Gut Dysbiosis and SIBO
Integrative and functional health professionals believe that the gut is the center of all health. In fact, Hippocrates even said, “all disease begins in the gut.” So, if all disease begins in the gut, it would make a lot of sense to keep our guts as healthy as possible? Gut dysbiosis and SIBO float around a lot these days. Learn more about both and how to avoid them.
As you probably know, our digestive tracts are full of all kinds of microbes: bacteria, yeast, even viruses. When our digestive tract is in a healthy balance, our bodies have lots of beneficial bacteria or “probiotics.” When our digestive tract is out of balance, it’s often low in good bacteria and the “bad guys” take over. Dysbiosis then occurs.
So, what causes dysbiosis? Well, several things (1): antibiotics, excessive alcohol consumption, stress and a poor diet.
Ok, so now that we know about dysbiosis, what the heck is SIBO (“see-boh”) and how does it link to dysbiosis?
SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It’s a specific type of dysbiosis. It’s an unnatural amount of bacteria growing in the small intestine (a place it doesn’t belong). This overgrowth of bacteria should only hang out in the colon (large intestine).
SIBO occurs for many reasons. Common causes include:
- Gastrointestinal conditions like IBS, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease
- Long-term use of acid-blocking drugs (often called “PPIs” or proton pump inhibitors)
- Excessive use of antibiotics
- Poor nutrient status (choline, taurine, magnesium and others)
- Poor gallbladder function (bile plays a role in digestion)
- History of bowel surgeries
- Impaired valve separating the small and large intestines (called the “ileocecal valve”)
So, how can you improve the condition of your gut?
- Cut down or eliminate added sugars: Added sugars sneak into products like sauces, condiments, cereals, breads, drinks, and more.
- Eat plenty of plants: By eating mostly plant foods (nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, beans, etc.), you will eat fewer highly processed foods.
- Talk to your doctor when you’re prescribed any medication: Ask the MD the cost-benefit comparison of taking the medication, especially if it is an antibiotic.
- Take a probiotic: Taking high quality probiotics helps improve the balance of good bacteria in the gut,essentially, bullying out the bad guys. Note: those with SIBO may need to consume and avoid certain strains of bacteria.
- Cut down/out alcohol: It’s not doing anything good for your gut.
- Manage stress and get sleep: Make sure that you prioritize some form of relaxation or self-care: massage, walking, meditation, deep breathing, etc. Be sure to breathe while you’re eating!!
Don’t be intimidated by the fancy terminology for gut health. Just remember the reasons why gut dysbiosis and SIBO occur. And remember the ways to get your gut back in shape.
- Myers SP. The causes of intestinal dysbiosis: a review. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9(2):180-97.