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Paleo SIBO Diet Saves a Woman’s Life

Paleo SIBO Diet Saves a Woman’s Life

Another person wrote in to me with another Paleo approach to addressing her severe health issues, resulting in a complete health turn around – this is an amazing story of how the Paleo SIBO Diet saves a woman’s life. The term SIBO may be new to many of you, so let’s take a quick look at what SIBO is and why it affects so many people these days (even hormones) and is so undiagnosed. The Paleo Diet can help but there is much more to learn.

In a nutshell SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) referring to a condition in which abnormally large (too many) numbers of bacteria are present in the small intestine, while the types of bacteria found in the small intestine are more like the bacteria found in the colon. This is not optimum and can cause a host of many troubles with health, energy, digestion and you should read the detailed list below.

This can manifest in several different ways. It can occur in those currently or previously eating a diet high in sugar, alcohol and/or refined carbohydrates. Certain strains of bacteria feed off of these carbohydrates and break them down into short-chain fatty acids, creating gas and causing bloating and more! It can be extremely painful.

There is also another strain of bacteria which breaks down bile salts before your body has a chance to use them. Bile salts are necessary for the break down of fats. Without them, the end result is fat malabsorption or diarrhea.

Now there is a third type of bacteria which can produce toxins that then damage the lining of the small intestine. This prevents your body from absorbing the nutrients you need. Soon the person may be diagnosed with “leaky gut”. I really hate that word as it is a SYMPTOM, and not an answer as to WHY the person has leaky gut. That is where a diagnosis of “what is causing my leaky gut” needs to be further looked into. I have my own story I will share on this another time. For now let’s look at some signs and solutions.

Some Signs Of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth – SIBO:

1. Gas

2. Bloating

3. Diarrhea

4. Abdominal pain or cramping

5. Fat Malabsorption

6. Constipation (much less common than diarrhea)

7. Diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease

8. Food intolerances such as gluten, casein, lactose, fructose and more

9. Chronic illnesses –  fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, neuromuscular disorders and autoimmune diseases.

10. B12 deficiency as well as other vitamins and minerals

With these symptoms in mind you can now find out if this may be something you have been dealing with endlessly to no result, as your doctor may not be as familiar with this as well as the testing to diagnose. Stay well informed on all health issues is all I can say. In fact, I would highly recommend that you learn more about this topic and effective solutions to treat SIBO by reading the SIBO Solution, a very well-written eBook by Sylvie McCracken.   

I wrote a separate post in which I go into the various tests, why SIBO is misdiagnosed so often, if or why they may be necessary and how you can dive right into the diet and see if this helps your symptoms now. Please read what was sent to me last week by Jennifer (below) on this very topic. In this same post I also go into the ALCAT test, what delayed reactions versus immediate reactions mean, etc. You will be better informed after reading it.

Jennifer originally reached out to me while in physical distress about 4 months ago. Someone close to her referred her to my site in the hopes that it may help her. We emailed back and forth and, well, please read what she shared. I am sure you will be enlightened.

Why Eliminating FODMAPs is Right for Me ….. sent in by Jennifer Wiegand

I’ve struggled with IBS and allergies all my life. I was the kid with constant hay fever, coughs, stomachaches and big circles under her eyes who always looked stoned.  As a teenager the pain encouraged me to try and find relief through various diet-based lifestyles from Maha Yoga (Vegetarianism), Macrobiotics (a Japanese diet and Ying &Yang philosophy that consists of 50-60% whole grains), Rajneesh/Osho meditations and more vegetarianism to my current Paleo-ish diet.  Over the years I have been medically diagnosed with Diverticulosis, Ciguatera (a permanent neurological debilitating type of seafood poisoning), Borrelia (a tick disease – can’t call it Lyme’s disease because I acquired it in Brazil), arthritis, spondylitis and H. Pylori.

Luckily I’m an abstract artist so creativity in the kitchen and a penchant for embracing the unknown are second nature, constantly encouraging me to experiment in my journey towards health and a better quality of life.

Four years ago Dr. Bethel, my GP here in Freeport, Bahamas suggested I take an ALCAT test. The ALCAT is a blood test that detects food and chemical sensitivities.  My results were interesting. A severe reaction to casein and the recommendation to eliminate cow and goat milk made sense as I always felt horrible after consuming any type of dairy product in the US, Brazil (where I spent 36 years of my life) or the Bahamas. However I can eat as much cheese as I want to in Europe. Why? Because the cows are different! European cows are A2 type cows such as Jerseys, Asian and African cows. American or A1 cows like Holsteins have mutated beta casein, which causes problems for a lot of people.

The ALCAT also determined I have a severe reaction to apples, lima beans, mint, psyllium and sage along with a moderate intolerance (which to me feels more like a major intolerance!) to a bunch of other things like onions, broccoli, cashews, pistachios, mushrooms, baker’s yeast, figs, chickpeas, buckwheat, malt, sunflower, etc. There is also a column in the test results that tells you exactly what you can eat with no problems. Yay!

Finally I had a list I could follow and I did – for a couple of years and then I decided to get adventurous and add some of the things on the “moderate intolerance” list and the stomach pains returned with a vengeance! At about that time when I was experiencing extreme misery and wondering if I was a hypochondriac and this was all just in my head and I was going crazy I heard about the “Caveman Diet”.  Curious as always I began to research and became immersed in the Paleo online community. I only know of one other person here on the island that was familiar with paleo eating. I did my first “Whole 30” based on Doug and Melissa Hartwig’s book “It Starts with Food”. I bought every paleo book I could find on Amazon.com. I got Paleologix supplements from Chris Kresser. I felt an immediate difference from eliminating all dairy (again) and grains.

I have always been an avid sports enthusiast, playing tennis a few times a week and going to the gym on the other days but over the last 5 years I had acquired what I thought was some postmenopausal tummy fat that I immediately dropped when I went Paleo! All signs of any acne and middle age type cellulite disappeared. People started telling me my skin looked great and that I looked younger. The usual 3:00 pm slump disappeared. I was able to stop taking supplements for sleep.

Jennifer Wiegand's Art

“Taking a Walk on my Wild Side” (Tribute to Lou Reed) from
the “Lightness of Being” exhibit that took place in Brazil in February

But then about 2 months after my 2nd “Whole 30” my stomach started hurting again–-to the point where I was becoming suicidal. I felt like it wasn’t worth living 80% of my life in excruciating pain and there were so many days where I couldn’t even get out of bed. I live in paradise here in the Bahamas but I was becoming a total drag for my family. I never wanted to do anything with them because I felt like crap all the time. No amount of painkillers relieved the pain.

I was about to schedule the long ago suggested stomach section (where they surgically remove the inflamed portion of your large intestine and you could end up with a colostomy bag) my gastroenterologist surgeon in Germany had suggested 2 years ago after a colonoscopy (He’s another one that just said “Eat a lot of fiber” – Yeah thanks!), when I went back to Diane Sanfilippo’s book, “Practical Paleo” and reread the chapter on FODMAPs. I hadn’t really tuned in to what FODMAPs were but this time I paid attention and noticed that a lot of the foods on the FODMAP list were the same as the ones my ALCAT test had told me to avoid. I started researching and found the Monash University, Australia website where FODMAPs were first researched and saw the entire list of FODMAPs and the majority of those foods are ones that my ALCAT blood test determined I am severely or moderately intolerant to! Making this connection has changed my life! I guess I didn’t feel like I could trust the ALCAT results 100% because so many doctors give it a bad rap but once I saw the FODMAPs were about the same as my blood test results I knew it was right for me to eliminate those foods in order to regain control of my life. All I needed was to see two actual confirmations for me to believe it was possible. Needless to say, once I eliminated the FODMAPs and other foods the ALCAT test determined were not good for me, I felt 100% better! Cheers to living pain free every day!

I must note that I did not do a standard SIBO test. We didn’t do a test here for the Rifaximin. I had a positive H. Pylori blood test 15 years ago in the US and was treated with Flagyl and Mebendazole. I was treated with both of those and Ciprofloxin for diverticulitis flare ups several times.  My MD, Dr. Bethel recently prescribed the Rifaximin based on his trying to treat me for 10 years of recurring IBS symptoms.  –  Jennifer

Thank you Jennifer! I am SO happy you are doing well and that you have shared this.

As always, I hope this helps and if you may have any further questions you can always email me.

Check out my Giveaway Page this week. I have some pretty interesting and fun giveaways.

From my kitchen to yours,

Tina Turbin

About Tina Turbin

I'm a cookbook-collecting, recipe-developing paleo junkie, and I live in the kitchen. I'm hooked on farmers' markets, traveling, eating healthy, and hiking until my legs scream at me. There's nothing better than hanging out with family and good friends. I have fun and sleeping is just plain boring. Read more About Tina Turbin.

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