Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): What It Is, Signs and Symptoms, and Lifestyle Management
SIBO is a complicated and serious condition. This guide explains what it is, its signs and symptoms, and the common treatments and lifestyle changes that may be implemented in SIBO management.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a digestive condition that can significantly affect your health and quality of life.
This guide reviews what SIBO is, its signs, symptoms, and complications, and some options to help manage the condition through lifestyle changes.
What is SIBO?
SIBO occurs when bacteria begin to grow and proliferate in the small intestine. Although there are billions of bacteria in the gut, and they play an important role in your health, they are mostly concentrated in the large intestine.
When they spread to the small intestine, they can severely affect your digestion.
SIBO may occur due to structural abnormalities or dysfunction in the intestinal muscles that move food through the digestive tract. When food is left in the small intestine for an extended period of time, bacteria are given an opportunity to flourish.
Signs, symptoms, and complications
Some of the major signs and symptoms of SIBO include:
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Excessive feelings of fullness
- Gas or belching
As a result of SIBO and its many digestive consequences and effects on your gut bacteria, certain complications may arise. These include weight loss, Candida albicans (yeast) overgrowth, a weakened immune system, and vitamin deficiencies, among others.
SIBO management through lifestyle changes
Although SIBO is a serious condition, and you should seek medical treatment from a doctor, lifestyle changes will also be an important part of your SIBO management and recovery. Evidence-based strategies include:
- Eating a low-FODMAP diet: Fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) are plant foods that are difficult to digest. Limiting these foods may help improve symptoms of SIBO. A low-FODMAP approach is usually only short-term for SIBO management.
- Limiting sugar: Sugar and sugary foods may encourage bacterial growth, so limiting your sugar intake can help with existing SIBO and may also help prevent future SIBO episodes.
- Drinking plenty of water: Staying adequately hydrated can help your digestive system function optimally, potentially preventing the slow digestion of food that can contribute to SIBO development. If your urine is pale yellow, and you are drinking to thirst, then you should be adequately hydrated. However, you may need more fluid if you exercise heavily or work outdoors.
- Exercising regularly: Regular exercise can also promote optimal digestion by helping food move through your digestive tract more quickly. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
- Supplementing with probiotics: Finally, probiotics—or live bacteria that can provide beneficial effects—may help with SIBO management. Standard SIBO treatment involves antibiotic treatment, which will help with SIBO but will also harm the beneficial bacteria in your large intestine. Probiotic supplementation may help negate this downside of antibiotic use.
SIBO is a challenging condition, but it’s manageable with medical treatment and lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes can also help decrease your risk of future recurrences of the condition.
If you need a high-quality probiotic supplement, Medlixr’s Candida Balance contains probiotics along with other ingredients to promote healthy gut bacteria and optimal digestion.