SIBO – What Is It? – Part 1

Nosh Nerd

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

WebMD defines small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – SIBO for short –  as a condition in which the small bowel (also know as the small intestine) has an abnormally high count of bacteria, and in which those bacteria are more like the bacteria found in the colon (also known as the large intestine )1. Too much of the wrong bacteria in the wrong place.


Most of the symptoms of SIBO are non-specific, meaning that they are common for many different digestive conditions. If someone has these symptoms it doesn’t mean they have SIBO, there might be something else going on instead. And while those symptoms might not seem that terrible (who hasn’t had a case of the farts?), they can be incredibly disruptive and even debilitating. Imagine sharp pointy gas moving through your intestines, every day, after every meal, and you can’t do anything about it. Imagine feeling like you have a hangover and a food baby – that’s what it can feel like to be constipated – constantly even if you eat healthy, exercise, and in general do everything “right”. Because SIBO is a digestive condition, like others in the same category, it can and does affect the quality of ones life.

The common symptoms are:

  • Gas
  • Bloating – especially after meals that include starch
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal Distention
  • Difficulty absorbing nutrients

Less common symptoms:

  • Acne
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Carb cravings


There does not appear to be one known cause for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Could it be diet? Some say no2. What I keep hearing is that chronic stress might play a big part in creating an environment in which SIBO could occur3. It could also be low stomach acid do to an infection or the long term usage of certain antacids 4.


For more information about SIBO, SCDLifestyle has a wonderful article, Everything You Need to Know About SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) full of citations for those of you who revel in scientific papers (yay nerdy papers!)5.



2 SIBO – A Four-Letter Word for Bloating

3 Role of stress in functional gastrointestinal disorders.

4 Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome, Jan Bures, Jiri Cyrany, […], and Marcela Kopacova, World J Gastroenterol. Jun 28, 2010; 16(24): 2978–2990.

5 SCDLifestyle


SIBO Series:

 Diagnosis – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – SIBO – Part 2

SIBO – Dietary Treatment – Part 3

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