Are you complaining about bowel movements all the time? Constipation, diarrhea, not feeling good or feeling bloated after meals? SIBO could be the culprit!
On the Self-Care Goddess podcast episode #91, I had an informative conversation with Jen Yundt Coles, an AFMC certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, Integrative Nutrition health coach and acupressure expert who is a hydrogen sulfide SIBO survivor. Jen shares with us her self-healing journey and practical tips to overcome the revolving door of infections and help people live a life with more energy, clarity, and joy.
The following information are just a few of the golden nuggets from my insightful conversation. Listen to the entire episode here.
Introduction: SIBO & Its Impact on Digestive Wellness
Digestive health is paramount to our overall well-being. In this blog we will delve into the intricacies of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO, explore its impact on digestive health, distinguish it from related conditions like IBS and IBD, and discuss its root causes and symptoms. Additionally, we’ll shed light on the often-overlooked connection between SIBO and mental health, examine conventional treatment approaches, and unveil holistic strategies for managing and overcoming this chronic ailment.
I invite you to listen to podcast episode #24, “The Ultimate Guide to Optimize Your Wellness Today”, on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
Demystifying Digestive Disorders and Mental Health
Unlike the large intestine, where fermentation of food remnants by natural bacteria is normal, the small intestine should ideally remain free from overgrowths or opportunistic bacteria. This region is crucial for nutrient assimilation into the bloodstream and cells. Any overgrowth disrupts this delicate balance, leading to inflammation and hampering nutrient absorption.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a broad diagnosis, encompassing a range of symptoms without clear root causes. It’s a blanket term for when our bowels act unpredictably. Surprisingly, 60-80% of IBS cases are related to SIBO, indicating the importance of understanding the underlying issues. On the other hand, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) involves Crohn’s disease and different types of colitis, characterized by inflammatory dynamics impacting the intestinal immune system. While SIBO and IBD are not identical, they are often interlinked.
- Listen to your body to recognize SIBO. Bloating, especially after meals, is the most common symptom of SIBO. This discomfort typically arises 1.5 to 3 hours post-meal, with certain foods like cruciferous vegetables, dairy, and gluten acting as primary triggers. Other symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, or alternating between the two, along with excessive gas, heartburn, and acid reflux.
- SIBO’s toll on mental health is often underestimated. Feelings of depression and anxiety can emerge from the challenges of navigating social situations and uncertainty about bathroom access.
Check out the blog post from my amazing and truly inspiring conversation on episode #29 of the Self-Care Goddess podcast, “How To Build YOUR Resilience For Better Mental Health”.
3 SIBO types
SIBO encompasses three distinct types, each characterized by the dominant gas produced and the resulting symptoms:
- Hydrogen-Dominant SIBO: This is the most common type. It primarily leads to symptoms like diarrhoea. The overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine leads to an excess of hydrogen gas production, causing disruptions in the digestive process.
- Methane-Dominant SIBO: This form is caused not by bacteria, but by archaea, which are a distinct type of microorganism. When overgrown in the intestinal tract, it leads to constipation and a reduction in intestinal motility. This type is characterized by elevated levels of methane gas.
- Hydrogen Sulphide-Dominant SIBO: This type is considered to be more harmful systemically due to the release of hydrogen sulphide gas. It’s advised not to have this gas lingering in the body for extended periods as it can cause significant damage. Symptoms associated with hydrogen sulphide-dominant SIBO include: intense diarrhea, pronounced gas production resembling a tumultuous sensation in the stomach, and urgent bowel movements. If concentrated in the larger bowel, it can severely impair its functioning. Moreover, it disrupts the migrating motor complex, which is essential for proper bowel movements. This type of SIBO is also linked with symptoms such as skin rashes, a feeling of toxicity, heart palpitations, sweating, and sleep disturbances, which are more pronounced compared to the other two types.
“How Yoga Can Help You Detox – Mentally, Physically & Emotionally”? Listen to the Self-Care Goddess Podcast episode #25.
Causes, Treatment & Limitations
Food poisoning and antibiotic use are major catalysts of SIBO. The prevalence of antibiotics, along with over-the-counter medications, can disrupt the gut microbiome and inflame the intestinal lining. Additionally, factors like birth control pills, PPI use (PPI – Proton Pump Inhibitors are medicines that work by reducing the amount of stomach acid made by glands in the lining of the stomach), gallbladder removal, hypothyroidism and emotional imbalances can contribute to SIBO development. A holistic approach, considering both physical and emotional elements, is essential for effective management.
Conventional medicine typically prescribes a two-week course of antibiotics, with Rifaximin being the gold standard. However, this approach often falls short in addressing advanced biofilm layers that can hinder treatment effectiveness. Moreover, follow-up and addressing root causes are frequently overlooked in conventional treatment. According to research, up to 75% of individuals may experience a SIBO relapse within a year post-treatment. A more comprehensive, individualized approach is essential for sustained relief.
Listen to the Self-Care Goddess podcast episode #46, with Ysabel Viau, “10 Cancer Coping Strategies”, on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
Practical Steps for SIBO Management
Embarking on a journey towards improved digestive health begins with fundamental lifestyle adjustments:
- Mindful Eating: Embrace eating hygiene practices, such as chewing food thoroughly and avoiding excessive liquids during meals. This aids in optimal digestion.
- Stress Management: Prioritize stress reduction techniques to support your digestive system. Recognize the mind-gut connection and its impact on overall well-being.
- Nutrition and Diets: Experiment with various diets, but seek guidance to ensure you’re obtaining essential nutrients. Tailor your approach to your unique needs.
- Self-Advocacy: Take charge of your health by seeking proper diagnostic tests, like a SIBO breath test, and actively participate in your treatment plan.
- Boundaries and Self-Care: Establish firm boundaries and engage in non-negotiable self-care practices that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
These lifestyle tips and habits are not only effective but also completely cost-free. They’re incredibly easy to incorporate into your routine, starting as soon as your next meal.
Observing undigested food in your stool can be a sign of various issues, such as low stomach acid or impaired digestive enzymes. This may be due to inflammation in the gut or simply eating too quickly under stress. Recognizing this can prompt a shift in how you approach meals and support your digestive processes, whether through optimizing stomach acid or enzyme production. Additionally, considering parasite cleanses as a part of your health toolkit acknowledges that parasites coexist with us, and seeking total eradication may not always be necessary, simply balancing our symbiotic relationships with microorganisms is needed.
I invite you to read this blog post for a deeper dive into the 6 Pillars of Self-Care.
Take Home Message
SIBO is a multifaceted condition that requires a comprehensive approach. By understanding its nuances, addressing root causes, and implementing practical lifestyle changes, you can embark on a transformative journey towards improved digestive health and overall well-being. Remember, you hold the power to reclaim your vitality and lead a balanced, fulfilling life.
Being your own advocate, continuously asking questions, and managing stress are fundamental practices for self-care. While external resources and guidance are valuable, recognizing your innate power to nurture your body and mind is a crucial step towards holistic well-being.
Listen to the full podcast episode #91 on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
For free guided meditation videos and Breathwork demonstrations subscribe to my YouTube channel.
I look forward to connecting with you and learning more about your story and your health and wellness goals. Schedule a FREE introduction call here.