A New Approach to IBS

SIBO, A New Approach to IBS

When even fiber makes your IBS Worse


Have you been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, but can’t find any relief? You’re not alone.  10-20% of the population in North America has IBS.  Symptoms include altered bowel habits and abdominal pain.  


As a naturopathic doctor, I'm always investigating the underlying cause of IBS.   The most common causes are the following:


1.    Overgrowth of bacteria

2.    Poor diet (processed foods, fast food, irregular eating patterns)

3.    Food intolerances (most commonly gluten, dairy, soy corn, and eggs)

4.    Abnormal digestive function (inadequate digestive enzymes, low beneficial bacteria, leaky gut, poor motility)

5.    Stress

6.    Infections with parasites or yeast

Take a close look at the first cause.  This is a new area of investigation.  Fiber is supposed to make IBS better, right?  For many people, fiber increases their IBS symptoms.  If your digestive symptoms worsen with fiber or high fiber foods such as cabbage or lentils, the cause might be  Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).  SIBO is a new field of investigation for IBS.  In cases of SIBO, the overgrowth of bacteria uses complex carbohydrates to multiply, producing gas that creates discomfort and altered bowel habits.  Even if you've investigated all of the other causes of IBS or been to a gastroenterologist and been told they can't find anything wrong, SIBO has often been overlooked.  


SIBO frequently starts after a course of antibiotics, a parasite infection or a viral illness, though many times the cause is unknown.  SIBO is often an underlying cause of numerous health conditions including acne rosacea, interstitial cystitis, restless leg syndrome, autism, hypothyroid, and acid reflux.   


Testing for SIBO involves a simple home breath test.  Effective treatments use gentle pharmaceuticals and herbs.  Low carbohydrate diets, such as the FODMAPs diet, provide additional support for correcting the bacterial overgrowth. 

 If you're concerned about SIBO, consult these excellent resources and consider making an appointment.