What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome or ‘IBS’ affects 10-15% of people worldwide which is a staggering number. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion meaning that unless the doctor can find something quite obvious (and possibly more serious) wrong, then you are popped under this umbrella. But having this umbrella does nothing to improve your wellbeing other than giving you a label for your symptoms.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
However, there is one culprit which might be implicated in as many as 60 or 70% of cases. This is called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO (pronounced see-bow) to give it a friendlier name. SIBO is not necessarily ‘bad’ bacteria but rather bacteria from the gut that is in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has moved house, farther up the street and frankly no one wants it there. In its new location, it comes into contact with our food before we’ve had a good go at it. It’s like the child raiding the Hallowe’en treat bag before the parent can siphon off the really sugary stuff. Once it gets its teeth into our less-digested food, it has a party all of its own. It produces gases where gases aren’t meant to be. Imagine gases are produced lower down; they usually are. A quiet slip and they are released in most cases, and you can always blame the dog. When the bacteria are much further up, these gases have nowhere to go. This can lead to bloating, nausea, reflux, discomfort, spasms or pain.
What is normal?
IBS is also associated with diarrhoea, constipation or both, sometimes alternating between the two. A normal healthy bowel movement should be the consistency of toothpaste; most people are not really aware of this because who talks about stools over their morning cuppa? It shouldn’t be watery or loose and it shouldn’t be too hard or in lumps. We should also have a bowel movement each day, and not every 2-3 days that many people do.
Signs and symptoms of IBS that might indicate a bacterial imbalance
- Intolerance to onions or garlic
- Difficulty digesting high fibre foods such as lentils, beans and chickpeas
- Intolerance to wheat (which you might think is a gluten intolerance)
- Bloating, stomach pain or discomfort after eating
- Feeling of fullness after eating like the food just isn’t ‘going down’
- Nausea, reflux, burning sensations in throat or upper stomach
- Irregular bowel movements, either constipation or diarrhoea
- Often anxiety goes along with SIBO
- Other conditions include Rosacea and gallbladder issues to name a few
What to do?
If these symptoms sound familiar, why not have a chat with us about our tests. We work closely with Gastrolife, the experts in testing in this field. We can help you with dietary and supplement recommendations and liaise with your doctor to help you get back to balance.