I’ve written a few articles in the past about how to naturally deal with minor digestive discomfort, but today, I’m going to get a little deeper. Some of us, including me, deal with GI issues on a daily basis. I must confess, after 12 years of this, I’m fed up!
As I’ve been working to get to the root cause of my issues, I have become so much more knowledgeable in the area of digestive health. Maintaining a healthy GI system is absolutely critical for overall health. Seventy percent of our immune system exists in our gut, so if your gut isn’t healthy, then you’re not healthy. In fact, chronic GI issues can lead to other conditions, such as headaches, rosacea, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, weight gain or weight loss.
For the past 12 years I’ve dealt with chronic digestive issues involving just about every GI symptom you can imagine. Don’t worry; I won’t get too graphic. Through numerous doctors visits I received diagnoses of IBS, food intolerances, leaky gut, fructose intolerance, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). While this is all overwhelming and has been a rough ride, I feel like I’m beginning to make sense of everything.
The SIBO was confirmed through a thorough test, and I believe it’s accurate. SIBO is a bacterial infection in the small intestine and occurs when there are abnormally large numbers of harmful bacteria present. I also feel that it’s caused everything else: food intolerances, leaky gut and the rest. Based on the common symptoms of SIBO — abdominal pain, cramping, abdominal fullness, unintentional weight loss, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, joint pain, fatigue — this diagnosis seems very accurate. In fact, many people with IBS may actually have SIBO, and I would recommend getting tested if you still experience painful symptoms.
So what now? How do you treat this problem? There are antibiotics that have been shown to help kill off the bad bacteria. However, going on an antibiotic for seven days isn’t going to help in the long run. Incorporating the right type of diet can help heal your gut and keep it healed. Plus, incorporating probiotics to promote the growth of good bacteria is strongly advised.
There are several types of diets out there targeted specifically for SIBO and other GI conditions. A few are GAPS (Gut and Psychology Diet), SCD (Strict Carb Diet), Low FODMAPS Diet, and Body Ecology Diet. While they’re all a little different in the foods that are allowed, they have some similarities. For now, these similarities are what I plan to focus on. See below for the general guidelines:
- Gluten-free grains or no grains
- Fermented foods and drinks like cultured vegetables, coconut water kefir, and regular kefir
- Homemade bone broth
- Limited fruit consumption
- Limited or no sugar
- Organic, lean protein: chicken, fish, eggs, lean beef, turkey, etc.
- No beans
- Limited or no dairy
- Lots of non-starchy vegetables, mostly cooked
- Limited nuts
If you’re dealing with some of these same symptoms and have not found relief, then a change in your diet may be very helpful. I’ve always been a healthy eater, but since I’ve cut down on the fruit, grains, and beans, I’ve felt better.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences with any of these diets.