Many years ago at the beginning of my nutrition career, I worked for a chain of health & nutrition stores in Canada. I absolutely LOVED helping people find the right supplement for them to help them get relief from their chronic health issues.
It was like playing detective! I loved investigating their symptoms and digging deep into their dietary habits to figure out why they were experiencing their symptoms.
In my experience, it is usually because of one of the following primary reasons:
1. Toxicity within the body (too much of a bad thing)
2. Nutrient deficiencies (not enough of a good thing)
In the majority of cases, both of these imbalances are the result of a poor diet, toxic lifestyle and/or chronic stress over a significantly long period of time.
You are what you eat right?
But how do you explain consistent toxicity and/or nutrient deficiencies if you have recently transitioned from a poor diet to eating more clean, nutritious foods?
The answer usually lies in the state of your gut health BEFORE you decided to transition to eating cleaner and living healthier.
In this scenario, it is more a case of "you are what you absorb!"
If your gut health is struggling because of an overgrowth of bad bacteria and your intestinal lining is inflamed and porous, two things are likely happening:
1. You are likely struggling to absorb all of those healthy nutrients from the clean, nutritious foods you are eating; and,
2. You are likely absorbing more toxins into the bloodstream such as undigested food particles, bad bacteria, yeast and other foreign invaders.
When these two situations are allowed to happen, inflammation becomes rampant, food sensitivities start to appear and autoimmune conditions develop.
Plus, the liver becomes stressed with the overwhelming task of detoxification leaving you feeling exhausted, with out-of-control blood levels. Blood-sugar levels, cholesterol levels and hormone levels all become unbalanced and we then open ourselves up to even bigger health issues.
What About the Health of the Small Intestine?
You've probably already tried a probiotic supplement or eating more probiotic foods to try and improve the health of your large intestine (your colon/bowels) so you can get rid of excessive gas and constipation or diarrhea right? Because we know that this is where most of bad bacteria resides.
But, what about the health of the small intestine that is located just before it in the digestive tract? An area that typically has a low bacteria count in comparison to the large intestine?
The truth is, this is where the serious business of nutrient absorption happens before the waste products are sent through to the large intestine or bowel to be expelled.
So you can probably imagine, it's not a good thing if the good bacteria levels in this critical stretch of digestive highway fall out of balance. When this happens it is often referred to as "SIBO" which stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
Microorganisms that are allowed to grow out of control in the small intestine end up damaging the cells lining the intestinal wall. This then results in a condition known as leaky gut or intestinal permeability which you've probably heard me talk about before.
This, in turn, impairs the digestive process and leads to the two scenarios I first presented you with earlier in this blog post.
The most common symptoms of SIBO are:
Malabsorption issues and malnutrition
Weight loss (or gain)
Nausea and/or vomiting
Abdominal bloating or distention
Abdominal pain or discomfort
Acid reflux or heartburn (GERD)
Excessive gas or belching
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
Aches & pains, especially joint pain
As mentioned, one of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that essential nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats aren’t being properly absorbed, causing deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, calcium and in the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.
Who is at risk of SIBO?
Celiac disease is associated with an increased risk for developing SIBO, and can be of particular concern, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine.
Another common condition associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
In fact, studies have found that SIBO occurs simultaneously in more than half of all cases of IBS.
It has even been reported that successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine resolves symptoms of IBS too.
The use of certain medications, including immunosuppressant medications, and proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) as well as heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and as I mentioned above, stress - are all thought to be contributors as well.
How can you tell if you have SIBO?
Medical practitioners can test for SIBO by asking patients to drink a sugar-containing drink and then measuring the gases they exhale.
If there is too much bad bacteria, excess gases such as hydrogen and/or methane will be produced.
It should be noted that the reliability of this test is considered less than ideal, but it’s one of the only methods available at this time.
So if you think you have SIBO what can you do about it?
Most holistic health practitioners suggest following a strict dietary protocol that focuses on low-FODMAP, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic foods for at least 4 weeks alongside implementation of certain lifestyle changes. This may include:
Herbal "antibiotics", (oregano oil, tea-tree oil, etc.)
Stress management (relaxation techniques, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, etc.)
Repopulating the good bacteria using probiotic supplements
In more severe or persistent cases, a prescription antibiotic may be needed to get the overgrowth under control. But then probiotics should definitely be reintroduced after the course of antibiotics is complete to help repopulate the good bacteria that was wiped out along with the bad bacteria.
If you want to learn more about how you can re-balance your gut health using a proven, 3 phase, 6 step methodology called The ERASER Method, come on out and join us at the upcoming LIVE online workshop, "Get a Grip on Your Gut Health"! Click here to save your seat!
In this 90-minute workshop you’ll discover:
Why your gut health is so important to your overall health and longevity
Common symptoms of poor gut health to determine if you need to make changes
The hazards and common health issues associated with a leaky gut and how to identify if you are in the 80% of people who have it
How to identify your own individual food intolerances and learn how to live with them
The 3 phase, 6 step methodology that is proven to help the gut recover and rebalance to support strong physical and mental health for the long-term
All live attendees will also receive your very own Gut Repair Starter Kit! This excellent starter kit comes complete with a 7 Day Gut Repair Meal Plan including recipes and grocery list PLUS a your “Take the Heat Out of Heartburn & Acid Reflux” Strategy Guide.
Hurry! Spaces are limited! Click the image below to register and save your seat!
Fancy a tasty recipe to make your very own bone broth? Bone broth is absolutely LOADED with minerals and collagen to help heal the gut lining and reduce inflammation. I always make up a batch most weekends after we have finished our typical English roast Sunday dinner using my chicken carcass as the base.
Here is another one using beef marrow bones.....you can add bone broth to soups, stews or even drink it on it's own!
SIBO-Friendly Slow Cooker Bone Broth
* Note: no onions, leeks or garlic as these are considered High-FODMAP :)
2 lbs beef marrow bones, thawed, organic if possible
3 large carrots, unpeeled
1/2 medium celery root
combination of fresh “antibacterial” herbs: few sprigs of each - rosemary, oregano & thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tb apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized
¼ - ½ tsp himalayan pink or sea salt
Water (dilute to preference)
How to prepare:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Wash and chop veggies into large pieces - large enough that they won’t turn to mush.
Place your bones onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
Tie your herb sprigs into a bundle with cooking-safe string.
Once your bones have roasted, pull them out of the oven and put them directly into a slow cooker. Add the veggies and the herb bundle into the cooker with the bones.
Fill a 6-quart slow cooker with fresh water up to about ¾ inch under the rim. Add the bay leaves, ACV and salt.
Cook in your pot on low; you should have a gentle, rolling boil after an hour or so.
Remove the herbs after about 4 hours, otherwise your broth may look strange from the colors seeping out!
Remove the veggies once they’re very soft, but not yet mushy.
Let the bones cook for a total of 12-48 hours. Strain the broth, let cool a bit, and store in glass jars for up to ONE WEEK in your fridge. You can also freeze the broth if you don’t use it right away.
The appearance of a gel-like substance (natural gelatin) is normal and desired - enjoy the gut-friendly goodness!