Digestion

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Dr. Rose’s Perspective

The idea behind the SCD is that we want to eliminate the foods that the bacteria thrive on which consist of carbohydrates including starch (grains, beans, starchy vegetables), soluble fiber (grains, beans, vegetables, fruit), prebiotics (often added to your probiotic supplements as “food for the bacteria”, look for inulin, FOS), sugars (fruit, all added sweeteners).  While this list may seem prohibitively restrictive, as Kristy has shared it IS possible to eat beautiful, delicious, fulfilling meals with COMPANY!  Possibly 80% of IBS sufferers really have SIBO. Read more research HERE. Wouldn’t you rather know what you can do about it?  In my experience if you have SIBO you will need antibiotics or herbs to eradicate the problem bacteria along with modifying your diet.  Also important is looking to find the cause of the imbalance to begin with:  motility problems related to nerve damage or medications, gastroenteritis, diabetes.  We are learning more every day about the connection between our micro-biome and our health:  immune health, mental health, digestive health.  Using food to influence the balance of bacteria in our system is one way that we can influence every cell in our body!

Where I am Now (Kristy’s update)

I am now SIBO free!  While I’m extremely grateful and excited about this, I also realize there’s continual work and maintenance to be done.  I receive weekly hydrotherapy sessions from Dr. Rose that will have a positive effect on my general gut motility and the vagus nerve specifically (instrumental in gut health).  I’m follow a loose SCD, which means I generally avoid grains, heavy starches, lactose and sugar but can still go to a restaurant and not ask a waiter a million questions – fantastic!   I’ve begun to add a bigger repetoire of fruits and vegetables back into my diet.  Some of this is trial and error and I’m trying to balance my new found freedom with the knowledge that I am still healing and may always have a somewhat sensitive system.  My journey has been a mixture of learning, healing, and becoming a key advocate of my health.  I am grateful to be on this journey with several brilliant and caring doctors, Louise Rose being one of the most instrumental.  Her natural curiosity and scientific knowledge mixed with empathy and compassion have supported me in both my physical and emotional well being.  And lucky for me, she isn’t just a SIBO specialist but she also focuses on general health so we’ll be able to continue to work on my wellness together.  

Thank you Kristy, for introducing my patients to this area of new research and sharing your personal story.  I’m sure so many people can relate to your experiences!

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Hi, I’m Kristy, a 45-year-old back-to-school student, earning my Master’s of Science in Nutrition.  Dr. Rose has been kind enough to invite me to write a series of guest blog posts, talking about SIBO from a patient perspective.  Dr. Rose will chime in with more information and her thoughts.

What is SIBO?

images-of-human-digestive-system

SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth.  Bacteria from the large intestine can migrate to the small intestine where it wreaks havoc on the overall system.  Some signs of SIBO can include bloating, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, fat malabsorption, abdominal cramping, fatigue, anxiety, leaky gut/food intolerances and acid reflux.   My symptoms of gas, constipation, and eventually diarrhea started out as minor inconveniences and worsened over a couple of years before I understood I needed to see a doctor.  I was covered by Kaiser but was worried that a MD would only prescribe medication to cover up my symptoms, or give me a diagnosis of IBS with no real solution.  I decided to see a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) as NDs are trained to treat the whole person and to ascertain the root cause of symptoms.  The ND I initially saw in Northern California first advised me to remove gluten and dairy from my diet as these are common food allergens which can cause IBS symptoms.  When my symptoms continued to get worse, she tested me for SIBO.  The SIBO test checks for hydrogen and methane gas that are specifically produced by an overgrowth of bacteria.  I tested positive for SIBO. Upon hearing my diagnosis and the prescribed diet, I was angry, frustrated and sad.  I considered myself a gourmand, the person who loves beautiful food, adores cooking with and for other people and cherishes communities who come together to share food around a table.  The trial of giving up dairy and gluten had been very challenging for me but it was only a taste of was yet to come.  

My ND recommended that I immediately start the introduction portion of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  As a student on a very limited budget, I kept in contact with my doctor via email but didn’t have regular appointments until I moved to Portland for graduate school and found Dr. Rose and my GI doctor.  Looking back, I wish I had done more research on SIBO treatments and also seen a ND or nutrition counselor regularly in the beginning as having SIBO had many physical, social and mental implications for me. (Click HERE to learn more about associated symptoms)  I got frustrated navigating my symptoms, cried at more than one restaurant when I couldn’t find anything to eat or was served something other than what I had specifically asked for, worried about malabsorption, had issues concentrating and experienced anxiety and isolation.  I now understand these are all SIBO related but I wish I had found Dr. Rose sooner as she’s played an integral role in educating and supporting me on the road to healing.  

Stay tuned for another blog post by Kristy Regan about her path to wellness!

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