Will the next diagnosis please step up *drumroll* it’s the complicated SIBO! Uh oh!
I’ve had my suspicions for a while now, and although I’ve spent the last year listening to podcasts and educating myself on health and nutrition, every time I heard the description of SIBO I’d turn the part of my brain off that was saying, “that’s probably you ya know Kristi”. Why? Pretty much because I like carbs and the idea of going without sweet potato, pumpkin and occasional dark chocolate was too much to bear on my already restricted diet. But I’ve slowly gotten used to the idea that first I need to strip my diet right back, calm the inflammation pit that has become my digestive system, and start again.
When the results for the breath test came back positive for small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, I just kinda rolled my eyes and took a deep breath and reminded myself of something I’d read on The Paleo Mom's site that very same day, “It can be very frustrating and very discouraging, but I try and focus on the positive: I now know how to eat for my health issues and even if it’s sometimes hard to comply, I am no longer roaming in the dark taking scads of prescription medications. I am healing.” I have my first significant diagnosis, and now that I know what I’m up against, I’m doing my best to be grateful.
What is SIBO? The small intestine should be a sterile place, but when your digestive system is askew sometimes bacteria either from the stomach going down, or the colon backing up, gets in where it doesn’t belong. Once its gained entry it’s hard to control so flourishes in the untouchable environment. It causes all the symptoms related to IBS (which isn’t actually a diagnosis by the way, IBS is merely what you get labelled with if they can’t find anything else): gas, bloating, distension, cramps, pain and changes in bowel patterns. Along with this SIBO sufferers also experience: nausea, acid reflux, malabsorption, leaky gut, food intolerances, joint pain, skin issues, headaches and cognitive dysfunction including depression and anxiety. Personally my main symptoms have been gut pain, cramping, chronic constipation, acne, joint pain, foggy head and depression. More recently I’ve been experiencing nausea, fatigue, insomnia, migraines, loss of appetite and weight loss.
I think my SIBO is a mixture of poor bacteria colonisation as a kid, being a super stressy type A personality, having anorexia and overusing laxatives in my teens, being a vegetarian for many years and disrupting my stomach acid production… During that time I was also eating a lot of grains and nuts, which are actually are not great for the digestive system. My diet was also high carbs and low fat which SIBO just luuurrrvvess. Working night shift and neglecting sleep. I’ve also taken numerous drugs to deal with symptoms over the years which just added to the mayhem!
Her book explained the elimination diet, safe foods, how to mix them together to make a meal as well as how to reintroduce foods when the time came – I had ultimate flexibility on a crazy rigid plan. I came across her cheat sheet and this is what I follow now SIBO Cheat Sheet I’ve also enrolled in her Real Food Challenge to give myself a boost off the starting line.
Hooray for being on the TOP of the mountain looking down!