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What is SIBO?

What is SIBO?  A relatively new GUT (gastrointestinal) issue that many more appear to be experiencing?

What are the symptoms, how do you know you are at risk, and how do you redress.

For answers to these and other key questions you need answers to, read on.

1. What is SIBO?

  • SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth.
  • It is an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine.
  • What is important to know is that this bacteria is non-pathogenic, non-harmful.
  • The issue is that the bacteria are not supposed to be there.
  • They relocate from elsewhere in your gastrointestinal tract (GIT), generally the large intestine.

2. Why is SIBO an issue?

  • The small intestine is largely sterile; in laymen terms it should not have bacteria in it.
  • Bacteria taking up residence in your small intestine cause a uncomfortable side effects.
  • These include bloating, discomfort, reflux, pain, diarrhea and/or constipation.
  • And in worst case, SIBO bacteria can result in you experiencing nutritional deficiencies.

3. What causes SIBO?

There are a range of factors, however the most common include:

1.  Insufficient digestive juices/enzymes.

  • You need these juices to optimize your ability to digest foods.
  • If you cannot digest food it can impact your ability to absorb nutrients from food.
  • In addition these digestive juices kill harmful bugs and bacteria you ingest.

2. Sluggish Digestion

  • Our gastrointestinal tract (GIT) has a natural rhythm, similar to our heart beat.
  • When the GIT natural rhythm is too slow, it like a drain does not have sufficient flow.
  • It results in stasis (lack of movement) and increased risk that unwanted bugs/bacteria grow.

3. Obstructions in the GIT

  • Any obstruction that occurs in the GIT can cause partial blockages or a lack of movement.
  • A possible cause could be scarring and/or tissue build up after surgery.
  • Obstruction causes lack of movement, increasing risk that bugs/bacteria remain and/or multiply.

4.  Who’s at risk?

There are a number of risk factors that can predispose or increase your risk of developing SIBO?

They include:

  • A bout or recurrent bouts of gastroenteritis that undermine the natural rhythm/function of your GIT.
  • GIT health conditions/syndromes, including coeliac disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • Health conditions like hypothyroidism and diabetes that can impact the natural function of the GIT.
  • Lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Overuse of antibiotics over time that impact and undermine GIT bacterial/microbiome health.

5. Do I have SIBO?

  • SIBO symptoms mean SIBO can present or mistaken for other GIT disorders.
  • Hence it is important to be tested for SIBO.
  • SIBO is diagnosed through a specific breath test.

6. Testing for SIBO?

  • SIBO is one of the GIT disorders I focus on in my practice.
  • If you think  you are at risk, I encourage you to make contact.
  • There are four key steps:

(i) An overall nutritional and wellbeing review.

(ii) SIBO specific questionnaire to confirm potential risk.

(iii) If it appears likely you will undertake the SIBO breath testing.

(iv) If SIBO is confirmed I create a tailored nutritional plan to redress SIBO and its symptoms.

7.  Risk of ignoring SIBO?

  • The symptoms you are experiencing will likely progress and worse.
  • If SIBO worsens bacteria can compete for nutrients essential for optimal health.
  • Over time and at worst, this can result in nutrient malabsorption and deficiencies.
  • Extreme cases can result in anaemia, malnutrition and polyneuropathy.

8.  Is SIBO treatable?

  • Yes, it absolutely is!
  • I will work with you to design nutritional support to remove the SIBO bacteria and discourage their regrowth.
  • If you would like to find out more, or discuss your situation with me please make contact to set up an appointment.




Dukowicz, A. C., Lacy, B. E., & Levine, G. M. (2007). Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: A Comprehensive Review. Gastroenterology & Hepatology3(2), 112–122. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/

Bures, J., Cyrany, J., Kohoutova, D., Förstl, M., Rejchrt, S., Kvetina, J., … Kopacova, M. (2010). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG16(24), 2978–2990. http://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v16.i24.2978

Merck Manuals Professional Edition. (2018). Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome – Gastrointestinal Disorders – Merck Manuals Professional Edition. [online] Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/malabsorption-syndromes/bacterial-overgrowth-syndrome

Bode, Carolin & C Bode, J. (1997). Alcohol’s role in gastrointestinal disorders. Alcohol health and research world. 21(1), 76-83. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/76.pdf