You Could Have SIBO: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Kim Andersen, B.A., C.H., C.K.P.

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SIBO is enormously common. Many people do not realize they are coping with the condition and can suffer their entire lives with it before it is identified and treated.

People with SIBO experience painful gas and bloating whenever they eat, especially when they eat fat or fiber. The gas is accompanied by diarrhea or a soft bowel movement that has a notably bad odor. (Note: you could get constipation if you have IBS.)

SIBO is the result of a lack of stomach acid (hydrochloric Acid=Betaine) and low bile (which is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder). Frequent use of antacids, a low potassium diet, a high carbohydrate diet and stress commonly create the condition. The proper supply of stomach acid and bile will kill incoming bacteria and keep it down to a minimum in the small intestine. The bile salts that are found in your bile further scrub the colon clean after digestion. About 90% of your bacteria should be in the large intestine and quite far down the system where it has important duties.

The feces odor associated with SIBO is fiber that has been fermented in the small intestine by the bacteria overgrowth. Normally you wouldn’t have much bacteria in the small intestine, so fibre can pass through without being acted upon and eventually exit with a bowel movement. Without the acid to create a minimal-bacteria environment this fibre begins to ferment, rot and smell and can lead to more complications.

Another result of SIBO can be pale feces from all the undigested fat that needed bile to be broken down. When you don’t break down fats you don’t absorb the A, D, E, K1, K2 fat soluble vitamins that are in the fat. Theses vitamins give you strong bones and teeth, beautiful skin, hair and nails and beautiful muscle definition, most of the traits we associate with youth and natural beauty. Black feces has a lot of undigested protein and possibly blood. If you have black feces you need to go see your doctor to rule out blood as the possible colouring agent. In both cases you do not get the nutrient from the food you did not digest and the process will have caused inflammation throughout the system to differing degrees.  

Because SIBO is the result of liver, gallbladder and stomach health, neck and shoulder pain plus headaches are also common. When the gallbladder becomes inflamed and swells the nerve that runs behind it and up to the neck and skull can get pressed and squeezed causing symptoms that can lead to a migraine. Note: Most common headaches are caused by gallbladder related issues. 

So, what can you do?

SIBO is not a life sentence, but does require food changes and some temporary restrictions.

Step 1: Begin Breaking Down Food Properly

Get yourself:

  1. Bile ( ,
  2. Enzyme (
  3. Betaine (Hydrochloric Acid) (

pills. Be prepared to take these digestive on a semi-permanent basis.

Take at a minimum 1 of each, about 5-10 minutes before you eat a meal that typically would give you indigestion. We each make different amounts of acid, bile and enzymes, so stress, some foods and what time of day it is will influence our need for more bile, acid and enzymes. Most people take between 2-4 of each at their main meal, depending upon their liver and gallbladder health. If you get discomfort with every meal, then take pills for all meals. Experimentation is often the best method for finding out how much you need. Start with 1 of each and add until you find out what works best for you. If you forget to take your pills before eating, you can take them within an hour afterward, just eat something small like half a carrot with the late pills.

Note: DO NOT buy or use Bile Salts (Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) to clean the small colon of excess bacteria and fermented fibre. It comes from the gallbladder of a bear or is synthetic. Avoid both. Use regular bile, which contains bile salts in proper proportions and make the changes necessary to clean out the small intestine gently and ethically.

Step 2: Reduce Your Bacteria Intact (for now)

I thought I’d never say this, but stop taking your probiotic. Until you can get the bacteria under control in your small colon, it is best to not add to your problem by taking probiotics. Under this condition they are not a benefit and can’t help you in any way to deal with the situation. So, for now hold off on the probiotic for about 6 months while you make the changes necessary and give your body time to make the adjustments and corrections.

Step 3: Clean-out The Fermented Fibre That Is In The Small Colon

Take your bile regularly and stop eating grains and legumes. Theses are sugary fibres that are easily fermented in the gut. Your diet should utilize meat (optional) and vegetable fibre found in lettuce, broccoli, garlic, onion…etc. If you are open to the idea, Dr. Eric Berg suggests going on a Carnivore diet for 3 months to clean out the fermented fibre. Meat has a great deal of fibre, so your feces will get its fibre, but it isn’t sugary fibre, so bacteria will not be able to ferment it. Whatever you choose, removing further fibre intake will allow the colon to work on cleaning out what is there with the help of the bile pills and Step 4.

Step 4: Repair The Colon With Intermittent Fasting (IF)

The colon needs time to do its work and if it is continuously being filled before emptying out complications develop. Part of what the colon needs to do after each meal is clean itself. To give your system the time it needs, you need to not eat so often.

The standard IF pattern is 16/8, 16 hours of fasting with an 8 hour eating window. This looks like coffee/tea in the morning, lunch at noon and dinner by 7:30. Drinking tea, coffee, water, broth and other zero sugar/fat liquids is not eating, doesn’t involve the colon and will not break a fast. Avoid snacking during your eating window, or work to break the habit. Snacking keeps the colon filled and has other bad features associated with it.

Last Word

It takes time for the body to heal, but if you make the needed changes the body begins healing immediately and every day you will feel a little bit better, and a little more like your old self again. If you need support through the process, or advice I do take appointments. Call me at: 250-594-3332 to set-up an appointment. Sometimes just getting started and understanding what you need to do is all it takes to put you on the road to recover.