What you need to know about SIBO Part 2
What you need to know about SIBO Part 2
By Rebecca Coomes, Author and Founder of The Healthy Gut
Last week I covered Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) and how it is a major cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This week I look at how you treat it, who can treat it and how I had to change more than just my diet to regain my health.
SIBO is treated with a two-phase approach: diet to starve the bacteria and prevent them from multiplying, and treatment to kill the bacteria. This is done with antibiotics, herbal supplements, or both.
After a lifetime of antibiotic use, I decided I wanted to treat my condition naturally, so I chose to take herbal supplements.
It is important to work with a qualified practitioner who has experience with SIBO, as the recovery journey can be a long one. I had quite a severe case of SIBO and was fortunate to be working with a Naturopath who specialised in SIBO. She was able to work with me on the treatment itself, but also help me to manage my multiple food sensitivities, fatigue, resistant weight loss and mineral deficiency.
Upon diagnosis I decided I was going to do whatever it took to get well again. I was sick of feeling sick and didn’t want it to last another moment. The SIBO diet is restrictive, cutting out all gluten, dairy, grains, sugars (including fruit initially), fermentable fibres, alcohol and processed food. This left me with a strict Paleo-style diet, which was incredibly healthy, but initially a challenge mentally to comprehend. There were no SIBO cookbooks in existence, so I began documenting my meals and have since authored two SIBO cookbooks (SIBO Summer Cookbook and SIBO Family Favourites Cookbook).
I knew that even a small slip-up whilst treating my SIBO would cause me to not only feed the bacteria, but also regress in my treatment. I found incredible inner strength, determination and willpower, which I never knew existed. I learnt to say no to things and realised regaining my health needed to be my number one priority.
Within a few weeks my symptoms had all but vanished and I felt remarkable. My brain fog lifted and I felt like I was finally seeing clearly. Gone was the fuzzy thinking and in its place was crystal clear mental clarity and a brain that felt like it was processing things at speeds I’d never experienced before.
After a lifetime of chronic illness, I realised I needed to make some significant changes if I was ever going to feel well again because changing my diet wasn’t going to be enough to recover my health. This lead me to develop my five pillars to health:
I had spent my life being super busy and I had forgotten how to stop and listen to my body. It gave me very clear signals when it wasn’t happy, yet I was conditioned to mask them with over-the-counter medications. If I’d had heartburn I would take an antacid. If I had constipation I would take a laxative. I stopped doing this and started to connect the dots. What I put in my mouth, my surroundings and stress levels all had an immediate effect on my body, so I started taking note of what was happening and being more mindful of it.
Let food by thy medicine became my anthem. I could see that I had the power to change my health by changing my nutrition. I chose to eat pasture fed and finished meat, organic free-range poultry and sustainable line-caught fish and seafood. I bought organic fruit and vegetables where possible, and increased my intake of good quality fats. I rarely ate processed food, instead choosing real food over frankenfood, foods made by humans in laboratories and factories.
I had become sluggish and wasn’t getting out and moving nearly enough. I had used the excuse that I was busy or unwell for years, so it was time to face up to the fact that I needed to do something about it. The digestive system benefits greatly from movement, so given I was chronically constipated, it was time to move to help everything else move. I found a personal trainer who was willing to work with my limitations, while keeping me accountable. I organised walks with friends and started walking to the shops instead of driving.
I had to take a long hard look at myself as I commenced my SIBO treatment. I fundamentally struggled with the notion that I would ever feel well again. Yet I knew this limiting belief was holding me back. I had become negative, a common condition when you have been chronically ill, seeking the reasons why something would fail, rather than succeed. Changing my mindset took time and a consistent approach, and it is something I still work on today. I now look for the positives, such as small, incremental changes to my health. As soon as I started believing I would be well again, my recovery sped up.
Prior to my SIBO diagnosis, I didn’t have a lifestyle that supported my health recovery. I had to make some tough decisions. I gave up alcohol for six months and found myself becoming distant from some friends who drink heavily. My interests had changed and I wanted to surround myself with people who were interested in health, not hangovers. I developed new healthy habits that would set me up for success, rather than return me to ill health.
Today I feel amazing. I am now finally living the life I always dreamt of and am passionate about helping others return to optimal health. This is why I launched The Healthy Gut, so I could build a community of experts to help others heal their gut and improve their health. I offer several coaching programs, from an introduction to gut health through to coaching people with SIBO. I also release a new cookbook every year, giving people the tools to eat healthy, nutritious food, which helps heal their gut. I love sharing my recipes with people, which I do on my new cooking show every Wednesday on YouTube.
If you would like to get in touch to learn more about how The Healthy Gut can help you, contact us through one of our platforms below.