There are a number of issues that can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, pain, excess flatulence, smelly flatulence, constipation and /or diarrhoea. Apart from these symptoms being uncomfortable to say the least, a healthy gut is imperative for a healthy immune system.
Small Intestinal Bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO is a process that occurs when abnormal amounts of bacteria migrate into the small intestine, due to increased acidity in the large colon. Bacteria in the small intestines leads to fermentation of foods which can cause gas, boating, pain, diarrhoea or constipation as well as reduced absorption of necessary nutrients from food. This process can cause damage to microvilli which further reduces digestion of food, increases fermentation of food and increases intestinal permeability which impacts the whole body. Other than the above gastrointestinal symptoms SIBO can place extra burden on the liver leading to the inability to detoxify efficiently, and so toxins recirculate in the body and lead to array of symptoms such as: intolerances to chemicals and perfumes, foggy brain, behavioural problems, allergies and hypersensitivities, skin rashes, immune deficiency, muscular aches and fatigue and interference with the regulatory control of hunger signalling.
The treatment for SIBO entails reducing the food sources of gastrointestinal bacteria, killing off the bacteria, restoring microvilli function, restoring gastrointestinal integrity and motility, improving the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food, and restoring depleted nutrients.
Overgrowth of particular Bacteria or fungal species
This is when certain bacteria or yeasts that normally lives within the digestive tract becomes over populated. This can occur from: Antibiotic use wiping out good bacteria that keeps the bacterial balance; poor dietary choices such as refined carbohydrates, sugar and starches which create an acidic environment in which certain bacterial and fungal species can flourish in.
Different bacteria have been associated with different diseases, one example is Klebsiella which has been associated with pneumonia, urinary tract infections, diarrhoea, ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthropathies. Recent evidence looks at the link between chronic inflammation and cancer development, and one of the causes among others of chronic inflammation can be bacterial/yeast infection. There is a link between bacterial infection causing prostate inflammation that may lead to prostate cancer.
Treatment entails functional testing for the specific microbe that is in high levels and what it is susceptible to (or what can kill it off), then reduction of its food source, restoring gastrointestinal integrity and motility, restoring microvilli function , restoring healthy gut flora, improving the breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food, and restoring depleted nutrients.
Food intolerances can be very hard to detect because the reaction can occur anywhere from 4 to 6 hours up to 72 hours after having the offending food. Also it is amazing when tested how many people have reactions to normal healthy foods such as lemon, garlic, green beans, rice and pineapple just to name a few. Everyone’s immune system is unique in what it will react to and these reactions can cause inflammation and IBS type symptoms.
Dietary tips for a healthy microbiome
Try to aim for 3 balanced meals a day as overeating disrupts the migrating motor complex that helps to keep bacteria in the correct area of the digestive tract. Overeating also places extra burden on the pancreas by having to continuously produce insulin.
Foods that promote healthy gut flora
Eggs, Butter, Salt, Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts, Rice & Beans, Meat, Poultry, Fish, Gluten-free Grains.
Foods that promote unhealthy gut flora
Wheat, Barley, Rye, Oats, Fried food, Oil in a bottle, Well-done red meat, Meat containing nitrates, Baked potato skins, Carbonated drinks during a meal.
A balanced meal would consist of:
- 35% vegetables and/or salad, this equates to 9 serves a day of a variety of colours. One serve is equal to one handful of the person eating the food.
- 15% wholegrains, pulses and legumes, this is approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Wholegrains should be predominantly gluten free and include brown rice (also basmati and wild), quinoa, amaranth, millet, chickpeas, lentils and all beans. Breads should be good quality stone ground, wholegrain sourdough and only eaten occasionally.
- 30% protein. High sources of protein are eggs, meat, poultry, fish and nuts and seeds. One serve should be no larger than the size of the back of the palm of the hand of the person eating it. Protein are also obtained from combining wholegrains, pulses and legumes and nuts and seeds.
- 20% good fats, sources include avocado, flax, fish oil, nuts and seeds, olive oil, butter, ghee and coconut oil. Two tablespoons in total per day is optimal.
- Eating fermented foods in a healthy gut can help keep microbiome healthy.
- Drinks 2 litres of filtered water per day.
- These dietary guidelines are for a standard healthy person and may need to be modified for certain metabolic types and health conditions for example illness/disease, pregnancy, growth and athletes.
- Reduce refined carbohydrates, sugars, high starch foods, excess coffee, excess alcohol intake as well as excess protein intake.
Dietary modification and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders can sometimes lead to unpleasant side effects for up to a week, some of these symptoms can include flu like symptoms, aches and pains, foggy brain, malaise, unpleasant and excess flatulence and loose stools just to name a few.
A health practitioner who is experienced in working with gastrointestinal issues will be able you guide you safely and effectively through these steps.
Kim Carolan holds a degree in Naturopathy with further training in holistic counselling, live and coagulated blood microscopy, biomesotherapy and German biological medicine (Sanum). She operates out of Pulse Holistic Medical Practice in Minyama on the Sunshine Coast, and is passionate about helping people reach their optimal health goals. She has special interest in digestive health, anxiety, depression and autoimmune conditions.
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