Trivia: How many brain cells are found in our gut?
(Hint: It's bigger than the amount found in the spinal cord)
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Answer: Over 100 million(!) No wonder it has a mind of its own ..
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Today, the final installment in a short series about SIBO
Part I covered what SIBO is and highlighted the amazing set of janitors that work overtime to keep our small intestines neat and tidy. They have a big job!
Part II discussed the primary and secondary symptoms of SIBO, along with its ties to other conditions
Part III offered some food for thought about the common causes of SIBO. Everything from faulty ileocecal valves to some bummer news about your favorite nightcap
Part IV reviewed SIBO's signs and symptoms, along with a simple plantain flour test you can take at home
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Back to Basics
I get it. Once you've been diagnosed with something, you think “Ack! Please, just tell me how to fix it”
But beautiful houses are built on strong foundations, and if we aren't taking care of the fundamentals, then it will be next to impossible to treat SIBO (or any other condition). Things like drinking enough water, managing stress, deep breathing, feeding ourselves well, and getting enough sleep.
Also, remember to get out and enjoy the sunshine, that laughter is the best medicine, and to always keep everything ..
moving (both body and bowel)
(Video credit: YouTube: Boys & Toys Reviews)
Low FODMAP Diet
When recovering from SIBO, changing your diet is a must and one of the best to follow is the Low FODMAP diet. It's definitely on the limited side, but never fear, nothing is forever
It isn't specifically designed for SIBO, because it doesn't eliminate all grains or starchy veggies. But with a little modification, it's a wonderful baseline. The key is keeping fermentable carbohydrates to a minimum as you work through the challenges. Avoiding things like starch, fiber, sugar, and also some forms of prebiotics and probiotics
If I Only Change My Diet, How Long Will It Take To Recover?
It's definitely possible to overcome SIBO with diet alone, although the timeframe is longer than most people want to endure .. a year-and-a-half to three years (or more)
Based on the damage, the lining of our gut needs time to restore itself. The turn-over rate of cells in our digestive system is about a year and a half .. so it will take at least that long, if not longer before you'll be able to properly digest all foods
Moving Right Along
After changing your diet, the next areas to focus on are proper digestion and how to keep everything moving through you as it should. There are some very basic things that will help
First thing in the morning, a cup of weak coffee or hot green tea. Bitters in hot water are a very common remedy in Europe. Also a large glass of warm water (again, shortly after waking up). Bonus points if you add lemon juice, cayenne pepper, ginger or turmeric
Getting regular exercise
Increasing the amount of water you're drinking, along with lots of plant-based foods on your dinner plate
Magnesium (400 mg/day)
Digestive Enzymes are a godsend
Rebuild and Repopulate the Gut
Once you've changed your diet and are starting to see some improvement in digestion .. it's time to add good bacteria and supplements to rebuild your gut's lining. A few to consider
Sibiotica – Is a SIBO friendly probiotic that includes the following (and very helpful) strains: Lactobacillus Casei, Bifidobacterium Breve, and/or Lactobacillus Plantarum
L-glutamine and zinc are really good for rebuilding the gut's lining
Perm A Vite – Also for rebuilding the lining of your gut. A recommendation from my Naturopath instructor and is what I've been taking 3x a day for the past few months. It tastes awful but works wonders. In fact, I've noticed that a few of my food sensitivities have completely gone away(!)
Betaine HCL/with Pepsin combination – To help not only with breaking down food but also to maintain proper bacteria levels in the small intestine
(Video credit: YouTube: Paramount Movies)
Preventing A Relapse
You've changed your diet, improved digestion, helped your body keep everything moving right along, and offered extra support for gut repair. You're feeling a million times better and have even started eating some of your favorite foods again. A few helpful tips to keep from relapsing
Realize the SIBO has a very high rate of relapse and you'll have to stay vigilant. Especially if you haven't addressed the underlying issues that led you to this place. (Not a judgment, I'm here too. While my doctor says SIBO was a result of Celiac Disease, in my twenties and thirties I had a very poor diet and my weight yo-yo'd up and down. I certainly didn't lay a foundation for success)
Eat some fermented foods every day to keep your microbiome happy and healthy
Stick to a reduced carbohydrate diet with a focus on plant-based foods, quality proteins, and healthy fats
Continue to support digestion with enzymes, and some of the tricks covered earlier to
Have follow-up testing done (at least) once a year to make sure you're still on track, although I'm sure you'll recognize the symptoms well in advance
Use the tips and tricks covered earlier to guarantee proper bowel movements
Which is Better, a Conventional or Natural Approach?
It's definitely something to discuss with your healthcare provider. For me, a combination of both has worked wonders
If you follow a path of conventional medicine, your doctor will prescribe a round of antibiotics to specifically target the bad bacteria. Neomycin or Rifaximin are two that are common. Once they're finished, more than likely your symptoms will return because the underlying cause hasn't been addressed.
This is what happened to me. I felt amazing for the two weeks I was taking Rifaximin, but within a week of being without it, I felt like I was back at square one. Knowing there was deeper work I needed to do, I reached out to my Naturopathic doctor for advice, along with a local dietitian who helped me identify and target specific micronutrients the SIBO and Celiac had left me deficient in
For the past few months, I've been (for the most part) following the low FODMAP diet, taking Perm A Vite for gut repair, and specific supplements to fill in the gaps where I was deficient (a B-complex, zinc, and magnesium). To help with symptoms of bloating, I've taken a round of Rifaximin every few months and a combination of Dysbiocide and FC-Cidal in-between
It's been four or five months since I started on my own journey to recover from SIBO. I feel so much better. My body is finally letting me lose some weight (about 15 pounds!) and it makes my heart happy to be able to go for long walks in the afternoon again
Where do we go from here?
As this series draws to a close, my sincerest wish is that the information will give you a jumping off place to explore the topic on your own. That it's offered some food for thought or sparked additional questions that you can now talk about with your doctor, nutritionist, or healthcare professional
As always, thank-you for reading. I'm so appreciative of the community of people who stop by The Veggies every now and again. I hope it's of service to you. Whether it's a new recipe, some food for thought, or just a small bit of happiness to
brighten your day
References used for this series can be found here