SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) – what is is, and how to use/avoid Kombucha
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a form of dysbiosis, caused by an imbalance of the trillions of bacteria in our gut. We examine how this happens and how it affects your health.
What it is SIBO?
As its name suggests, SIBO is caused by bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. However, where the confusion comes into play with SIBO is the location of the bacterial overgrowth, not the actual type.
Although its commonly known that bad bacterial compounds colonise all areas of the gut, the overwhelming majority is typically found in the colon (large intestine), which typically assists in the final stages of digestion. The small intestine, on the other hand, is where your digestive juices typically intermingle with nutrients absorbed into the bloodstream. Bacteria plays no role here, so its presence is unwanted and presents issues when it’s found.
When bacteria finds its way into the small intestine, it starts to feast on living organisms (your food) to stake its claim at the table. And when there isn’t any nourishment to be found in that, they turn to you.
Symptoms of SIBO
SIBO is likely to trigger what’s commonly now known as ‘leaky gut disease’, which compromises the immune system.
This happens when larger food particles seep into the bloodstream instead of just essential nutrients.
Although leaky gut disease can be triggered by other issues, it is fairly commonplace for SIBO to be the root cause.
Signs & symptoms that may lead to SIBO include:
- Acid reflux
- Discomfort after eating
- Constipation and diarrhoea
Aesthetically, SIBO can also lead to a distended stomach due to the build-up of gases resulting in excessive bloat. Because the small intestine is not designed to withstand the build-up, gases become trapped and this commonly leads to the appearance of a protruding belly.
Misconceptions with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Because the symptoms are often so similar, many mistakenly believe they’re suffering from IBS. However, this is often not the case, as IBS is typically diagnosed when all other causes have been ruled out for the aforementioned symptoms.
As an example, 60 % of all IBS cases are typically caused by SIBO! Quite staggering, on the surface as a statistic.
The Cause of SIBO
It is believed by leading scientists that the reason for SIBO is a result of our migrating motor complex (MMC) going haywire. This is the area of the small intestine responsible for cleansing the small intestine and ensuring food gets pushed down and out efficiently.
The MMC works its magic during fasted states, typically in between meals and overnight. It relies on the body’s immune system to spear it into action.
The MMC is normally damaged by excessive bacteria releasing toxins that attack your immune cells within the small intestine, compromising its ability to function.
In addition to this, SIBO is frequently caused structurally through issues such as hernia, C-section, or other procedures that cause a kinking of the intestine by pressing on the abdominal region.
Lastly, hypothyroidism can also cause a significant slowdown to the MMC resulting in malfunction. There remains some scepticism surrounding the causation, but frequent studies have drawn a link between the two.
Treatment of SIBO
SIBO is typically treated with one or a combination of the following:
- Herbal supplements
A low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-
Can you consume Kombucha with SIBO?
Because Kombucha is incredibly rich in prebiotics (which feed bacteria, sometimes the bad alongside the good), precaution is taken with its inclusion to a low FODMAP diet for SIBO sufferers.
You may be able to drink Kombucha in moderation with SIBO, but the debate is certainly open as to how much you can/should consume of the Elixir of Life.
Our opinion on this matter is to take pre-emptive measures and play it safe, keeping things in moderation. Kombucha may/may not fit into your diet if you’re suffering from SIBO, and you should always consult your physician before transitioning your diet to self-medicating a serious condition.