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Part 1 of My SIBO Journey

June 1, 2020

Bloating is a common sign with digestive issues

Over the past six year I have seen many clients with different stages of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). There are so many reasons as to why they were suffering from constipation, diarrhoea (going to the toilet many times a day or having the explosive kind!) or a combination of both, burping, bloating, reflux and/or abdominal pain/cramping. SIBO shares many of the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). About 84% of people who have IBS test positive to SIBO when tested using the SIBO breath test.

The stories from my clients really hit home for me as many were scared to eat out in case they needed the toilet - urgently or may bloat or have abdominal pain due to something that they have eaten. One didn't eat on the day of her wedding as she didn't want a bloated tummy in her wedding photos!

I decided that it was now or never to begin healing my gut as my symptoms were increasing. At the beginning of May I ordered my SIBO breath test as I was bloating more and more after meals and burping a lot during the day. I was finding it difficult to fit into my jeans and other items of clothing. I could no longer blame perimenopause as the only reason why I had put on weight around my belly.

The following weekend I did the preparation diet which I found to be easy to follow along with the big question that most of my clients ask 'Will I be hungry'? No I wasn't hungry and this question was going through my mind as well but I was full and didn't look for any extra food to eat. I must admit that I did keep busy and only cooked for myself that day unless my family wanted scrambled eggs, jasmine rice or broiled chicken and chicken broth.

The following day I submitted my breath test samples. This was straight forward and easy to do as you submit a total of 10 breath samples over a three hour period (start at 8:00 am and finish at 11:00 am.)

The following day (Monday) I sent my breath test samples back to SIBO test Australia and waited about five days for my test results. I knew that my SIBO had returned but kept putting treatment off as there was always a good excuse as to why I couldn't begin my treatment. Does anyone else have this excuse???

Anyway my test results came back with me testing positive to both hydrogen, methane and combined gases which ties in with my digestive issues and bowel habits over the past few months. This is why I love testing my clients as it gives me a good idea as to what is really going on with your gut microbiome and which treatment plan I should use to prevent a relapse.

What's contributed to my SIBO returning?

Stress would be my main factor this time around as I had a couple of close family members pass away over the past eight months with time off to travel back and forth to visit family during this time (my family live five and eight hours away).

I was also running two busy Naturopathy clinics along with keeping a few of my aged care shifts. Then in March our lives changed practically overnight! Naturopathy slowed down for a couple of months as most of my clients were self employed or were just as overwhelmed as we all were with our new 'normal' way of life. My second clinic closed as they were mainly yoga and pilates based. Working from my home clinic in Moggill was the easy part and I needed to learn Zoom and how to do consultations online.

I am now only working from my home clinic and this is working out perfectly! Definitely reduced my stress as it's more relaxed.

As a baby I suffered from really painful colic - thank goodness I have a really patient Mum who went nights on little sleep, so I was basically born with digestive issues. In our current times there is so much we can do to assist the newborn and the Mum on reducing digestive symptoms along with healing the gut.

As a teenager I just felt unwell, we ate really healthy meals as Mum was health conscious and still is but there was something going on with my digestive system that the medical world couldn't find. I was lucky to have a couple of really great Naturopaths that got to the bottom of what was going on. There was lots of testing, dietary plans and supplements but one in particular who was Sydney based (I lived a couple of hours away) and he found that I had candida which was contributing to my digestive issues.

After this was cleared and my digestive health improved I had many years of great health. In the 1990's I had three children all by C-section (for varying reasons), food poisoning in Bali along with taking medications for my thyroid (now I don't take any and haven't for years) along with taking the oral contraceptive pill, only for birth control not to band aid my periods.

Candida, food poisoning, abdominal surgery and stress are all contributing factors to impaired digestive health. Once I began studying Naturopathy I changed my diet, took my supplements and felt amazing, but I still had very mild SIBO symptoms.

Diets that I have tried to help heal my SIBO

I have tried Paleo, Keto, the Blood Type Diet, Vegetarian diet for a period of time and felt great initially but then my symptoms returned. I found out about SIBO and found that I ticked a lot of the boxes as to the signs and symptoms and began studying this fascinating digestive condition.

Believe me there is so much information out there on SIBO - a lot is conflicting and this leads to more stress and overwhelm which is a big NO NO for your digestive health. You really need to have a qualified SIBO Naturopath that understands the underlying causes and different treatment protocols for you - you can't do this by yourself by just changing your diet although it will relieve the symptoms. You will need the correct herbal antibiotics, supplements and keeping a positive mindset as these work in synergy with Naturopathy and your healing process.

The SIBO Biphasic Diet

This is a two phase (3 part) diet program that is based on parts of the low FODMAP diet and the Short-chain Carbohydrate Diet and is a minimum of three months. Most of my clients are on this for longer as they have had their SIBO/IBS conditions for a long period of time. Healing your gut is thought of as one month per year that you have had digestive issues. The length of time really depends on how well you respond to treatment and if there is more than one underlying factor = its important to remember that we are all individuals and are UNIQUE.

This is the diet that I recommend my clients follow as it is researched and works so well, along with amazing recipes to follow or create your own! My family are eating most of the meals that I prepare and love the variety that I cook each week. I'm finally menu planning and cooking SIBO friendly variations to our favourite dishes. Getting back into the kitchen has been a lot of fun but then again I love cooking.

I began the SIBO Biphasic Diet Phase 1 - restricted just over two weeks ago. Some people find that they are hungry during this phase as they are used to snacking and eating sugary foods. As I eat mainly healthy and know that its so important to eat protein and good carbs along with fats with our main meals - I haven't looked at snacking or being hungry.

I have lost two kilograms so far, my bloating has decreased, my bowels are working much better along with a major decrease in burping. You become more aware of what is contributing to your symptoms so you can have a break from those foods. For example, I didn't realise that my green tea that I love drinking was a contributing factor to my burping! So for now this is on hold and I'll re-introduce this in a few weeks.

I'm now starting the Phase 1 - semi restricted where you begin to add foods back into your diet. I've added bananas and blueberries with hazelnut milk - my favourites for a yummy smoothie and thank goodness I haven't had any bloating afterwards. I'm going to add avocado next as that's one of my favourites with a salad or as a snack (guacamole with veggies.)

On another positive note my perimenopausal symptoms have reduced a lot. Compared to other women I have been lucky and haven't had any severe symptoms mainly weight gain especially around the middle, hot flushes and a couple of other issues. I am also sleeping better and I am thinking much clearer compared to a few weeks ago.

Where to from here?

 I will continue adding foods into my diet that are recommended in Phase 1 - semi-restricted and noting any reactions I may have to these foods. Once symptoms have improved and I'm not bloating anymore I will begin Phase 2 of the diet. This will hopefully be in about four to six weeks.

Cooking different meals and looking forward to making more winter comfort foods such as, casseroles, soups and desserts as these are definitely on the  menu over the next month or so.

It is important to find a supportive Naturopath that knows and understands what it is like to experience most of these symptoms and supports you through your SIBO journey. If you are ready to begin this journey and regain control of your life - then please book your consultation with me via my website and lets get started on beating SIBO together xx


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