carbohydrates are more likely to stay in it and ferment, feeding bacteria. (Unlike the colon, the small intestine isn’t supposed to have a lot of bacteria, whether good or bad). When bad bacteria overgrow, they give out toxins that further damage the membrane. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s likely that SIBO is a factor in a number of digestive diseases. There is an epidemic of them today due to our degraded food supply, with GMOs, artificial ingredients, insecticides, and other pollutants that our body doesn’t recognize or know what to do with. It’s now theorized that the particular dominant strain of bad bacteria that has overgrown determines the particular disease that results; for example, one for Crohn’s, another for ulcerative colitis.
SIBO can also contribute to obesity. A fascinating recent news story told of a formerly thin woman who received a fecal implant from an otherwise healthy but obese donor, and she became obese, too.
I wonder whether SIBO contributes to my GERD (acid reflux), as the gas created by the fermentation rises up and pushes open the esophageal valve. My symptoms have abated since I’ve been on this protocol.
SIBO can also be a factor in many conditions that don’t obviously concern the gut, such as insomnia and some forms of autism, and mental health issues such as depression. I have a friend who links her periodic depression with bloating. Everything in the body and mind is connected to everything else, which is why a holistic approach to health is essential.
The most definitive way to determine whether you have SIBO is to get a hydrogen breath test, although if you have bloating, a lot of gas, and other digestive problems, there’s a good chance that you do.