COLORADO SPRINGS — We're following up on a story earlier this month about the subtle and persistent warning signs of small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, and how some of the daily symptoms of bloating and abdominal pain can be affected by lifestyle.
Katie Hachuela is a nurse practitioner with Gastroenterology Associates in Colorado Springs, who says, “I do think it's important to note that lifestyle really does play a role. People who are chronically stressed are not going to allow for healing. There is also a diet component you're going to want to limit the fermentable carbohydrates like apples, garlic, onions and asparagus that are really going to feed that bacterial overgrowth. Limiting those items will help to reduce your gas levels and reduce symptoms.”
Besides reducing stress and certain foods, Katie says some other things to consider are the amount of rest you're getting, as well as your overall diet, because it's not just what you're eating, but how you're eating it, and how much.
“People that don't get enough sleep, that's huge and part of healing, and another thing that I find a lot of people do is they don't really have good eating habits. I think it's important to limit the amount of fluid you are drinking with a meal. Chewing is also important, a lot of people only chew about six times before they swallow and that's not enough. Typically it's recommended people chew about 30 times before swallowing. So, there is a lot of room for simple improvements. Also, limiting the meal size or having smaller portions can help, and really trying to eat in a relaxing environment and take some deep breaths before you begin eating can be really helpful.”
Katie says that as we age and our hormones change and that can play a role in our overall digestive health.
“Hormones definitely play into it - but I do find that people that have more hormonal symptoms (in the gut) are usually more cyclical, not more consistent generally with SIBO. This can be a lot of what causes gas or bloating or even some indigestion, heartburn or reflux. Looking at hormones is one of our tools that we have to use to rule things out, and certainly SIBO could have other causes for sure. Many G.I. symptoms could be caused by different things so it's nice to have the capability to do testing and rule it in or out.”
Finally, as Katie mentioned earlier, not only can diet play a role in contributing to SIBO, but certain diets can also be used to treat it as well.
“One is called a low FODmap diet, and that's not a diet you would want to continue long-term because those fermentable carbohydrates are also what feed the bacteria in our microbiome, and that's so important for our health. The FODmap diet is used temporarily but you really want to be able to get over SIBO and then restore a more diverse diet. There's also something called an elemental diet which is a powder that you mix with liquid. I tend to use that more for my more stubborn cases of SIBO because it's hard to tolerate, and you're really not eating any food but certainly it's nice to have options that we can treat SIBO with.”
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