A Practical Guide to Understanding SIBO

What is SIBO?

SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which is essentially an excessive amount of bacteria in the small intestine from lack of movement in the small intestine.

How do you know if you have SIBO?

Testing may be beneficial since the symptoms are somewhat vague and overlap with other gut-related conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Here are some common symptoms:

  • bloating

  • constipation or diarrhea

  • excess gas

  • fatigue

  • abdominal pain

  • even weight loss in individuals who are not absorbing nutrients

There are different types of SIBO which are hydrogen dominant, methane dominant, and reoccurring SIBO. These different types require different treatment so be sure to keep that in mind.

You may be at increased risk for SIBO if you (2):

  • have diverticulitis

  • have IBS

  • are celiac

  • have a metabolic condition (i.e. diabetes)

  • have gut motility issues

  • taken recurrent medications

  • have structural issues 


Some SIBO treatment options may include:

  • antibiotics (depending on the type especially since antibiotic use may be linked to SIBO)

  • antibacterial herbs

  • Low FODMAP diet 


Foods you may need to avoid with SIBO are:

  • high sugar fruits
  • sugar and sugar alternatives like honey, maple and agave 
  • dairy 
  • gluten 
  • legumes
  • and more depending on how strictly you follow a Low FODAMP Diet 


How Do I Test For SIBO?

There is a lactose breath test that you can take where: "...you will swallow a drink containing the sugar lactulose. Next, you will breathe into a balloon approximately every 15 minutes over the course of three hours. Each time, we remove the breath sample from the balloon and test it. SIBO may be present if your breath sample contains hydrogen or methane shortly after drinking the solution (1)". You can read the full test guidelines here.


SIBO-Safe Chia Pudding

Base ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chia pudding
  • 1 cup plant-based milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

All these ingredients together in a mason jar, shake and let sit overnight or for at least 1-2 hours. Then add optional toppings below!

Toppings - for when you're SIBO is under control

  • crushed pecans or you can use a different nut/seed in the meantime like almonds or pumpkin seeds
  • a small serving of fruit (this will completely depend on your personalized protocol)


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