If you are addressing your leaky gut by following the 5 R’s and you’re not seeing much progress, it could be that you’re dealing with SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth. SIBO (pronounced SEE-bo) is one of the causes of leaky gut, but the two vary in treatment.
The most common symptoms of SIBO are:
- abdominal pain or discomfort,
- diarrhea and/or constipation,
- extreme burping and passing gas.
It tends to be under-recognized since it shares so many symptoms with other gastrointestinal disorders. We discuss symptoms with our clients at our functional medicine center in Tulsa, OK, and give them their personalized healing plan.
A Bit Of Background
The small intestine is a big part of the digestive tract. More than 20 feet long, it takes up most of the space in the abdomen. Above it, the stomach’s job is to mix chewed-up food with acid and start to break down the pieces of food.
After churning it up for a while, it goes to the small intestine. Then, it’s broken down further, and nutrients absorb into the bloodstream. Your body manufactures several nutrients here.
After all that acid treatment, there are tiny bacteria in the small intestine and only specific varieties, or at least, this is how it’s supposed to be. The main bacteria important to good health are a little further down in the colon (large intestine).
A one-way valve between the small and large gut – the ileocecal valve (ICV) – is designed to keep things moving forward. If the ICV gets damaged or stuck, digested material can go back into the small intestine. At this point, the normal colon bacteria, simply trying to do their job to keep us healthy, have been added to the mix.
But remember, bacteria, even the good kind, don’t belong in the small intestine. Its presence can set off an inflammatory cascade with far-reaching effects. Other digestive issues, of course, like GERD, leaky gut, IBS, hormone production, mood, and brain function can be affected.
What Circumstances Can Lead to SIBO?
Many circumstances can lead to SIBO, but the primary factor appears to be gastroenteritis (stomach flu) in your medical history. And who hasn’t had stomach flu at some point?
There are greater and lesser degrees of physical damage caused by these infections, so tummy problems don’t necessarily mean you’ll get SIBO. However, if your gut is sufficiently damaged, it will impair the intestines.
- The ICV could malfunction and cause a backup.
- Some of the carpet-like villi on the intestinal wall could become scarred and unable to absorb nutrients, leading to a fermentation problem and blowing the ICV.
- The gut flushing action that’s supposed to happen between meals might shut down (a housekeeping problem).
We Can Get to the Root of Your SIBO Symptoms
But whatever the cause, bacteria are typically considered a beneficial move to where it doesn’t belong. Instead of helping, it becomes a troublemaker.
If you suspect you have SIBO, there are functional lab tests that we can order as functional medicine practitioners in Tulsa, OK. If your practitioner identifies the pattern of SIBO, they can address it with a multifaceted approach. Most practitioners agree that must remove inflammatory foods must from the diet. Additionally, implementing a personalized protocol to rebalance gut health must be done.