What is SIBO?
SIBO is short for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, and is a condition where too much bacteria, which is supposed to reside in the large intestine, starts to overflow into the small intestine.
At that point your body has lost its ability and its power to fend those bacteria off and keep them balanced in the body, because you need them.
The average human has upwards of 70 trillion… trillion, friends inside their body–good bacteria that is helping to digest and absorb food, and giving you nutrients.
But if you get too many of them, it can create many symptoms, such as:
- Pain in the stomach, especially after eating
- A regular feeling of fullness, even though you’re hungry
What can cause this overgrowth of bacteria?
pH changes in the body
This is primarily driven by pH changes in the body. And that means there’s not enough stomach acid because the stomach acid’s job is to weed out the bacteria that’s coming into the body via food.
If you don’t have enough stomach acid, the bacteria doesn’t get filtered, and it makes its way all the way down into your small intestine. Then we get an overgrowth–things start growing in your small intestine that shouldn’t be growing. So pH changes can affect this, primarily driven by not enough stomach acid.
Compromised immune system
The second thing that can cause this is just a pure compromised immune system.
Now this is traditionally driven by leaky gut inside of your gut lining.
If you put your hands together, fingers clasped tight to create a seal, that is what is supposed to be between your stomach and small intestine. The small intestine’s job is to let in what needs to be let in (nutrients) and keep out the toxins (bacteria that shouldn’t get in).
Well, there’s permeability issues with the way that we eat, the amount of inflammation that we take in, chemicals like glyphosate and foods like gluten that start to make us more permeable than we should be.
That allows things to get in that shouldn’t get in. It’s a compromised immune system and it breaks down the mucosal lining of the gut that is keeping the bacteria at bay.
A third cause of this is low motility, which means you’re just not moving things through the digestive tract. This is usually caused by the nerves or muscles in the gut not working in a coordinated way.
When food stays in the gut, things are moving slower, you’re constipated, you’re backed up, your food isn’t getting fully digested, or you don’t have enough enzymes in there, and it’s not allowing things to move through. This causes excess fermentation, excess bacteria growth and multiplication.
The last factor that could be causing SIBO is yeast. Yeast can actually overgrow, and knock down the good bacteria that are keeping the balance inside of your system.
This yeast overgrowth, candidiasis, can also contribute to SIBO so now you’re getting a bacterial overgrowth and a yeast overgrowth at the same time, and the microbes are having a party in the gut.
To really know for sure if you have this issue, you can have a breath test done and it’ll measure the amount of gasses that these bacteria are giving off–methane and hydrogen. Eating some sugar will feed the yeast overgrowth some food, then you breathe in and you can see how much there is.
What you can do about it
Clean up the nutrition
I am a huge proponent of “do what you know to do” first. Before you spend a bunch of money on doctor’s tests, the first thing we know to do when it comes to SIBO is clean up the nutrition.
We’ve got to cut the sugar from the diet. It’s one of my five main guidelines when it comes to how you eat.
No matter what diet choice you make, you have got to decrease the sugar… the breath test I mentioned above? They literally feed you sugar first because they know that bacteria will eat it fast.
Then they’re going to start going to the bathroom, which is the hydrogen and methane gas that they let off. And that’s how you can tell if you have too much of it going on inside your system.
You can also incorporate intermittent fasting or rotational fasting, which means you’re challenging your body to go periods of time not eating, which will cut off the food supply and allow some of those bacteria and some of those little soldiers inside your body to go to work.
If you cut your food supply down, you’re going to win the war, because those bacteria will be weakened and they’ll begin to die off.
Apple Cider Vinegar
The second thing I advise is apple cider vinegar.
That will add more acid to the stomach. If you suspect you have SIBO, try adding one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar taken morning and night. This will also help lower your insulin levels, which is going to help deal with sugar intake better.
This is also going to add more acid to the stomach, which will kill off the bad bacteria, so it doesn’t make it down into your gut.
I recommend doing that for a two to four week period of time to see how you respond. If you’d like a better cue, you can just do a capful of it with each mea.
lIf you can’t stand the taste of apple cider vinegar, you should try our Metabolism and Hormone Support which has a powdered form of ACV for easier intake.
Prebiotics are the food, Probiotics are the good bacteria that your body needs, and Postbiotics are what they excrete to help the lower digestive tract function at an even higher level. All three are absolutely needed for a healthy gut.
However, sometimes if you take just a probiotic, it might irritate the gut a little bit. In most cases, proper soil based pre-, pro-, and postbiotics will be protected past the acid, get into your small intestine and balance things out.
If they do irritate the gut a bit more, you have a lot of bacteria in there, and even putting in a prebiotic or probiotic might tip them over the edge, because there’s already too much going on.
I would not use a probiotic at that point. You have to see how your condition responds to it. Some people do well with it and others do not. Test it for yourself and see how your body responds.
Reduce Your Fiber Intake
The next thing you can do is to reduce the fermentation inside of your gut, or reduce the consumption of the food that’s producing the gasses in the gut.
The best way to do this is to reduce your fiber.
So you may do a fiber fast, which is very simple. Just cut down on foods like:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage)
This may seem to intuitively go against what we know is to be healthy, but it’s just to cut the fiber out for 10-14 days.
This will allow the gut to clear out, so there isn’t too much bloating.
The fifth thing you can try is a more carnivore way of eating.
You won’t usually hear me go all in on one type of diet. I prefer to use general health guidelines.
However, if you do a carnivore diet, you are cutting out the sugars, cutting out fibers and you stop feeding any form of carbohydrates or starches to these bacteria. And carnivore eating is really a way to just get rid of any of this bacteria that’s inside the small intestine. So you may just go more of a meat, protein type diet for a period of time.
I think it’d be worth a try, especially if you’re suffering.
Another thing you can try is oregano. I would consider the powdered form of oregano. Leaves and stems are better than oregano oil for busting up and breaking down some of that bacteria.
That would be a good herbal antibiotic of sorts. I added monolaurin into ours because that helps to support the immune system, in case it is an immune system related condition.
And finally, you may need to address yeast and candida.
We have other resources on this page for that, but those are your steps for getting SIBO under control.
There are many things you can do to be proactive with SIBO. I give you this info and these resources, so that you can be your own solution.
My hope is to help make health simple for you.