Given our recent hectic schedule, I had to take a moment to write about the patients struggling with IBS, malabsorption, autoimune
disorders and autism or autism spectrum disorders. I am beginning to wonder if all these “diagnoses” are more linked than we once believed…
It seems that the key to these disorders may be SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The organisms that populate our small and large intestines and our rectum determine our health future. When certain bacteria overgrow, a series of nutritional deficiencies, diarrhea, abdominal pain and malabsorption ensues. The disease label may change from patient to patient, but the process seems to be consistent; wrong mix of bugs wreaking havoc on or immune systems.
Diagnosing SIBO can be difficult but typically involves a breath hydrogen test which we have just started offering in the practice. Testing for malabsorption is also helpful. The gold standard is jejunal aspirates, which can be difficult and painful to obtain.
Treating SIBO naturally is possible, but it begins with diet changes, supplements like probiotics to recolonize the gut and identification of the organism that may be present and may respond to antibiotics. Nutritional deficiencies have to be treated, especially B12, iron and fats.
If you are suffering from one of the conditions listed above, then it is important to at least think about SIBO as a potential starting point. The industrialization of our food is directly linked to the change of flora in our guts- for example, bread made today does not have the bacterial count that it had 50 years ago. Bread was allowed to ferment and rise over time, creating an abundant natural probiotic that people consumed daily. Today, bread is prepared commercially and quickly and ends up being nutritionally worthless.
I have watched a variety of patients suffer from SIBO and hope that as more information evolves, we can continue to bring them some relief.