What looks like poor digestion could be a disorder called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine is a condition known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
- These bacteria are native to the body.
- However, we now believe that these normally harmless bacteria are from other areas of the digestive tract, such as the stomach, esophagus, or large intestine.
- Once these bacteria take up residence in the small intestine, they stir up trouble by multiplying and building a community.
- These usually harmless bacteria end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As we mentioned before, SIBO looks a lot like “poor digestion.” This means that SIBO can show up in the body as:
- Upper abdominal bloating and cramping
- Constipation, or alternating constipation and diarrhea
Nature has designed our bodies so that within our guts there is a living, thriving inner ecosystem. This ecosystem is in place for many reasons. Healthy microflora do wonderful things in our bodies. They:
- Speak to cells of our immune system.
- Play an important role in regulating immune function and the inflammatory response.
- Keep pathogenic overgrowth of other microorganisms in check.
- Help digest food.
- Generate certain vitamins like folate, biotin, and several B vitamins.
- Break down toxins like heavy metals.
We know that our small intestine was designed to house helpful bacteria. If this is true, how is it possible that we could have too many? Remember that:
- Just as any ecosystem on the planet requires balance in order to thrive, the same is true with the small intestine.
- SIBO is a condition of overgrowth.
- SIBO is a condition where the scales have been tipped, and this creates a state of imbalance.
In the presence of too much food, especially starchy foods and sugars which bacteria thrive on, bacterial overgrowth will lead to fermentation. When food ferments in the gut, this generates:
- Sometimes even a painful cramping sensation
Over time, SIBO can also generate an immune response in the gut. When the immune response is activated, inflammatory messages are released, and this begins an inflammatory cascade in the small intestine. This leads to tissue damage.
Both inflammation and damaged gut tissue will make the gut wall permeable. Once the gut becomes permeable, the entire body is more susceptible to an off-kilter immune response. These systemic immune reactions commonly show up as:
- Skin eruptions and rashes
- Joint pain
- Food allergies
- Brain fog
When and How to Strengthen the 3 Elements of Your Digestive Power
Digestive power is a combination of many functions coming together. When any one element of this trio is dysfunctional or not up-to-speed, bacteria can work their way into the small intestine and set up shop. When we eat the wrong foods or too much of any food, this can lead to fermentation. When we eat on the go, when angry or upset, or when the stress response has been activated, this can also lead to fermentation.
The three elements responsible for healthy digestive power are:
- Sufficient stomach acid
- Special enzymes called brush border enzymes
- Beneficial bacteria
Low levels of stomach acid are common and, contrary to popular belief, are actually one of the main culprits responsible for heartburn. Body Ecology Assist Dairy & Protein strengthens digestive fire because it contains HCL, along with other enzymes, to break down proteins.
Medications to treat heartburn, like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), will lower stomach acid levels and actually promote SIBO.
- Reduced stomach acid means carbohydrates are less likely to break down and more likely to feed bacteria, causing bacterial overgrowth.
- A diet heavy in carbohydrates and sugars feeds bacteria, causing overpopulation, gas, and heartburn.
The enzymes most responsible for breaking down food, moving it along, and keeping the gut healthy are called brush border enzymes.
- Body Ecology Full Spectrum Enzymes are full of these powerful helpers, which prevent fermentation by breaking down food and by keeping food material mobile.
Beneficial bacteria keep our inner ecosystems in balance.
The Body Ecology Diet recommends fermented foods as the primary way to inoculate the gut with beneficial microflora, which will help to create a balanced inner ecosystem.
- We recommend fermented foods over a probiotic supplement because the fermented foods are living and literally teeming with active, beneficial microflora.
- When we eat fermented foods, the food that the bacteria love will travel into the digestive tract with them.
- This ensures that the good bacteria are equipped to quickly and effectively multiply and create a community within the gut
- Make your own fermented foods at home using Body Ecology Veggie Culture Starter or Body Ecology Kefir Starter or drink a probiotic beverage like Innergy Biotic.
The Body Ecology Core Programs have been designed by Donna Gates after 30 years of research to help address digestive issues like gas, bloating, and heartburn.
What to Remember Most About This Article:
What many people call poor digestion could be a disorder called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO. This condition can cause heartburn, bloating, gas, and constipation and is a result of an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
To treat this condition, you must strengthen your digestive power by ensuring you have enough stomach acid to prevent heartburn, breaking down food with brush border enzymes, and populating your gut with healthy bacteria to balance your inner ecosystem. This combination will promote digestive health to reduce inflammation and heal damaged gut tissue that commonly causes skin rashes, joint pain, food allergies, and brain fog.