SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or what we might refer to as Self Induced Bacteria Overgrowth, refers to a condition in which abnormally large numbers of bacteria are present in the small intestine, while the types of bacteria found in the small intestines are more like the bacteria found in the colon.

The small intestine is divided into 3 sections, with a surface area roughly the size of a tennis court. This area is covered in villi and microvilli designed to provide exceptionally efficient absorption of nutrients in the lumen (interior of the GI tract). The fact that the human body has invested that much length and interior space for absorption of nutrients shines a light on how crucial it is for survival.

There are many factors capable of breaking down the structure and the function of the digestive system, bacterial overgrowth being one. However, bacterial overgrowth is not a cause but an effect of hypothyroidism, or low metabolic function, being influenced by one or many chronic stressors in the environment. How this manifests in any one body (diabetes, scleroderma, etc.) is going to be specific to that individual, but the underlying cause is always the same- a breakdown in the metabolic system. As Diane Schwarzbien says, “you are your metabolism.”

 

Research has shown hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, severely affects the structure and function of the digestive system by decreasing peristaltic movement, and the production of digestive enzymes, essential to the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

A common example of this would be the effects of low thyroid on the recirculation and absorption of estrogen back into the small intestine. This interferes with proper detoxification and can lead to estrogen dominance and progesterone deficiency. Low progesterone causes a lack of regeneration of the microvilli in the small intestine, which then leads to a decrease in digestive enzyme production and a decreased ability to absorb nutrients such as lactose. So the question now becomes, is lactose intolerance really just another symptom of low thyroid function and its effects on the GI system?

Note: Take it from someone who was never able to drink dairy and can now drink a good 10-12oz a day (this is not including yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.). The more attention you place on healing your metabolism, and away from trying to “fix” your gut, the more successful you will be long term.

What contributes to SIBO?

As we have mentioned, a decrease in peristalsis and digestive enzyme production interferes with the body’s ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients from the food we eat.

If we are consuming foods the body cannot break down, whether it due to low digestive juices or because we are eating foods we humans were not designed to eat, what is going to happen?

Bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, vitamin and mineral deficiencies…anyone familiar with these symptoms?

Foods such as grains, beans, an excessive consumption of cruciferous veggies and leafy greens (particularly raw), lentils, breads, nuts and seeds, and alcohol are some of your leading offenders when it comes to foods responsible for increased bacterial overgrowth in the gut. This is where the whole question of “what’s healthy?” can get very obscured.

Prepared properly, and in a body with optimal digestive function, these foods might not be such huge offenders, but in a body with compromised digestion these foods are facilitating chronic inflammation and metabolic destruction.

We have an entire population of people willing to do anything to heal their gut. Supplements, labs, detoxes, elimination, as well as consuming a large amount of these offending, so called, healthy foods. What would happen if we began taking some of these foods out of the diet and replacing them with foods the body can digest, so we can increase nutrient absorption, reduce stress and inflammation and normalize gut bacteria?

What can you do to begin balancing your ecosystem?

To begin, we suggest you avoid the foods mentioned above or at least, greatly reduce the amount you are consuming and make sure your veggies are thoroughly cooked.

Limit the intake of polyunsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, nut and seed oils, fish oils.

Consume ripe, tropical fruits and/or seasonal ripened fruits.

Consume well-cooked root veggies in combination with healthy fats and proteins.

Increase consumption of bone broth.

Include a raw carrot or bamboo shoots into your daily regimen.

Eat regularly to help balance blood sugar.

If you would like to speak with Josh and Jeanne regarding your health & nutrition needs, or to schedule a private consultation, please contact us here.

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