Gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea? Could be SIBO

SIBO copy

Do you have gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, IBS…or maybe all of the above? Then you may have SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Doctors have long blamed stubborn gut problems on stress. For the person whose life is dictated by the cruel whims of their digestive system, this can feel like shame and blame. Thanks to new research, these days we know many things cause gut problems. They include food sensitivities (especially to gluten and dairy), leaky gut, gut inflammation, autoimmunity, poor brain function, and SIBO.

SIBO results from too much bacteria that belong in the large intestine migrating into the small intestine. When these bacteria consume sugars and carbohydrates, they produce large amounts of gas that causes not only bloating, belching, and flatulence, but also constipation or diarrhea (depending on the type of gas produced).

These bacteria also inflame and damage the lining of the intestinal tract, causing leaky gut. Leaky gut allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other antigens into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation, autoimmunity, and chronic disease.

Many different lab tests, stringent dietary strategies (managing SIBO often requires a diet that restricts most everything but meats and a limited variety vegetables), and treatment protocols exist to treat SIBO, and sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error to land on an approach that works.

But if you don’t want a relapse, it’s important to ask why you have SIBO in the first place.

The causes include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Poor diet and excess sugar
  • Low stomach acid
  • Repeated antibiotic use
  • Chronic stress
  • Problems with brain function or health

Brain function is one of the most overlooked and unaddressed causes of SIBO. The digestive system maintains close communication with the brain. Poor brain function leads to poor gut function (this explains why people often suffer from gut problems after a head injury). Digestive juices and hormones are not sufficiently released, motility slows so that food sits longer in the intestines, giving rise to bacterial overgrowth, and the valve between the small and large intestine does not stay shut, allowing bacteria from the colon to escape into the small intestine where it does not belong. All of these are examples of how poor brain function leads to SIBO.

This explains how childhood brain development disorders, brain injuries, brain inflammation, brain degeneration, and brain aging all contribute to SIBO.

The elderly are especially vulnerable to malnutrition caused by SIBO, as are the increasing numbers of children born with autism and other brain development disorders. Fortunately, you can improve gut function through simple exercises that help tone the digestive system and prevent relapses of SIBO.

Managing SIBO does not have a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are various ways to approach it that include both nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical approaches. Diet is always an important strategy. For more information, contact my office.

Are you alkaline enough or too acidic? Learn what to do

acid vs alkaline

One of the many downsides to a modern junk food diet low in vegetables is that it makes your body too acidic. The human body must maintain a healthy pH for optimal cellular function. When it’s too acidic, diseases take root.

A body that is overly acidic sets the stage for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic health problems.

Fortunately, you can sway your body toward a more healthy and alkaline pH through your diet.

Symptoms of being too acidic

Many people are too acidic but are not aware of it. Below are common symptoms of over acidity:

  • Swelling and bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Poor brain function
  • Brain fog
  • Salt cravings
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constipation
  • Reduced endurance for exercise
  • Difficulty holding breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Poor sleep

Testing how acid or alkaline you are

People use several different methods to identify pH levels, but not all are reliable. The most well-known test is a salivary pH test, however this method does not have much support in scientific studies.

Testing blood pH is also not accurate because it only fluctuates in events such as poisoning, kidney disease, or lung disease. However, looking at functional medicine blood ranges of CO2 and anion gap can help identify a pattern of over acidity.

Urine testing has shown to accurately reflect how acidic or alkaline you are. It can also help you assess whether dietary changes, such as eating more leafy green veggies and less sugar, are helping you become more alkaline.

Ideal urinary pH is between 7.2–7.8. Please note, however, that infections, bacterial overgrowth, dehydration, incontinence, and other issues can affect your results.

How do you become more alkaline?

The modern American diet makes it easy to become too acidic. Sugars, processed starches, industrialized oils, and junk foods promote excess acidity.

Excess caffeine, sodas, and alcohol also promote acidity, as does too much meat and not enough colorful vegetables and fruits.

You do not need to become a vegan or vegetarian to maintain good alkalinity, however your diet should be based primarily on leafy green and colorful vegetables and low-glycemic fruits.

An alkaline diet is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals that help maintain a healthy pH.

An added bonus: A plant-rich diet also feeds the right kind of bacteria in your gut so that you are less prone to food sensitivities, enjoy better brain function, and better immune function.

Avoid an alkaline stomach

The stomach needs to stay strongly acidic in order to digest proteins and fight pathogens. Many people suffer from insufficient stomach acidity, which paradoxically causes symptoms of acid reflux. Taking supplemental hydrochloric acid (as long as you don’t have ulcers) can actually help promote a healthy pH.

Health conditions that promote being too acidic

While being overly acidic can promote poor health, certain health conditions can likewise promote acidity. These include anemia, asthma, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or high blood sugar (insulin resistance or diabetes).

Acidity that is too severe becomes life threatening. Diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease acidify the body to a severe degree and require medical attention.

Contact my office for ideas on how diet and nutritional therapy can help improve alkalinity and health.