Digestive issues? You may have SIBO

Gut health info session

If you suffer from chronic gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or other digestive upsets, it may be more than Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It may be SIBO.

Ponoka Health Foods hosted Dr. Shane Johnson ND from Aspire Natural Medicine in Red Deer for an information night on gut health at their store April 17.

Johnson calls IBS a “junk diagnosis” as it basically means a person has a lot of symptoms with no known cause.

There is currently no great treatments or cure for IBS, says Johnson.

There are only drugs which can help control the spasms and “that’s about as good as we get,” he said.

SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.

SIBO happens when healthy bacteria in the large intestine migrate upwards and overpopulate the small intestine, damaging your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

The bacteria produce large amounts of methane and hydrogen gas, which in turn produce many unpleasant symptoms.

Medical conditions related to SIBO include IBS, skin issues such as acne and rosacea, hypothyroidism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, leaky guy, food sensitives or allergies, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease and autoimmune disorders.

“To us it’s all about the gut as naturopaths,” said Johnson, adding that 70 per cent of the body’s immune system is in the gut, so if there is a problem with the body, he looks at the gut first.

“Everything, in my opinion, is downstream from the gut.”

Things that slow down the bowels can cause SIBO, such as any surgery in the abdominal area, long-term use of stomach acid blockers, food poisoning or traveller’s diarrhea, or pain medication use that causes constipation.

The only way to properly diagnosis SIBO is with a three-hour home breath test that measure the gases the gut is producing. Stool samples will only indicate issues with the large intestines, not the small intestines, so it is not effective for diagnosing SIBO, says Johnson.

“Any stool test is not going to give you that answer.”

Treatment for SIBO usually includes eradication through antibiotics or herbs, a four-to-six week change in diet, and then a gut healing protocol.

In general, if you have a healthy gut, you will have a normal bowel movement at least once a day.

Ideally, since we eat three times a day, people should have bowel movements three times daily.

“We’ve lowered the bar to one time a day,” said Johnson.

“Anything less than one time a day, regardless of what the conventional world says, I say is not normal.”

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