Gut Zoo

intestinal bacteriaS

Gut bugs, or gut zoo, is a topic that usually doesn’t see the light of day. A topic your kids probably respond with “TMI, Mom.”  But your health and wellbeing depends on the health of your microbiome.

So what is a microbiome? According to Dr Robynne Chutkan, author of The Microbiome Solution and Gutbliss, “The micro biome refers to all of the organisms that live in or on your body: all of the bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and helminths (worms, for those of us who have them), as well as all of their genes.” [1]  Just thinking about these bugs inside your body might be creeping you out, but they are a part of you — some good and some bad. You have trillions of critters living inside you.  In fact, Chutkan says you have, “more than a billion bacteria in just one drop of fluid in your colon alone.” [2]

Tweetable: SIBO doesn’t belong in your gut zoo. Tweet!

Last week, I mentioned that I have been diagnosed with SIBO, an acronym for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Some of my readers asked some very good questions — “what is SIBO?”, “how do you get it?”, “how do you treat it?”, and “now what do you do?” So in this week’s blog post, I thought I would explore what SIBO is.

The symptoms you present with are closely linked to which species of bacteria are depleted or proliferated.  For me, my first symptoms that caught my attention were the inability to lose weight and adult-onset asthma.  I am a physically active person and seemingly overnight I was wheezing and couldn’t do anything physically stressful without an inhaler.  After asthma was ruled out, I was left confused and determined to find answers.  I made an appointment with a naturopath to get a food intolerance test, because I had read that foods could cause asthma, weight difficulties and a host of other symptoms I was having.  Not surprisingly, I was highly reactive to a lot of foods!  Thus began my journey of healing my gut from leaky gut (intestinal permeability).

I’ve thought I had this think under control many times over the last six years.  I’ve been treated for candidiasis (yeast overgrowth) several times.  I’ve removed gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, almonds, cashews and much more permanently.  I’ve introduced a steady stream of supplements to heal, repair and maintain my gut’s health.  But symptoms like wheezing, bloating, gut distention, resistant weight always kept coming back.  Then I started to have a sensitivity to excessive histamine.

There is research revealing that acquired histamine intolerance can be brought on by SIBO or SIFO (fungus in the small intestines).  Furthermore, DAO (Diamine Oxidase) deficiency remains the leading cause of histamine intolerance. [3]  The enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in your body is manufactured in your intestinal lining.  With the intestinal lining damaged by unwelcome “bad guys,” it is not surprising that the enzyme, DAO, isn’t doing its job properly.  Keep in mind, not everyone with SIBO will be histamine intolerant.

So, I dug into researching other causes of these symptoms.  After resisting my findings, I finally decided to ask my family doctor about SIBO.  Yes, he knew what it was.  But diagnosing it with the provincial healthcare system wasn’t so easy.  I decided to pay for the lactulose breath test out of my family’s budget instead. No surprise — I have SIBO.

Dr Chutkan says, “SIBO is really just another term for dysbiosis that occurs when large amounts of not-so-good bacteria take up residence in the small intestine, causing gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and sometimes diarrhea or constipation.” [4]  I presented with constipation, which is linked to the high levels of methane gas detected on the breath test and the critters, archaea.  Interestingly, archaea feed off the hydrogen gas produced by the bacteria that is overgrown in the small intestine.  Basically, it is a vicious cycle — bacteria overgrows and produces hydrogen gas then archaea feeds off the hydrogen gas and produces methane gas.  Archaea are prokaryotes, meaning that they have no cell nucleus or any other membrane-bound organelles in their cells.

SIBO is not some new diagnosis.  It was identified decades ago, but when Mark Pimentel, author of A New IBS Solution, linked SIBO to possibly being the root to IBS symptoms, well, then SIBO became instantly controversial.  It is documented that slow motility or movement in the intestines allows bacteria to overgrow causing SIBO.  SIBO isn’t new. It isn’t the latest fad. It is real, but largely goes undiagnosed and untreated. [5]

Let’s recap what SIBO is:

  • it is a bacterial infection of the small intestine
  • it is normal to have bacteria in the digestive tract
  • SIBO is too much bacteria and/or the wrong kind of bacteria in the wrong place
  • often it is bacteria which should be in your colon that has “migrated” into the small intestine
  • SIBO is not contagious!

Did you find this topic interesting? Have you been diagnosed with SIBO? Then take a moment to share your experience in the comments. It is always comforting and supportive to know you are not alone in your health battles.

I would remiss, if I did’t offer my assistance as a certified holistic nutritional consultant, especially when I know that to prevent the reoccurrence of SIBO requires a reduced carbohydrate diet with a prokinetic (will discuss in an upcoming post). If you’ve been diagnosed with SIBO or candidiasis, my personal experience and knowledge could assist you in finally winning your battle and preventing dysbiosis from returning.

Call (403.801.5698) or email Brenda today to start your healing journey.


[1] Chutkan, Robynne, MD, FASGE. The Microbiome Solution (New York: Avery, 2015) 3.
[2] Chutkan, 3.
[3] Manzotti G, Breda D, Di Gioacchino M, Burastero SE, “Serum diamine oxidase activity in patients with histamine intolerance,” International Journal of Immunopathology & Pharmacology. 2015 Nov 16.
[4] Chutkan, 68.
[5] Dukowicz, Andrew C., Brian E. Lacy, and Gary M. Levine. “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: A Comprehensive Review.” Gastroenterology & Hepatology 3.2 (2007): 112–122.

About Brenda

As a nutrition consultant and educator, I aim to support you in achieving health and vitality through natural wholesome foods and lifestyle transformation. Ready to change yourself from the inside out? Then contact Brenda today.