Anna Lewandowska admitted that she struggles with SIBO, i.e. small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome. This disorder is sometimes associated with irritable bowel syndrome, but there are many potential causes. SIBO sufferers are often advised to follow a special diet, although the expert notes that the evidence for its effectiveness “is limited.”
“What can I eat sweet? For now, I’m keeping low FODMAP because of SIBO… Who of you has struggled with this problem?” – this is the entry Anna Lewandowska posted in her Instagram stories on October 3. The sportswoman, personal trainer and dietitian promoting a healthy lifestyle admitted for the first time that she struggles with SIBO, which is increasingly diagnosed in patients with symptoms of the digestive tract. What is this disorder?
SIBO – what is it? Causes and symptoms
The full name SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) in Polish is the syndrome of bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine. This disorder is characterized by an excess of bacteria living in the small intestine. It occurs when microorganisms from the large intestine migrate to the small intestine, multiplying and causing gastrointestinal problems.
According to the National Center for Nutrition Education on its website, SIBO is most often associated with irritable bowel syndrome, but there are more disorders and diseases in which it may occur. This includes: gastrointestinal motility disorders, abnormalities in the anatomical structure of the gastrointestinal tract, immune deficiencies, as well as digestive and absorption disorders (e.g. in the course of chronic pancreatitis, Crohn’s disease, liver diseases, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease).
SIBO diagnosis and treatment
As a clinical dietitian explains on the NCEŻ website Agata Stróżyk, “the most common symptom of SIBO is flatulence, but may also include: diarrhea, pain or discomfort in the abdominal cavity, nausea and constipation. Sometimes steatorrhea stools may appear (having a characteristic very unpleasant smell, floating on the surface of the water and/or difficult to rinse off), weight loss, anemia or nutritional deficiencies. As the expert adds, the basic test in the diagnosis of SIBO are hydrogen breath tests with glucose or lactulose.
“Treatment of SIBO should be aimed at finding the cause of the disorder. If the cause is a co-occurrence of a disease, then its treatment is important in the management. In the case of anatomical abnormalities, surgery may be necessary. In patients with SIBO, antibiotic therapy is the first-line treatment” – we read on the National website Nutrition Education Center.
SIBO and the FODMAP diet
In her entry, Lewandowska mentioned the so-called low FODMAP diet. It’s short for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. The term refers to a group of fermentable carbohydrates that are not broken down in the small intestine. This diet involves limiting foods high in FODMAPs.
It is therefore inadvisable to eat certain fruits (including apples, plums, peaches and watermelons), vegetables (e.g. cauliflowers, cabbage, peas, lentils, beets, dairy products (ice cream, cottage cheese, yogurt), milk and white chocolate, processed meat, bread and products made from wheat, cereal and barley flour.
Stróżyk, in his article on the website of the National Center for Nutrition Education, points out that “scientific evidence regarding the use of a diet (low FODMAP – ed.) in the treatment of SIBO is limited.” “The FODMAP-restricted diet is often used to alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which may co-occur with SIBO. Therefore, it has been suggested that this type of diet may also help alleviate the symptoms of SIBO. There is currently no justification for routinely recommending dietary modifications for SIBO, but a FODMAP-limiting diet may be advisable for some people,” summarizes the expert, who is also the author of a book about this diet.
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