Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a digestive condition that occurs when bacteria accumulate in the small intestine, causing a range of unpleasant symptoms:
- abdominal pain
- diarrhea; and
- vitamin & mineral deficiency (usually ferritin & B12)
Unfortunately, it can be hard to find a SIBO knowledgeable practitioner which often leads to self diagnosing, self treating or SIBO being misdiagnosed. So many times I’ve heard “I’ve spent thousands of dollars and nothing has worked”, “I’ve been trying to get rid of this for years” and “I’m so tired of feeling bloated every day”.
Even when diagnosed, SIBO can be a stubborn condition to treat, as the overgrown bacteria can persist even with dietary changes and antibiotics if the underlying cause isn’t addressed.
If you’ve ever said “I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work”, here are five reasons you don’t feel better from your SIBO treatment:
Your Antimicrobials/Antibiotics Protocol Was Too Short
Most people expect to feel completely better after just one round of antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials but unfortunately, you may need multiple rounds to clear the bacteria. Each round of antibiotics/antimicrobials reduces gas levels by about 30 ppm. If your SIBO test shows gas levels peaking in the 60, 80s or higher, you are going to need multiple rounds of antibiotics or herbal antimicrobials. For the record, each round of antibiotics is 10 to 14 days and each round of herbal antimicrobials is 4 weeks.
You Haven’t Addressed Constipation
If constipation is your main GI struggle, getting the bowels moving- and keeping them moving!– during your SIBO treatment is imperative to your success. Magnesium is the tool I often start with when troubleshooting constipation but you may also need additional help from motility agents (herbal or prescription), fibre support, pelvic floor training and creating a morning toilet routine.
Your Sympathetic Nervous System is Over Activated
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, the other being the parasympathetic nervous system. When the brain perceives a threat, it activates the sympathetic nervous system, which then triggers a series of physiological changes throughout the body. This response is designed to prepare the body for a quick and effective response to danger, either by fighting or fleeing. This “fight or flight” response marks digestion as a non-essential activity, moving blood flow away from your GI tract and into your muscles, lungs, and brain.
Many people are stuck in the sympathetic nervous system state most of the time. What this means for your SIBO treatment is that as soon as you finish your antibiotic or antimicrobial regime, relapse can happen quickly because proper motility of the gut isn’t happening. This can be a hard pill to swallow (pun intended) because if you’re a high achieving, super organized person who’s “on it” all the time, you thrive in that feeling of getting things done. Letting go of that buzzing energy you get from killing your to-do list…it’s tough but necessary if your SIBO treatment isn’t working.
Your Nutrition Isn’t Supporting Your SIBO Treatment
What diet you use during SIBO treatment- low FODMAP, SIBO specific, low fermentable- does not improve the efficacy of your treatment. Diet alone does not cure SIBO, it just makes you more comfortable during treatment by reducing gas and bloating. That doesn’t mean your diet doesn’t matter though. Here is what is most important for your nutrition when going through SIBO treatment: that you are eating in a way that supports good motility. The root cause of SIBO is a motility issue in the small intestine. So eating to support motility is essential. This means:
- Eating at consistent meal times most days
- Eating balanced meals
- Allowing at least 3 hours in between meals
- Modifying the texture of your foods so that your meals move quickly through the GI tract; and
- Focusing on good chewing techniques
It’s Not Just SIBO
SIBO is only one type of dysbiosis that can get set up in the gut. Other types of dysbiosis are: not enough beneficial bacteria, fungal overgrowth, parasite infection or overgrowth of ”bad” bacteria in the large intestine. Personally, I’ve never worked with someone who only had SIBO. Most often they need full gut microbiome restoration in order to truly feel better.
If you’re struggling with stubborn SIBO, book a connection call and we’ll have a chat about what you’re experiencing, what you’ve tried and if my 1:1 program might be able to help you.