Oh Dear, I’ve Tested Positive for SIBO – Now What?

May 9, 2018

Trivia:  How many brain cells are found in our gut?

(Hint:  It's bigger than the amount found in the spinal cord)

Photo Credit – NPR – Morning Edition- Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds

(This post may contain affiliate links)

Answer: Over 100 million(!)   No wonder it has a mind of its own ..

— — —

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 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

— — —

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

Photo Credit: Food52

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 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)

The Indian herb Triphala (1000 mg/day) .. it's great for bowel tone ( among other things )

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

xoxo

References used for this series can be found here

ps: This is Part V in a short series about SIBO. Parts I, II, III, and IV can be found .. hereherehere, and here

(Featured Image Photo Credit:  The Muppet Mindset) and (Gut Trivia – via Mental Floss)

You Might Also Like

25 Comments

  • Reply Zina May 9, 2018 at 4:12 am

    I don’t usually leave comments on blogs, but I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading the posts about SIBO. Take care and thanks for being so honest and open about all that is happening in your life, that takes a lot of courage

  • Reply Elaine May 9, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    When we go to restaurants, a few times I’ve asked for hot water. Sometimes I get strange looks. Other times they’ll bring me tea with the tea bag separate. It’s good to know the health benefit of bitters! These are great recommendations. I know things changed for me when I added Magnesium to my regiment. It’s such an important element to so many processes in our bodies. xx

  • Reply Jhilmil Bhansali May 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    With over 100 Mn cells in gut, I would have had the same reaction when I found myself detected with SIBO. And you know what was the first thing I thought, I would go back and pen down your whole series of diet for SIBO / during Gut inflammation. I have been studying a lot about Natural and alternative therapies than conventional medicine and going by the food way is a great thing.

  • Reply Sabrina Must May 9, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    As someone who tries to be really health conscious, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

  • Reply Elizabeth O May 9, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    This was a really informative post. It is definitely going to help anyone else out who is suffering with SIBO try and figure out how to go about living the best life they can.

  • Reply David Allen Elliott May 9, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    That is so great Ali that you have been able to make great strides since getting yourself on a regular diet and regimen. I know that when you are trying to be healthy it always takes a lot of work. It would be rough doing the weak coffee or tea I admit. I would have a hard time with it. But you have to do what you have to do. And I have to admit I love Beaker! Maybe it’s the Muppet lover in me and always loving the guy who was picked upon. But I always loved his character along with Fozzie.

  • Reply The London Mum May 10, 2018 at 3:53 am

    I’ve been reading a lot about digestive enzymes recently and how beneficial they are. It’s not something I fully understand though but its something I’d love to learn more about because I thin it would definitely be worth considering to help protect the gut.

  • Reply Natasha Mairs May 10, 2018 at 4:10 am

    I have heard that a low FODMAP diet is great for helping people with all kinds of digestive problems. But you right, about laughter being the best kind of medicine

  • Reply Kacie Morgan May 10, 2018 at 4:29 am

    I didn’t even know what SIBO was until I read this post, so you are definitely raising awareness with this one! It’s good to hear you might be able to improve the condition by eating a low FODMAP diet – I really hope this goes well for you 🙂

  • Reply Dee Lukasik May 10, 2018 at 4:53 am

    I was once told that the best remedy for SIBO is sauerkraut and all kinds of pickles, especially when they’re homemade. I’ve learned so much from this series!

  • Reply Lexie Lane May 10, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Wow! I’ve never even heard of triphala. There are so many Indian herbs that are good for you, like turmeric also! But I’m a true believer that proper diet really can be so helpful!

  • Reply Charli Bruce May 11, 2018 at 1:43 am

    I’ve stopped eating dairy, meats, and have completely cut out sodas and all sugars. I’m eager to find books on herbal medicines but there are so many. I’m going check out from our local library the books you referenced for gut health. I want to heal my body naturally, instead of with antibiotics. It has been difficult to cut out all processed foods from my diet but I am determined! I read labels now and try to eat raw when I can. With a limited selection of healthy foods in my small town, it can be a challenge, but being able to shop online really helps. I’m no longer eating gluten either. You’ve inspired me to know that I can do this too. Thank you!

  • Reply Nikki May 11, 2018 at 4:32 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I suffer with digestive problems and have tried the low fodmap diet with some success. I am going to look up some of those supplements you have suggested!

  • Reply London Mumma May 11, 2018 at 5:18 am

    I love how you have laid this post out in stages, it is a great way for those living with and finding out about SIBO and how to persevere through it healthily.

  • Reply Milena May 11, 2018 at 5:48 am

    I like how you are handling this situation and breaking it down for us. I’m sure that while you are helping yourself this series will help many others.

  • Reply Jenni May 11, 2018 at 11:30 am

    This is a great series and so informative. I’m glad you are in the road to recovery and back to walking in the evening

  • Reply Jocelyn May 11, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks for the great info on SIBO. Glad you’re taking steps to hep yourself. I have been taking digestive enzymes for several months now since learning that it’s really a great supplement to protect my gut.

  • Reply Cassie May 12, 2018 at 12:59 am

    I love your blog and it’s truly amazing. I hope someone will also be inspired by mine one day …

  • Reply Nicol May 12, 2018 at 2:19 am

    Thank you for helping me! I was suffering from I don’t know what (digestive problems) for years. With only a glass of lemon juice in the morning with water and vitamin C, I’m feeling much much better… and I’ve tried everything, believe me. I thought lemon increased acidity and instead, I read that it diminishes, making the environment inhospitable for bacteria, virus and all the company. Thank you. Good job 🙂

  • Reply Melanie May 12, 2018 at 8:13 am

    I think most of us need to increase their water intake and the amount of fresh plant-based foods we eat every day. Whether we have SIBO or not. I’m sure anyone with digestive troubles will have found this post series very useful.

  • Reply Msddah May 13, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Never heard of SIBO until now. Thanks for raising awareness and it seems like youve got a good plan to manage it. You got this!

  • Reply Wendy May 13, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    You are like a friend I’ve never met but feel as if I’ve known you forever. Thanks for sharing your wonderful life, with all of its ups and downs. Big hugs to health and happiness!

  • Reply Sarah Bailey May 14, 2018 at 7:55 am

    This is such a great post, I can imagine it is a confusing time when you have been diagnosed (as it is with anything). When your trying to work out what is for the best.

  • Reply Iya - Louisa May 14, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I had no idea what SIBO really was until your posts and I just love all of your advice. Eating ourselves better is always a great thing to do my mum was told to change her diet when she had cancer and my friend also apparently has SIBO and has had a diet change (which I didn’t even know about until I had mentioned your posts)

  • Reply Geraline Batarra May 15, 2018 at 5:04 am

    I like this post and I enjoy reading this. It gives me a lot of information regarding SIBO that I’ve never known before. Thanks for sharing this kind of awareness with us.

  • Leave a Reply