I am happy to report that I think I am officially winning the battle against SIBO. I want to share with you the steps I have been taking of late in the hopes that it will help others who are suffering with this debilitating and “life draining” illness. My symptoms have decreased by 75%.
For those of you who don’t know what SIBO is, don’t feel badly as most gastroenterology professionals are scarcely familiar with it either. SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. If you have chronic gas and bloating, diarrhea or constipation, undigested particles of food in your stool, and possibly GERD (esophageal reflux including belching), it is more than likely that your IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is really caused by SIBO.
What I have chosen to do is to borrow from traditional medicine and Paleo / Primal nutrition to devise a winning strategy. Here are the steps I have been taking that seem to be working. As always, I caution you to seek advice and guidance from a qualifiedhealthcare provider.
1. DRINK APPLE CIDER VINEGAR/BAKING SODA: I have added ACV (apple cider vinegar) with a dash of baking soda to my water. I have been drinking this concoction before meals and also between meals in a diluted form. I use roughly 1-2 tbs of unfiltered, unpasteurized raw apple cider vinegar along with 1/16 to 1/8th of a tsp of baking soda.
This seems to have improved my digestion considerably. My reflux is practically non existent and my gas and bloating have minimized as long as I make sure to include the baking soda in the mixture.
2. TAKE DIGESTIVE ENZYMES:Before meals I am taking enzymes that include hemicellulase. The formula I am currently using is called Candizyme. The directions say to take 3 at night, but I find that taking one before meals along with aBromelainseems to really aid my digestion without causing any sort of reflux or negative repurcussions. For me, taking HCL often made things worse and when I tried Pancreatic enzymes, I also had some trouble. I have noticed that many nutritional supplements contain cellulose which is hard for those with SIBO to digest, so I make sure to limit supplements with this ingredient.
3. LIMIT FIBER: I do not eat nuts, wheat, corn, dairy, soy, grains of any kind. I did have some white rice and was able to tolerate it on Xmas day, but as a general rule, I steer clear of high carb foods. I limit my fruits and vegetables to those that are very easily digested. Carrots and beets mainly. Pumpkin is okay too, but I am already sick of it. I just bought a rutabaga and a turnip. Hard to believe I have never tried these.
All veggies and fruits should be peeled. Excess fiber is hard on those with SIBO. The GAPS diet is a good place to start when choosing foods to heal the gut, according to Chris Kresser, acupuncture physician and well respected blogger of the Paleo world. High fiber foods that are left undigested can cause intense pain and bloating for SIBO sufferers.
4. DRINK BONE BROTH:One of the best things I have done was to start making Bone Broths. I usedsome garlic and onion as well as carrots to flavor the broth and took Grassfed rib bones, knuckle bones, and marrow bones. I purchased a large crock pot. I also made chicken stock as well. The bone broth has substances that heal the gut and also allows the body to get nutrients in a more absorbable form when the small intestines are compromised.
5. EAT DIRT: OK, so I am not really eating dirt. I am taking a supplement that has humic and fulvic acids that are found in the soil. I have found this to be beneficial to the intestinal flora in the past. Watch out for taking probiotics willy nilly if you suspect you have SIBO. You can actually wind up feeding the bacteria if you aren’t careful. The brand I am using is from Morningstar Minerals and is called Immune Boost 77.
6. EAT LESS OFTEN: I admit I struggle with this one as I enjoy grazing, but I do my best to let 3-4 hours pass between meals. This allows the waves that occur in the intestines to increase in frequency. According to Dr. Mark Pimentel, expert in the area of SIBO research, most SIBO patients only experience cleansing waves 3x per day whereas those without SIBO have roughly 11 waves per day. Big difference.
7. CHEW BABY CHEW: The more effort you put into chewing your food before it goes down, the better you will be able to digest those foods you do eat. If you are making bone broths, you may want to use this meat as your protein source because it will be easier to digest that baked or broiled meats as it is soft and tender. I have been enjoying scallops as they are easy to digest for me and don’t require much chewing.
8. GET RID OF THE WEE BEASTIES: I have been doing a number of things to get rid of the bacteria that has taken over my intestines. On the natural front, I fasted for 6 days. I wanted to do more, but as Xmas was coming up and I felt very drained, I decided 6 days was a good run for starters. I am still doing intermittent fasting 1-2x per week. This helps. Another natural suggestion you may want to try is Peppermint. Enteric coated peppermint is said to help in SIBO. I have chosen to postpone my use of Peppermint as I am currently taking Rifaximin which is an antibiotic that has been shown in clinical trials to get rid of SIBO in many cases. Again, consult your doctor or healthcare speciailist about this option.
9. DITCH THE COFFEE: I literally cried about this one, but it is a no brainer. Pouring an acidic beverage with irritating tannins down your throat daily can never be a good thing for those with intestinal problems. In addition, coffee can mimic gluten for those who have gluten sensitivity/celiac disease.
10. MISCELLANEOUS SUGGESTIONS: I bought some pumpkin seeds (raw) because I find that while I can’t digest nuts well, I seem to be okay with them and they have known antimicrobial properties to kill the wee beasties. I can’t say for sure though if they are making an impact as I don’t want to eat to many for fear of exacerbating my symptoms. I am chewing them very well.
The other thing I have tried is called Kombucha (organic and raw). It is a bit higher in carbs than I would like, but not too bad and has bacillicus coagulans as a probiotic. I also am approaching this product with caution. I don’t intend to make it a staple, but thought it was a nice beverage to try.
If you are struggling with symptoms of SIBO, taking a multi pronged approach is the best strategy. No two people are alike though so be sure to listen to your body and do your own homework.