Wholesome Dwelling: Is It IBS Or SIBO?
Digestive discomfort is the most common reason people visit my clinic.
People have usually gone through the basic exams with their GP, may have had a colonoscopy, and were considered with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – which means there is no known cause of your symptoms that we see can. Take symptom relief medication and try to relax. But IBS can be caused by many different microbes that live in our gut. The imbalance in these microbes leads to intestinal hyperpermeability – better known as a leaky gut.
The cells of your intestinal wall are held tightly together by gate-like structures, so-called tight junction proteins. These can be opened and closed as required – but must be precisely regulated. If the gates are left open, excessive amounts of toxins and undigested food will travel through them into the underlying tissues and bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory response. This can lead to local intestinal sensitivities, but it can spread to the rest of the body and cause pain, excessive mucus production, and skin conditions – depending on your genetic makeup.
If gas is the most common complaint, it could be because of SIBO. It stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. As with most of our chronic illnesses, this may be due to our western lifestyle. The always preferred caesarean section births, the lack of breastfeeding, the extensive use of antibiotics in connection with a refined, preservative-containing diet and stress are the perfect recipe for digestive and inflammatory conditions. Relieving symptoms of early signs of problems like antacids and more antibiotics can further worsen the fine microbial balance that should form the basis of the digestive system.
Failure of the gastric acid barrier in the stomach due to stress or acid-blocking drugs can also allow opportunistic bacteria to overgrow. Interesting to know that it also works the other way around; Diet-induced microbial overgrowth can affect the levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, causing indigestion, gas, belching, and absorption problems.
The hydrogen breath test is an established non-invasive test for assessing the malabsorption of sugars in the small intestine. However, there are patients who may suffer from the same spectrum of digestive problems but produce little or no hydrogen instead of producing relatively large amounts of methane. These patients avoid detection with the conventional test. And what if instead yeast becomes overgrown or parasitic amoebos become infected?
The best way to find out exactly what is growing in your internal environment is to do a comprehensive stool test and a combined breath test to measure both of the gases generated. (For more information on testing, please visit my website www.evahillnutrition.com.) Depending on the results, tailored antimicrobial interventions and specific dietary changes can put you on the path to healing. So don’t take it or suppress your symptoms – take responsibility for your health.