Is your irritable bowel actually SIBO?

Is your irritable bowel actually SIBO?

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, is more and more common now days. I see clients all the time with it. Its not nice to live with and can be resolved.

Did you know that 70% of IBS cases are actually SIBO?

This is currently frequently missed by the much of medical profession as they are not informed.

SIBO is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

This is when the bacteria that usually live in your large bowel proliferate into the small bowel.

A study by the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that 66% of patients who had Celiac disease but followed a gluten-free diet still tested positive for SIBO.

SIBO can be tested, in a breath test.  I also can get an idea if someone has it by taking a case history study and looking at their blood. And I find many of these clients also have intestinal permeability or leaky gut. You can read more about this here Leaky gut and the gut brain connection

Many case are post infectious - this is after a bout of food poisoning or gastro. This can have an auto immune component . The bacteria from the infection cause the immune system to affect the ‘MMC’ - migrating motor complex and the gut transit time. This means you are left with the annoying and inconvenient symptoms that SIBO causes - including bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. I

t’s a bit tricky to treat but can be resolved with the right support

Some Symptoms of SIBO include-

⭐️Bloating after eating

⭐️Feeling of fullness after eating a small amount

⭐️Flatulence

⭐️Constipation

⭐️Diarrhoea

⭐️Reflux

⭐️Cramping

⭐️Nausea

⭐️Skin issues such as eczema and rosacea

⭐️Vomiting

⭐️Fatigue

SIBO needs a specific care to resolve and It is sometimes tricky to treat and can be resolved, if you know how!

It takes more than diet (and more than a FODMAP diet - there are more ‘SIBO specific diets’ out there) and some great supplements and gut brain connection techniques to get people feeling great again!

I have successfully treated clients (and myself) for IBS and SIBO, so know that you do no need to suffer! Please get in contact  here if you would like to ask any question or need my help!

 

Don’t overlook your gallbladder & its affect on your hormones

Don’t overlook your gallbladder & its affect on your hormones

The gallbladder is an overworked gland. It’s a small gland that sits under the liver. The liver produces a substance called bile and the gallbladder (GB)  stores it. Bile is used to break down fats from your diet and also binds to toxins and unwanted hormones such as excess estrogens to be eliminated through your bowels. When the GB is under functioning it will cause fat malabsorption, a build up of toxins in your body and estrogen dominance. AND it will predispose you to gall stones.

Symptoms associated with a under functioning gallbladder include

  • Pain/tenderness under right rib cage
  • Pain between shoulder blades
  • Indigestion, especially after eating fatty food
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of fullness after eating
  • Vomiting
  • burping

HRT and the Pill causes alterations with gallbladder function as theses hormones affect the stickiness of bile and make the gallbladder more sluggish, leading to potential gallbladder problems and stones. And for those of you women in perimenopause, who are estrogen dominant, then the GB can be a contributor.

Thyroxin or T4, is a thyroid hormone that influences GB function. If this hormone is low, it can cause slow bile flow and contribute to formation of gall stones.

What can you do to look after your GB?

Diet should include;

  • Lemon juice in warm water on rising
  • Regularly eat raw beetroot, bitter greens and olives
  • Dandelion root tea
  • Coconut oil, nuts and seeds, oily fish, omega 3 oils
  • Avoid trans fats, red meat, fried foods, reduced processed foods and sugar
  • Avoid over eating!

Supplements can include;

  • Lethicin with meals – sunflower is best, or supplement with choline
  • Taurine
  • marys thistle
  • Turmeric
  • Dandelion root
  • Barberry

Extra tips!

  • Use castor oil packs of the GB area at night
  • Rub a few drops of rosemary oil (in a carrier oil) over your GB

Get in touch if you need support or have questions.

Get in touch here

The healthy foods that can wreck your gut!

The healthy foods that can wreck your gut!

IBS, leaky gut, SIBO and oxalates.

Have you tried many diets, supplements and treatments for your gut issues, yet you still struggle with your symptoms? Do you have IBS, IBD , SIBO, leaky gut, diarrhoea or bloating?

Oxalates, the crystals that can form anywhere in your body including your gut, may be to blame.  Oxalates, if not removed efficiently by your gut bacteria / flora, can cause inflammation and irritation to the gut. If you have leaky gut or candida you will be more sensitive to oxalates in foods and these crystals will accumulate more. Kidney stones are the most well known problem related to oxalates. They can affect your joints, muscles, eyes, liver and thyroid and cause inflammation throughout the whole body.

What are these oxalates?

Oxalates are a molecule (with no nutritional value) that is found in many healthy foods including most nuts and seeds, black beans, kidney beans, spinach, carrots, buckwheat, rye and potatoes.

These crystals care meant to be removed through the bacteria in our gut. But if this balance of bacteria is disturbed – for example after food poisoning, gastro, antibiotic use or poor diet, then the body doesn’t do a very god job of this and the oxalates build up in the body and wreak havoc!

Why do plants contain oxalates?

‘ Plants use oxalate to protect themselves from infection or from being eaten. Oxalate crystals can tear up the “teeth” of the bugs that eat them, and the bugs will stop and leave the plant alone! That’s why oxalate is a good protection for plants that taste good to bugs, but they are a secret surprise for larger creatures who don’t detect oxalate when they eat high oxalate foods, and who lack the ability to sense its toxicity and lack the means to protect themselves from oxalate’s effects.’  (1)

If you are eating lots of nuts and greens and adding raw cacoa to smoothies , then you are getting a HUGE oxalate overload.

Some of the high oxalate foods you may like to avoid are –

  • Beetroot
  • Carrot
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Celery
  • Okra
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Sesame seeds
  • Black beans
  • Navy beans
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Figs
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Kiwi

There or other foods such as FODMAPS and Histamines that also may need to be taken into consideration when helping to heal your gut issues. If you have parasites, candida or a bacterial overgrowth including SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut then you will most probably need to take natural supplements to rectify these issues.

Note - If you decide to try this out, please cut down these foods slowly to avoid a ‘ dumping ‘ reaction, where the body releases stored oxalates and can make your symptoms temporarily worse. Please contact me for support with this or if you would like a consultation to work on your gut issues. In clinic I use live and dried blood analysis to find out the state of your health and whether you have parasites, leaky gut or candida.

For more information on oxalates, check you this website - http://lowoxalate.info/index.html

1 - http://lowoxalate.info/index.html

Leaky gut and the gut brain connection

Leaky gut and the gut brain connection

Gut feelings”…………

“I’ve got a gut feeling about this”. We have all used this expression at some stage of our lives. There is a real relevance to this as our gut really does influence our feelings!

One way this happens is through the vagus nerve. This nerve joins your brain to your intestines, and along the way connects other organs also, such as the heart. It is one of the largest nerve systems in our body, second to the spinal cord. The vagus nerve influences our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the  ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system.

This ‘enteric nervous system’ of the intestines is known as the second brain

gut brain diagragm

Stress, fatigue and anxiety reduces vagal nerve activity. When there is poor vagal nerve activity this manifests as low digestive enzymes secretion and therefore poor digestion of foods and poor gallbladder function. This poor gut function then leads to overall inflammation in the body and this inflammation inhibits vagal activity. It’s a vicious cycle! It can lead to IBS symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome) with symptoms such as erratic bowel movements, bloating, flatulence and intestinal cramps.

Poor vagal activity               →                          Decreased gut, pancreatic and  gallbladder function

↑                                                                                                                                                                  ↓

Mental health disorder              →           POOR BRAIN   FUNCTION                      decreased gut immune system & intestinal blood flow

↑                                                                                                                                                       ↓

Leaky blood brain barrier                                     ←                                    pathogenic gut bacteria

and activation of microglial cells                                                                 leaky gut, low grade inflammation

*Microglial cells are immune cells which can cause inflammation of the brain.

Leaky gut …. Leaky brain

Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is when your small intestine becomes more permeable and unwanted molecules are absorbed back into the blood stream instead of being excreted. This is a leaky gut barrier.

This is more prevalent today and I see it regularly in my clinic.

Leaky gut  can be caused by;

  • food allergies or intolerances
  • intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in bowels)
  • pathogens such parasites, bacteria or candida
  • from frequent antibiotic use
  • ongoing severe stress
  • poor dietary choices.
  • Poor digestion and/or low stomach acid
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Frequent NSAIDS, antacids or aspirin use

Leaky gut leads to inflammation which can increase production of  cortisol (from the adrenal glands) and reduces the function of the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA, which makes us feel calmer. Therefore leaky gut can lead to anxiety. It can also result in  poor sleep, reduced production of serotonin and melatonin (our sleep hormone) and chronic pain.

The inflamed brain, anxiety, fatigue and poor memory

Leaky gut can cause symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and even depression.

These symptoms occur when the leaky gut causes inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can access the brain (the blood brain barrier)  and lead to negative brain and mood health. If this is ongoing it reduces brain cell function. If it happens in the hippocampus of the brain, this contributes to low mood and cognitive function, therefore memory is affected.

“Inflammatory, toxic and oxidative stressors that arise from leaky gut can deteriorate blood brain barrier integrity. This allows the passage of unwanted compounds into the central nervous system, setting off a cascade of damaging reactions”. (1)

An example of this is the high levels of ‘MMP -9’s’ in people with schizophrenia and depression. MMP-9  is ‘matrix metalloproteinase -9’ which is a specific proteolytic enzyme which breaks down the ‘extracellular matrix’ (the complex meshwork which fills the space between the cells of your body’s tissues).

Leaky gut breaks down tryptophan, which is an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin (our happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone). You produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in your gut. It also activates our HPA axis, which is the communication of the hypothalamus, pituitary  (glands of the brain) and the adrenals.   Which can over activate the production of cortisol and adrenalin, leading to anxiety.

Over exercising is a form of inflammation which can contribute to leaky gut. So if you have a leaky gut then reduce your exercise to light to moderate.

When homocysteine levels are high, as mentioned in my previous blog on MTHFR, this results in inflammation and MMP-9 and increases intestinal permeability (yes, the leaky gut again!). This high homocysteine can be linked to having the MTHFR gene mutation.

What to do

Treat leaky gut with change of diet and lifestyle, antimicrobials, pre and probiotics and gut healing supplements. As treating leaky gut is quite complex and individualised to each person, consulting a naturopath is the best course of action here. Anti inflammatory herbs such as curcumin (in turmeric) and fish oils can be taken.

Reduce stress, anxiety and reduce exercise if there is too much.

Stimulate the vagus nerve. You can do this by singing loudly, gagging (even though not fun), gargling several times a day, with coffee enemas (not for everyone) and yoga. You could try the following exercise;

Yoga poses for digestion and vagus nerve stimulation

Kneel on a yoga mat with your buttocks on your heels. Put a rolled blanket on your lap and let it rest against your lower abdomen. Inhale to lengthen your spine and then exhale and lean forward over the blanket. Try to reach forward far enough so that you ribs are over the top of the blanket. Slowly walk your fingers forwards reaching your head down towards the mat. Breathe fully and stay in the pose as long as you like. To exit the pose just walk your hands back into a seated position.

Also deep breathing, in for three and out for five, shuts off the sympathetic nervous system ( the ‘flight and fright’) and allows for vagal activation (which activates the parasympathetic nervous system to do with – resting and digesting!)

Diet

If you have a leaky gut then adhering to an anti inflammatory gluten and dairy free diet for at least 6 weeks is recommended. I also suggest the avoidance of all sugars and processed foods. Anti inflammatory diet would contain oily fish, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, lots of organic vegetables, some fruit and limited gluten free grains such as organic brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa (they are really seeds).

Gluten has been shown to harm the gastrointestinal tract, brain and nervous system. A third of people with gluten sensitivity show no symptoms. Wheat is especially highly processed now days and it is harder to digest.

Eliminate known allergens and food sensitivities or test for these. You can also try an elimination diet and slowly introduce one food at a time to observe reactions.

Mood and gut health, to sum up…

Having and maintaining a good bacterial balance in the gut will improve;

  • Digestion and nutrient uptake
  • The immune system
  • neurotransmitter production (ie serotonin)
  • protection against toxic agents and heavy metal toxicity that can reduce mental and cognitive health
  • prevention leaky gut
  • prevention of local infections which can cause mood imbalances

As it is a two way street, anxiety and stress can cause leaky gut and leaky gut can cause anxiety and low mood. Re-establishing the microflora (the good bacteria) in the intestines plays an the important role of maintaining healthy moods in the long term.

If you suspect you have a leaky gut or are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, please contact me for a consultation.

References

Biological mood management and mental health. Stacey Jarvis.

Dr. Sircus “The function of the vagus nerve”

(1) FX Medicine spring 2014. ‘The state of mind – How gut health affects the brain’. Bioceuticals trade manual

The digestive and renal systems ; Henry Oseiki and Fiona Meeke

The gut brain connection

The gut brain connection

THE GUT BRAIN CONNECTION

Gut feelings……..

“I’ve got a gut feeling about this”. We have all used this expression at some stage of our lives. There is a real relevance to this as our gut really does influence our feelings!

One way this happens is through the vagus nerve. This nerve joins your brain to your intestines, and along the way connects other organs also, such as the heart. It is one of the largest nerve systems in our body, second to the spinal cord. The vagus nerve influences our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the  ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system.

This ‘enteric nervous system’ of the intestines is known as the second brain

 

gut brain diagragm

Stress, fatigue and anxiety reduces vagal nerve activity. When there is poor vagal nerve activity this manifests as low digestive enzymes secretion and therefore poor digestion of foods and poor gallbladder function. This poor gut function then leads to overall inflammation in the body and this inflammation inhibits vagal activity. It’s a vicious cycle! It can lead to IBS symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome) with symptoms such as erratic bowel movements, bloating, flatulence and intestinal cramps.

Poor vagal activity               →                          Decreased gut, pancreatic and  gallbladder function

↑                                                                                                                                                                  ↓

Mental health disorder              →           POOR BRAIN   FUNCTION                      decreased gut immune system & intestinal blood flow

↑                                                                                                                                                       ↓

Leaky blood brain barrier                                     ←                                    pathogenic gut bacteria

and activation of microglial cells                                                                 leaky gut, low grade inflammation

*Microglial cells are immune cells which can cause inflammation of the brain.

 

Leaky gut …. Leaky brain

Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is when your small intestine becomes more permeable and unwanted molecules are absorbed back into the blood stream instead of being excreted.his is a leaky gut barrier.

This is more prevalent today and I see it regularly in my clinic.

Leaky gut  can be caused by;

  • food allergies or intolerances
  • intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in bowels)
  • pathogens such parasites, bacteria or candida
  • from frequent antibiotic use
  • ongoing severe stress
  • poor dietary choices.
  • Poor digestion and/or low stomach acid
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Frequent NSAIDS, antacids or aspirin use

Leaky gut leads to inflammation which can increase production of  cortisol (from the adrenal glands) and reduces the function of the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA, which makes us feel calmer. Therefore leaky gut can lead to anxiety. It can also result in  poor sleep, reduced production of serotonin and melatonin (our sleep hormone) and chronic pain.

The inflamed brain, anxiety, fatigue and poor memory

Leaky gut can cause symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety and even depression.

These symptoms occur when the leaky gut causes inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can access the brain (the blood brain barrier)  and lead to negative brain and mood health. If this is ongoing it reduces brain cell function. If it happens in the hippocampus of the brain, this contributes to low mood and cognitive function, therefore memory is affected.

“Inflammatory, toxic and oxidative stressors that arise from leaky gut can deteriorate blood brain barrier integrity. This allows the passage of unwanted compounds into the central nervous system, setting off a cascade of damaging reactions”. (1)

An example of this is the high levels of ‘MMP -9’s’ in people with schizophrenia and depression. MMP-9  is ‘matrix metalloproteinase -9’ which is a specific proteolytic enzyme which breaks down the ‘extracellular matrix’ (the complex meshwork which fills the space between the cells of your body’s tissues).

Leaky gut breaks down tryptophan, which is an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin (our happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone). You produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in your gut. It also activates our HPA axis, which is the communication of the hypothalamus, pituitary  (glands of the brain) and the adrenals.   Which can over activate the production of cortisol and adrenalin, leading to anxiety.

Over exercising is a form of inflammation which can contribute to leaky gut. So if you have a leaky gut then reduce your exercise to light to moderate.

When homocysteine levels are high, as mentioned in my previous blog on MTHFR, this results in inflammation and MMP-9 and increases intestinal permeability (yes, the leaky gut again!). This high homocysteine can be linked to having the MTHFR gene mutation.

What to do

Treat leaky gut with change of diet and lifestyle, antimicrobials, pre and probiotics and gut healing supplements. As treating leaky gut is quite complex and individualised to each person, consulting a naturopath is the best course of action here. Anti inflammatory herbs such as curcumin (in turmeric) and fish oils can be taken.

Reduce stress, anxiety and reduce exercise if there is too much.

Stimulate the vagus nerve. You can do this by singing loudly, gagging (even though not fun), gargling several times a day, with coffee enemas (not for everyone) and yoga. You could try the following exercise;

 Yoga poses for digestion and vagus nerve stimulation

Kneel on a yoga mat with your buttocks on your heels. Put a rolled blanket on your lap and let it rest against your lower abdomen. Inhale to lengthen your spine and then exhale and lean forward over the blanket. Try to reach forward far enough so that you ribs are over the top of the blanket. Slowly walk your fingers forwards reaching your head down towards the mat. Breathe fully and stay in the pose as long as you like. To exit the pose just walk your hands back into a seated position.

Also deep breathing, in for three and out for five, shuts off the sympathetic nervous system ( the ‘flight and fright’) and allows for vagal activation (which activates the parasympathetic nervous system to do with – resting and digesting!)

Diet

If you have a leaky gut then adhering to an anti inflammatory gluten and dairy free diet for at least 6 weeks is recommended. I also suggest the avoidance of all sugars and processed foods. Anti inflammatory diet would contain oily fish, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, lots of organic vegetables, some fruit and limited gluten free grains such as organic brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa (they are really seeds).

Gluten has been shown to harm the gastrointestinal tract, brain and nervous system. A third of people with gluten sensitivity show no symptoms. Wheat is especially highly processed now days and it is harder to digest.

Eliminate known allergens and food sensitivities or test for these. You can also try an elimination diet and slowly introduce one food at a time to observe reactions.

Mood and gut health, to sum up…

Having and maintaining a good bacterial balance in the gut will improve;

  • Digestion and nutrient uptake
  • The immune system
  • neurotransmitter production (ie serotonin)
  • protection against toxic agents and heavy metal toxicity that can reduce mental and cognitive health
  • prevention leaky gut
  • prevention of local infections which can cause mood imbalances 

As it is a two way street, anxiety and stress can cause leaky gut and leaky gut can cause anxiety and low mood. Re-establishing the microflora (the good bacteria) in the intestines plays an the important role of maintaining healthy moods in the long term.

If you suspect you have a leaky gut or are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, please contact me for a consultation.

References

Biological mood management and mental health. Stacey Jarvis.

Dr. Sircus “The function of the vagus nerve”

(1) FX Medicine spring 2014. ‘The state of mind – How gut health affects the brain’. Bioceuticals trade manual

The digestive and renal systems ; Henry Oseiki and Fiona Meeke

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