Is SIBO the Reason You Can’t Lose Weight?

July 5, 2018
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

If you wake up in the morning with a flat belly, but bloat so much you look six months pregnant by the end of the day, then SIBO may be the reason you can’t lose weight.

With obesity rates on the rise and over half the US population overweight, it seems like it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to lose weight. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t your lack of willpower causing it. Despite the wide range of diets, workout videos, gym routines, and weight loss prescriptions, our country is having a hard time putting all the pieces together and solving the weight loss puzzle.

What’s missing? The big picture. We need to go beyond the weight itself and look at the overall health of each person and the factors in our environment that make us fat, sick, and tired. We need to consider the impact of stress, toxins, hormone imbalances, contaminated water and air, radiation and EMFs, poor diet, lack of exercise, and inflammation. But, most importantly, good health – and weight loss – starts in the gut.

Your Gut Rules Your Weight

Anyone who has exercised and eaten healthy and still hasn’t lost weight can tell you there’s more to the picture than calories. If you don’t have the right balance of bacteria in your gut, your weight won’t budge despite your best efforts. Recent research has uncovered the importance of intestinal flora, known as the microbiome, to the state of our overall health and our ability to lose or gain weight. Bacteria that help us break down bile salts and waste products are essential to the health of the colon, but when they move up into the small intestine, they can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and even weight gain as a result of nutrient deficiencies and fat malabsorption. This is called SIBO.

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) has practically become a household word in recent years. Researchers believe it’s due to having more understanding of the importance of healthy intestinal flora, known as probiotics, along with better diagnostic tests. Up to 85 percent of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), 50 percent of liver cirrhosis patients, and up to 50 percent of those with Celiac Disease all have tested positive for SIBO in studies. But, SIBO doesn’t stop at weight gain and digestive symptoms; there are also systemic illnesses like Diabetes associated with it, and 15 percent of healthy people with no symptoms also tested positive.

10 Signs You May Have SIBO

There’s a wide range of symptoms associated with SIBO, including:

    1. Gas and Bloating
    2. Diarrhea and/or Constipation
    3. Abdominal pain and cramping
    4. Food allergies and intolerances, including lactose fructose, and Histamine Intolerance
    5. Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), Leaky Gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Celiac Disease, or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
    6. Liver Cirrhosis, Bile issues and Fat Malabsorption (greasy or pale smelly stools and short transit times)
    7. Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies, especially Vitamin B12, Calcium and Zinc
    8. Osteoporosis
    9. Unintended weight loss or weight gain
    10. Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Autoimmune Diseases

How SIBO Makes You Fat

Whether it affects the breakdown, burning, or storage of it, anything that disrupts your fat metabolism is known as an obesogen. SIBO is an obesogen, which means it can make you fat. In fact, a 2013 study showed that the presence of even a small amount of one SIBO-causing bacteria resulted in significant weight gain. This bacteria is extremely efficient at extracting calories from food, which is great if you’re in a famine, but not so great when you’re trying to lose weight.

SIBO also causes weight gain by causing intestinal inflammation. Anytime your intestines are inflamed, they don’t break down or absorb nutrients well. Inflammation also slows down transit times, allowing unhealthy microbes to overgrow as the undigested food sits, waiting to be broken down. During that sitting it also ferments and even rots, causing the digestive symptoms SIBO is so famous for, and inviting unwanted guests like Candida to show up and help with the fermentation process. Once Candida overgrows, a whole new set of symptoms shows up, and weight loss becomes an uphill battle you are just too tired to fight.

What You Can Do About SIBO

The diagnosis of SIBO comes after a gastroenterologist performs a breath hydrogen test, breath methane test, or small intestine biopsy. Their prescriptive cure is antibiotics targeted to the common bacteria that cause SIBO. Some may also suggest a low FODMAPs diet while on the therapy, to help relieve symptoms. While all of this can provide some relief, none of it gets to the root cause of SIBO, and their short-term fix leads to a long-term problem.

The primary cause of SIBO is actually hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid. Healthy stomach acid levels regulate the bacterial counts in the upper small intestine. When there is a lack of stomach acid, which is especially common with the use of H2 blockers and PPI acid reducers (think Zantac and Prilosec, among others), bacteria are allowed to overgrow in the small intestine, causing SIBO. Studies have been done that show over half of all patients using PPIs like omeprazole (Prilosec) develop SIBO as a result.

Your natural plan of attack for overcoming SIBO should include restoring healthy stomach acid levels, reducing the bacterial count in the small intestine, and restoring balance to the microbiome. UNI KEY’s HCL+2 is natural support for restoring healthy stomach acid levels and reducing the amount of bacteria going into the small intestine. Next, you need to go after the bacteria wreaking havoc in the small intestines. This is where Para-Key comes in. It contains botanicals that “prune” the population of unhealthy bacteria in the small intestine, without the harshness of antibiotics.

A nutrient dense, low sugar diet is essential to overcoming SIBO. Summertime fare is full of fruits, sugars, simple carbs, starches, and cocktails – the favorite foods of all types of intestinal flora – good and bad. As tempting as it is to indulge in all the fresh fruits and fruit smoothies this time of year, if you’re fighting SIBO, you need to abstain from all sugars, including fruits, fruit juices, processed sugars, corn syrup, starchy foods, and alcohol.

Eradicating SIBO is more of a marathon than a sprint. It can take 3 months on a low sugar diet and supplements, or even longer if Candida is in the picture. If sugar cravings are intense, it’s likely you have Candida overgrowth as well. It’s helpful to add Y-C Cleanse to your regimen to restore the balance to your microbiome. Oil of oregano capsules (not oregano essential oil) taken twice daily can be helpful as well.

When you have SIBO, it’s important to hold off on taking probiotics. With SIBO, probiotics actually add fuel to the fire. The lactobacillus and bifidobacteria that are so famous for restoring healthy intestinal flora can actually contribute to the overgrowth in the small intestine and should be avoided until healthy stomach acid levels are restored and the small intestine flora is back in balance. Try adding them back in after 30 days of diet and supplements. If you notice bloating or other unwelcome symptoms coming back, take a break from probiotics and probiotics foods for another 60 days or until you no longer need bacteria-fighting botanicals.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This