Could SIBO be the Reason for Your Digestive Issues? A Nutritionist Explains

SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It is essentially an excessive amount of bacteria in the small intestine from lack of movement in the small intestine (1).

How do you know if you have SIBO?

Testing may be beneficial since the symptoms are somewhat vague and overlap with other gut-related conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Here are some common symptoms (1):

  • Bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Excess gas
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Even weight loss in individuals who are not absorbing nutrients

There are different types of SIBO which are hydrogen dominant, methane dominant and reoccurring SIBO. In addition, these different types require different treatment so be sure to keep that in mind.

You may be at increased risk if you (2):

  • Have diverticulitis
  • Have IBS
  • Are celiac
  • Have a metabolic condition (i.e. diabetes)
  • Have gut motility issues
  • Taken recurrent medications
  • Have structural issues

Some treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotics (depending on the type especially since antibiotic use may be linked to SIBO)
  • Antibacterial herbs
  • Low FODMAP diet

How Do I Test For It?

There is a lactose breath test that you can take where: “…you will swallow a drink containing the sugar lactulose. Next, you will breathe into a balloon approximately every 15 minutes over the course of three hours. Each time, we remove the breath sample from the balloon and test it. SIBO may be present if your breath sample contains hydrogen or methane shortly after drinking the solution (1)”. You can read the full test guidelines here.

For more from Nicole, be sure to check out her website here

And for tips on how to rebalance your gut, check out our article here.





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Nicole is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist specializing in digestive issues and food sensitivities but with a passion for all things nutrition and wellness. Nicole also focuses her work on providing healthy cooking tools and resources, menu planning and working with a variety of special diets. With a Masters in Rural Planning and Development and focused research on local food, Nicole provides a unique perspective to nutrition and the food we eat.

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