I see patients all the time who’ve dealt with IBS, bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain for years due to SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) that keeps coming back.
Many have tried one-size-fits-all online programs and spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on supplements, only to test positive for SIBO over and over again.
If you’re frustrated with SIBO that just won’t go away, what you need is to know WHY you aren’t getting better and how to beat this for good and start seeing results.
Let’s take a look at what SIBO is and 5 reasons it keeps coming back!
What is SIBO
As the name suggests, SIBO occurs when you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine, where you absorb most of your nutrients.
While your gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria, most of your beneficial bacteria lives in your large intestine or colon, where it helps you break down food, eliminate waste, and supports metabolic function.
In the case of SIBO, these otherwise friendly bacteria take over and colonize the small intestine, where they don’t belong.
This can lead to a whole host of symptoms including:
- Abdominal pain
- Food sensitivities (particularly FODMAPs and histamine intolerance)
- Nutritional deficiencies
SIBO also contributes to leaky gut by damaging your intestinal lining and can lead to autoimmune disease.
In order to overcome SIBO for good, we need to look at the underlying factors that caused it in the first place, using a root cause approach.
Here are 5 causes for recurring SIBO that may be holding you back from finally beating your symptoms.
5 Causes of Recurring SIBO
1. Low Stomach Acid
Stomach acid plays a very important role in proper digestion, helping you break down food. Without enough stomach acid to digest your food, it’s left sitting in your GI tract, creating a feeding frenzy for bacteria.
HCL, your primary stomach acid, also helps kill off the bacteria that shouldn’t be in your small intestine, along with yeast and parasites.
Fast action tip: If you have low stomach acid, you can take an HCL supplement before meals to help you optimally digest and absorb your food!
2. Slow Motility and Constipation
Motility is a fancy word for the muscle movements in your intestines that keep food moving through your digestive tract.
It’s controlled by the migrating motor complex (MMC), a pattern of electromechanical activity that sweeps through the intestine between meals.
If your MMC is impaired, motility slows down, you become constipated, and again, the food left sitting in your digestive tract creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
Slow motility can be caused by a number of factors, including nerve or muscle damage, diabetes, scleroderma, Crohn’s, and scarring from GI surgeries.
However, two of the most common causes are Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism which slow down all of your metabolic functions, including MMC function and digestion.
Stress is a huge factor for many SIBO patients because it impacts all of the factors we just talked about. It decreases stomach acid production, slows motility, and contributes to thyroid dysfunction.
Interestingly, studies have also found that the stress hormones produced by your adrenal glands make it more likely for pathogenic, or bad bacteria, to overgrow in your digestive tract.
While stress is a part of daily life for most of us, you can minimize its impact on your health by finding daily stress-relief practices that work for you.
4. Mold and Mycotoxins
Mold exposure is actually a LOT more common than most people think! Even if you haven’t seen water damage directly, mold is often hiding behind walls, inside air vents, and in furniture, carpets, and clothing. It’s also found in many foods, including grains, dried fruits, nuts, and coffee
This mold that may be lurking in your home or on your plate releases toxic byproducts called mycotoxins that can increase levels of harmful gut bacteria and deplete beneficial microbes, leading to and worsening SIBO.
5. A Treatment Protocol that Isn’t Personalized for You
Each patient and every case of SIBO is unique. Your root causes and complicating factors are not the same as everyone else’s, and each person responds differently to treatment.
You may need more advanced testing to pinpoint what underlying factors are at play for you.
And you may respond better to some probiotics than others, or see better results with different antimicrobial herbs or prescription antibiotics.
That’s why it’s so important to work with a practitioner who understands your unique history, who orders the right testing, and that you work together to design a personalized path to wellness based on your specific case.
I’ve helped hundreds of patients beat SIBO and regain their health after being seen by multiple doctors, been failed by various programs, and taken almost every medication or supplement under the sun in a desperate attempt to feel better.
I want to help you get some real answers too. By digging deeper to identify and overcome the root causes of YOUR condition, we can develop a comprehensive approach to finally putting an end to your SIBO suffering.
If you’re ready to get to the bottom of your symptoms and find lasting solutions, check out our Adaptation Program to see if it’s the right fit for you and schedule your free, 10-minute discovery call with me.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.
Want to work with Dr. Osgood? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic, or our Austin, Texas Functional Medicine clinic!