I’ve lately been talking a lot about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, such as in this Undoctored Blog post, The Fecalization of America.
This is proving to be bigger than I originally thought—far, far bigger.
Several years ago, I dismissed SIBO as the unfortunate lot of only a few people, especially those with dysbiosis (disrupted bowel flora) resistant to basic Undoctored and Wheat Belly efforts such as wheat/grain elimination, taking a high-potency multi-species probiotic, with SIBO uncovered by intolerance to prebiotic fibers. It is looking to be much larger than that.
SIBO is proving to be the Everyman’s (and Woman’s) Disease. I believe that it is on a par with the epidemic of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes that now exceeds 100 million Americans—100 million, or roughly 1 in 3 people. I believe that SIBO afflicts a similar number of people. And the people without SIBO? They are likely on their way to developing it, given modern dietary habits and other factors. In study after study, for example, SIBO has been shown to be present (generally via H2-breath testing or retrieval of jejunal samples via endoscopy) in up to 84% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), 100% of people with fibromyalgia, and even 20-40% of the “normal” control population.
In past, epidemics were caused by mosquitoes, drinking tainted water, inadequate sewage—issues we have largely solved. Today, widespread epidemics are caused by “official” government health advice, the practices of Big Agribusiness and Big Food, healthcare personnel who dispense dietary advice, with doctors uselessly prescribing drugs (including antibiotics that contribute to SIBO) to address this or that symptom while never addressing the root cause. Yes: the people we have entrusted with our health and welfare have gotten it wrong with enormous implications for health.
Think of it: If IBS is the same as SIBO, we now add 30+ million people to the list with SIBO. Add all the silently suffering, undiagnosed people with IBS, and it is probably double that number. Add the 4-5 million people with fibromyalgia. Add the 25 million people with one or more autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, etc. What about restless leg syndrome, depression, migraines, type 2 diabetes, obesity. We are talking about staggering numbers of people who have this condition.
This is not just an occasional odd person with peculiar gastrointestinal symptoms. We are talking about every third American—regardless of age—that likely has this condition that, over time, leads to autoimmune diseases, weight gain, irritable bowel symptoms, fibromyalgia, restless legs, even diverticular disease, colon cancer, and dementia. Just ask the people around you: Can you eat beans? Do you have loose bowels that develop without warning? Are you constipated (i.e., methanogenic SIBO, or infestation with methane-causing microorganisms)? Think of the growing number of twenty- and thirty-somethings being diagnosed with colon cancer.
SIBO is epidemic. There’s a good chance you and the people close to you have it.
Why is this happening? I know of no single cause. It is probably the end-result of a long list of causes that includes over-consumption of grains and sugars, exposure to antibiotics, antibiotic residues in foods, pesticide and herbicide residues in foods, GMO containing Bt toxin and glyphosate, acid-blocking drugs like Prilosec and Aciphex, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, failure to consume fermented foods and prebiotic fibers, among others.
While just following the basic Undoctored Wild, Naked, Unwashed program, as detailed in the Undoctored book, can reverse some milder cases of SIBO, most people have to take further steps that include a course of antibiotics that wipe out the Enterobacteriaecea species that have ascended up the ileum, jejunum, duodenum, and stomach, followed by vigorous efforts to prevent recurrences that are the rule, rather than the exception. If you are interested, we have many discussions about how to manage your own SIBO in our Undoctored Inner Circle, including an Undoctored SIBO protocol and weekly live conversations to discuss all the ins and outs on our Virtual Meetups via video. And, interestingly, our L. reuteri yogurt may figure prominently in efforts to prevent recurrence, at least given preliminary observations.