If you test positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, (SIBO), it means you may have bacteria in the small intestine which may be addressed medically (with antibiotics) or naturally (with anti-microbial supplements).
A SIBO friendly diet should also be introduced (more on that to come) and steps taken to support your general gut health. SIBO can be chronic in some people which suggests it may not be the root cause and further support and gut healing may be necessary.
If you test negative for SIBO, other causes of excessive bloating and gas could be food intolerance, digestive enzyme deficiency, bile insufficiency and/or bacterial imbalance in the large intestine. A comprehensive stool test may be helpful as it includes many of these markers. You may also enjoy reading my top five tips to prevent bloating.
Find out more about how we can work together to find the best approach for you here. If you'd like to arrange a time to chat we can discuss the best way forward for you here.
I’d love to know if you are incorporating any of my tips on how to reduce the risk of bloating? But, if you feel you have already tried absolutely EVERYTHING, and you have been given the all-clear by your GP but you are STILL struggling with excessive bloating, belching or gas, it might be time to consider Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or “SIBO”.
What is SIBO?
SIBO is when normal bacteria get moved from the large intestine into the small intestine where they can cause digestion problems, including excessive bloating and/or belching. SIBO is thought to be behind about 60% of IBS cases.
How can I get tested for SIBO in the UK?
Why test for SIBO?
Firstly, it’s helpful to get tested for SIBO so we know what we’re dealing with and so that once we have followed a nutritional programme we can retest to see how your levels are changing.
What is the SIBO test?
A SIBO test is a breath test where you collect multiple samples of breath over a three hour period. It measures levels of hydrogen and methane gases which will be produced if bacteria are present in the small intestine.
How can I get tested for SIBO?
To test for SIBO in the UK, you can try requesting a SIBO breath test from a GI consultant (requires referral by a GP) or, you can order one from me, a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist.
I've saved a story to my Instagram stories here to show you how the SIBO breath test works. It is very simple to complete at home. You can find a list of all the clinical test options I provide, including prices here. Full instructions on how to prepare for your SIBO test and complete the test are provided.
If you suspect SIBO, book a free call and we can chat further and make sure SIBO testing is the right test for you. You may also enjoy reading 'What Causes SIBO' and what to do if you test positive for SIBO here.
Experts at the British College of Nutrition and Health suggest IBS may not exist.
A really interesting (and exciting!) review of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has just been published. It considers whether or not IBS truly exists!
In the review, the author, Ben Brown (Brown, 2019), explains how IBS is not one disease but an umbrella term or ‘catch-all’ for multiple identifiable and treatable digestive symptoms which may be triggered by a combination of nutritional and lifestyle factors.
While symptoms may include excessive gas, bloating, and chronic diarrhoea or constipation, researchers found that it may not be one condition but a whole range of them. This is why the author poses the question ‘Does IBS exist?’ because it is rarely one thing.
Sadly, what frequently happens is people get labelled as IBS sufferers and told ‘there’s not much we can do about it’. However, doing this doesn’t address the underlying issue or issues and by clustering multiple digestive symptoms under one label risks “lazy thinking” and delays recovery.
Have you been told that you 'just have to live with IBS'?
The paper explores multiple nutritional factors that could be underlying IBS including:
Nutritional Therapy could help you identify the root causes.
Brown concludes that personalisation of treatment, including diet and nutritional support, is essential for supporting people with IBS because everyone will respond differently. He outlines potential management and treatment approaches, including nutritional therapies as a way to address the root causes of imbalance. Find out more here.
Here's a link to the review
Brown, B. (2019). Does Irritable Bowel Syndrome Exist? Identifiable and Treatable Causes of Associated Symptoms Suggest It May Not. [online] Gastrointestinal disorders. Available at: http://bit.ly/Does-IBS-Exist [Accessed 5 Aug. 2019].
Important 'Red Flags' to watch out for.
Please be aware that IBS must be diagnosed by a medical doctor so that serious disease can be ruled out. And if you experience any of the following please consult your doctor urgently:
Explore the 5-stages of gut healing at my 'Learn to Love your Gut' event this September.
Here is a link to book your ticket and find out more:
Sometimes we can get so focused on pinpointing a certain trigger food to our bloating, the simpler stuff gets overlooked. Incorporate these simple steps into your day to reduce your risk of bloating, gas and uncomfortable cramping.
Eat in a 10-Hour Window
To help your digestion you should really avoid lying down soon after eating. Fasting for 12-14 hours overnight can make a huge difference to your risk of bloating. For example, have an earlier dinner with the kids at 6pm and then fast until breakfast the next morning, between 6-8am. Or, if you get home late, eat dinner at say 8pm and then wait until 8-10am to eat breakfast. It will minimise your risk of bloating and the mindless grazing we are all tempted by late at night. This tip also works wonders for acid indigestion, heartburn and slow metabolisms. Give yourself that window to allow your gut microbes to flourish.
How many hours a day are you seated for? Honestly, so many of us are sat for 8-10 hours per day without even realising! The drive to work - often in stressful situations where we tense up. Then at our desk for 8 hours under pressure and dealing with demanding situations. Take mini breaks and move more. It releases gas and aids digestion. Plus, when you are moving your gut bacteria improve and you produce short chain fatty acids which help with the health of the gut lining and repair. Try walking up and down the stairs in your building for five minutes or walk to a different floor to refill your water bottle.
Have Wheat-Free Days
Wheat is hard to digest and a common food allergen. Wheat is found in breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, biscuits and beer, to name a few. Start by having wheat-free days and see how it impacts your bloating. There are far more gentler sources of fibre we can use instead that will alleviate the pressure on our gut. Sweet potato, brown rice and oats are all gentler sources of fibre that are naturally wheat-free.
Alcohol is a major gut irritant and damages the lining of the gut. Sorry, I know! Even if you only drink in small amounts, if you have excessive bloating, gas or loose stools, I recommend going alcohol-free for one month and track the changes in your bloating.
Rest and Digest
When we are eating we want to be producing saliva and enzymes, not stress hormones. Go sit somewhere more mellow where there aren’t distractions like email, an angry boss, or a nail-biting episode of your favourite TV show. Breathe in the lovely aromas, chew slowly, savour the flavours and the wonderful textures. And remember, digestion starts in our mouth, our stomach does not have teeth.
Also, when we eat too quickly, we tend to swallow big gulps of air which can increase risk of bloating and cramps. Sit down, rest and digest, maybe with a friend, or family.
Do you have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? (SIBO)
If you experience chronic bloating and you have been given the all-clear by your GP and you are still struggling, it might be time to consider Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or “SIBO”.
Find out what SIBO is and how to get tested for SIBO in the UK here. I have also shared a blog post about what do do if you test positive for SIBO and what causes SIBO? I'm always happy to chat on the phone to help explore how nutritional therapy could support you. If you feel confused or overwhelmed please book a free call here!
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