Health Routines: 7 routines that helped Amy manage SIBO
I have been suffering from gut issues since I was 11 or 12 years old. It started out as constipation and all throughout my secondary/high school years I would take copious amounts of laxatives and avoid gluten to ensure that I emptied my bowels. I went on to later develop a host of other autoimmune and gut issues. In 2013 I thought leaky gut was root cause, then Candida and then finally a few years ago I discovered Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). I have relapsed and treated my SIBO three times already and you know what it’s not quite as simple as, ‘take some antibiotics, take some probiotics and bingo you’re good for life…’
… I wish it was that easy!
I have treated my SIBO using both antibiotics and herbal products. Treating it is not my biggest challenge though, it is managing and preventing it after treatment that is the tricky part.
Trying to navigate the realm of diet, prebiotics, probiotics, prokinetics and other routines to delicately restore, repopulate gut flora, manage digestive tolerance and ensure daily bowel elimination can sometimes feel like an impossible task!
So I’d like to share with you 7 routines that I currently use to manage and more importantly prevent SIBO from recurring. Please note that as with any person, what works for one may not work for another - we are all individual and you should always work with your practitioner to determine what is best for you.
I take a prokinetic agent daily. Sometimes in the morning, but more ideally at, or after dinner time so that it can have effect overnight when I’m fasting. Prokinetics are agents that assist with gut motility. My favourite prokinetics are natural ones including: ginger, iberogast and
I’ve had to be careful with this one because sometimes if I do it too much I can lose too much weight. Intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits. The two main reasons I do it is for my (a) immune system; and (b) gut health.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting has the ability to trigger stem cell immune regeneration. For someone like me with extremely low IgG immune killer cells, intermittent fasting seems like an easier fix than gamma globulin infusions (where you are receiving unknown blood donations).
Secondly, periods of fasting has been shown to better activate the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC). The MMC is known as the housekeeper of the small intestine and goes and “sweeps” the upper intestine of any excess gastric content and organisms. Impaired gut motility has been shown to be one of the leading causes linked to SIBO, an overgrowth of bacteria in the upper intestine.
I do anywhere between 12-16hr fasts overnight. It is usually 14-15hrs e.g. I finish eating by 8pm and will eat brekkie between 10-11am the next morning.
I am stringent on moving my body EVERY single day. I actually get irritated and more anxious when I don’t get to move my body in the morning. It helps in so many ways including my mood and getting the toxins circulating but most importantly it gives my bowels a bit of a nudge (literally).
The foods I choose is a big one for me. I have found that eating a low-fodmap, paleo type diet during treatment phase of a SIBO protocol works well for me. However, my biggest struggle has been reintroducing foods. If you read my blog post on ‘Why I keep relapsing with SIBO’, you would know that earlier this year I ate high carb and fodmap diet in order to gain some weight. In hindsight, I think I should've skipped the grains and processed foods and stuck to the clean, whole foods.
I know only reintroduce foods in MODERATION. Yes, sometimes less is more. So I am currently choosing small things to trial. For example,
1 tsp avocado daily
1 tsp of coconut yoghurt or fermented veggies daily
Sweet potato and starchy veggies with one meal a day, usually night
I am strict with these food restrictions midweek and then on each day of the weekend I allow myself cheat meals where I literally ignore the SIBO diet and order something that is going to fill me up emotionally and bring me joy. I mean, let’s be honest, I LOVEEE food. And food is meant to be enjoyed. So don’t be too hard on yourself at the end of the day.
After listening to The Healthy Gut Podcast episode with Michael Ruscio you too may realise that your hypothyroidism and SIBO may actually be connected. An underactive thyroid can affect the gut in many ways with the most common being to lower stomach acid, lower nutrient absorption and decrease gut motility or peristalsis. Although I am still getting to the bottom of the root cause of my hypothyroidism (I have a hunch it could be linked to both SIBO and the viruses running rampant in my body, EBV and HHV6 to be specific), I know in the interim it is important for me to be managing my underactive thyroid. My doctor has me on a daily dose of free T3 which I get compounded to ensure it contains no lactose. This has been imperative for propping my thyroid function up to ensure my body and immune system has sufficient ability to fight the viral and bacterial loads.
I take digestive enzymes with each of my main meals to help me break down my meal and help counterbalance my low stomach acid. I choose the enzyme based on the meal, it will be one of the following: Betaine & HCL, Super Enzymes or Ox Bile. I find this really helps with my bowels as well which is key for anyone dealing with Methane based SIBO. I also drink celery juice which naturally rebuilds my hydrochloric acid and HCL.
At the moment, I’m about 4 weeks post SIBO treatment phase and so I am using a maintenance dose of Atrantil to help manage the reintroduction phase. I don’t take it every day religiously however more on an as needs basis and definitely on weekends when I have “cheat” meals. It honestly works wonders for me and rarely get digestive complaints when using it. I also love that it is a natural product and the polyphenol component in the Conker Tree ingredient act like a prebiotic to help support repopulation of healthy gut flora.
SIBO is not easy to treat, but often even harder to prevent from relapsing. I have suffered from Methane based SIBO for many years and have found routines to help manage it. My 7 routines are:
Taking a daily natural prokinetic;
Doing intermittent fasting overnight
Moving my body everyday
Commit to very small, but gradual reintroductions
Support my underactive thyroid with free T3 medication
Take digestive enzymes with every meal
Take Atrantil as needed