What is SIBO?
SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. Leaky Gut or SIBO is a chronic bacterial “overgrowth” or infection within the small intestine. The bacteria that normally live in the gastrointestinal tract have become abnormally overgrown in a location not meant for so many bacteria. The issue is in part the absolute number of bacteria but moreover the lack of diversity of the bacteria.
- The bacteria interfere with our normal digestion and absorption of food. They can also be associated with damage to the lining or “membrane” of the small intestine resulting in “leaky gut”
- They consume some of our food, which over time leads to deficiencies in nutrients; e.g., iron and B12.
- After eating our food, they produce gas/expel flatus within our small intestine. The gas causes abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or both (the symptoms of IBS). Excess gas can also cause belching and flatulence.
- They decrease proper fat absorption by deconjugating bile, leading to deficiencies of vitamins A & D and fatty stools.
- Through the damaged lining, larger food particles not able to be fully digested enter into the body. The immune system reacts to this, causing food allergies/sensitivities.
- Bacteria themselves can also enter the body/bloodstream. Immune system reaction to bacteria and their cell walls (endotoxin) causes chronic fatigue and body pain and burdens the liver.
- Finally, the bacteria excrete acids which in high amounts can cause neurological and cognitive symptoms.
These issues can be both formatively diagnosed and effectively treated with a combination of lifestyle and medical therapies.