But the truth is, it might not be IBS at all.
There’s a good chance these symptoms are caused by another gut health condition; one that often flies under the radar, wreaking havoc on your digestion for months or even years.
That gut condition is called SIBO, which is short for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
As scary as a misdiagnosis can sound, there is good news: There is a SIBO solution. I designed my HAPPY GUT® Activate Plus supplement to help correct the underlying causes of SIBO to get your health back on track.
But first, how do you know if it’s IBS, or SIBO? Let’s dive into the similarities, differences, and why SIBO is often misdiagnosed not just as IBS, but a lot of things.
What is SIBO?
Essentially, SIBO is the wrong bacteria in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This occurs for many reasons; it often develops after surgery to the GI tract and taking medications like antibiotics and narcotics. It can also develop in those with a lowered immune system, chronic stress, or a poor diet. All of these things can slow down the passage of food and waste products as they move through the small intestines, creating giving bacteria the opportunity to replicate and migrate — creating the perfect storm for SIBO to take over. SIBO can also happen because of low stomach acid; when you have low stomach acid, food isn’t completely digested before reaching the small intestine where the overgrown bacteria ferment it, causing uncomfortable gas and bloating.There is also some overlap between SIBO and IBS, and one may lead to the other. For example, a 2018 study showed that the odds of having SIBO in IBS were increased five-fold.
SIBO Symptoms: What to Look Out For
These displaced bacteria end up fermenting the carbohydrates you eat, and that causes high amounts of gasses like hydrogen and methane to be produced. These bacteria also gobble up other nutrients, like vitamin B12, leaving you at risk for deficiency. It also makes the digestion of other nutrients like protein and fats difficult, leading to you feeling crappy after almost every meal. If left untreated, SIBO can cause malnutrition and lasting damage to your body.
The most common symptoms of SIBO are:
- Abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Abdominal distension
SIBO Testing: How This Condition is Diagnosed… and Misdiagnosed
In fact, I’d go as far as to say SIBO is misdiagnosed more often than it’s caught and actually treated.
SIBO is frequently misdiagnosed as:
- Histamine intolerance
- Chronic fatigue
That’s one of the reasons why I developed Active Plus, to give SIBO sufferers an everyday solution to SIBO that helps raise awareness of this condition and help them get closer to a diagnosis.
A SIBO diagnosis happens in a few ways. The most accurate way is to culture the mucus and fluid in the small intestines, and measure the number of bacteria in the sample. Officially, SIBO is diagnosed when there are more than 100,000 colony-forming units of bacteria per milliliter of fluid. Other less invasive ways to diagnose SIBO include breath tests, which test for hydrogen and methane gasses being produced by your gut bacteria.
Another flag to look out for is if you take probiotics, and your digestive issues get worse. Not all probiotics will exacerbate SIBO, especially when taken with other treatments, but some can, and that’s a good sign that SIBO is at play.
A HAPPY GUT® Approach to SIBO
Foods to Avoid If You Have SIBO
SIBO Triggering Foods
- Cow’s milk
- Brussels sprouts
- Butternut squash
- Sugar and sweeteners
The tricky part is that FODMAPS are often healthy foods, which can make it frustrating to cut them out. Luckily, once SIBO is under control you can often add these foods back into your diet without an issue.
SIBO Safe Foods
The following foods are great to eat as you fend off SIBO. You can find a more detailed guide of foods to eat and foods to enjoy,
- Almond milk
- Bok choy
- Beer, chicken, pork,
It’s important to stick to SIBO-safe foods, especially as you’re finishing up your antibiotics; that way, you won’t give those bacteria anything to feed on and overgrow.
Activate Plus for Daily SIBO Prevention
If you’re struggling with your digestion, or any of the symptoms of SIBO, make sure you’re not going misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. There are solutions to SIBO but only if you know you have it! Don’t wait — you don’t want to allow nutrient deficiencies to take hold, and sabotage your health in the long-term.