by Dr Minkoff October 25, 2022 4 min read
S.I.B.O. = Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
In this article HERE we covered the overall path of digestion, and if you haven’t read it — you should.
The digestive tract is arguably the most important pathway in the body for overall health, weight loss, muscle-building, hormones, energy, and immune system function.
Now we’re going to dive more into one aspect of it affecting a majority of the people in the US right now whether they know it or not: SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
These are bacteria that make their way into your small intestine and take root, causing all sorts of problems.
These bacteria create gas and bloating, raise inflammation levels, demand sugary foods to feed them, and make you feel pretty terrible if you don’t comply.
They also degrade your intestinal lining so it lets through these harmful bacteria, along with other toxins, into your blood stream, and can lead to bacterial infections, toxicity, and inflammation throughout the body.
As we know from the above article, if our levels of digestive acid are weak, then bacteria, parasites, and viruses can get through into the body.
While parasites will be the subject of another article, and your immune system, if healthy, should take care of viruses coming in, these bacteria are another story and their effect much more than most people think.
The stomach is supposed to be acidic, so it kills these bacteria before entering the small intestine.
But when it doesn’t they make it through to the small intestine where it’s very much not acidic. It’s dark, it’s warm, there’s lots of food coming in. It’s the perfect home for them.
Here they set up shop doing a number of things.
First, they eat your food. That’s right. If you’ve felt that you’re eating so much but your body just doesn’t seem to be getting the nutrients you’re giving it, this is most likely one of the causes: Someone else is eating your food.
This leaves you undernourished, with low energy, and feeling you need more food when really you don’t.
But when they eat it they also have a waste product they give off: Gas, which causes bloating, especially around the waist.
If you’ve ever seen someone do an effective bacterial cleanse, or a digestive cleanse that included anti-bacterials to kill SIBO, then you may have noticed that they sometimes lose inches around the waist.
This isn’t trapped food waste or body fat being gotten rid of, this is the bacteria that were creating a constant source of gas and bloating being gotten rid of, at which point the gas that is there makes its way out and no new gas replaces it = no more bloating.
(Note: This is not the same as a lack of Potassium which causes another kind of “bloating” — water retention.)
And yes, they can lose literal inches from around the waist when these bacteria are killed off.
Another point here is the type of food they like: sugary foods, grains, breads, processed sugars, starchy foods, you name it. They thrive on these things and you can even do a cleanse or take an anti-bacterial with little to no effect if you keep consuming these foods as, while you are killing them, you’re also still feeding them.
But not only do they thrive on sugary foods — they demand them.
Bacteria in your body, whether harmful SIBO, or helpful bacteria in your colon (your microbiome), are able to communicate with your brain via the same channels the cells in your body use — as if they were actual cells in your body.
If you haven’t had sugar in a while they get hungry. And they’ll communicate that hunger, just as your cells will, giving you an exact craving for the type of food they like.
If you try to come off sugary foods, starving them, they’ll get back at you and make you feel their pain until you go buy that donut.
That’s where those cravings are coming from.
That’s why when, say you don’t normally eat a lot of junk food but only some, but then decide to cut it all out fully, you’ll later that day get not only a large urge to eat that same junk food, but possibly something even more sugary or more junk food than normal, to make up for their “missed meals”.
This is one reason why, if you’re planning on coming off sugar for health or weightless reasons, it’s smart to kill these bacteria first or as part of the diet, or they will almost surely make you break your diet.
This is one of the main causes behind almost all losses in trying to go onto a healthy diet or lose fat. They’re the “I’m going to get fit” New Years Resolution killers.
Now, before we get into exactly what to do to address SIBO, there’s one more aspect that needs to be covered — how it affects your intestinal lining, causing something called “Leaky Gut”, and how that affects your overall health, hormones, energy levels, and ability to lose fat and gain muscle.
This will be covered in the next article.
But one thing you can do right now is start taking digestive enzymes with any meal if you experience gas, bloating, GERD, or acid reflux, as these each indicate SIBO.
Many people find their acid reflux lowers and even much of their bloating goes away just with this.
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