Four ways parasites and gut infections can harm your gut health

I used to think there was NO way I could have a gut parasite. I thought living in the U.S. and drinking filtered water meant I was protected.

Little did I know…

Gut infections and parasites are actually common – even in Western countries. Gardening, eating out at restaurants, swimming, and being in contact with pets or kids all increase your chance of exposure. 

And of course, travel exposes you to even more potential issues (I think about my childhood trips to India in a totally new way now).

I also know – thanks to the IBS Smart test – that my IBS was actually triggered by a gut infection: food poisoning.

I don’t want to scare anyone but it is an eye-opening reality check. Parasites and gut infections are a topic ANYONE with the goal of healing SIBO or IBS should be thinking about.


I recently spoke with Dr. Anne Hill, ND about what gut infections and parasites actually do to your body. It was illuminating to say the least – a little disturbing, but very hopeful! I’m sharing some of what she taught me with you today…

sibo parasites gut health infections leaky gut
Learn about how gut infections and parasites impact gut health in this blog post from SIBO SOS™ founder Shivan Sarna.

#1 Parasites & Gut Infections Cause Nutrient Deficiency

When you have a parasite or infection in your gut, there is a lot of competition for nutrients. 

Think about those tapeworm-weight-loss horror stories you’ve heard.

But it’s not just worms – all kind of parasites and gut infections can absorb more than their fair share of vitamins and nutrients, ultimately leaving you malnourished.

This can cause crazy cravings, weight loss or weight gain, and nutrient deficiency symptoms (think brittle nails, dry & dull hair, muscle cramps, and more).

#2 Parasites & Gut Infections Degrade Your Gut Lining

Parasites and gut infections degrade the protective lining of the gut called the mucin lining. They do this to break down secretory IGA (which is like the immune system of the gut).

They do this to stay alive: they need to degrade the immune system in the gut to prevent being destroyed.

#3 Parasites & Gut Infections Lead To Food Intolerances

Dr. Hill told me that lots of her patients with parasites and gut infections report that they have LOTS of food intolerances – and that those intolerances are changing all the time.

She explained that this is because gut parasites are able to “switch” the immune system from what she called the innate immune response (the TH1 immune system) to the “food allergy” response (TH2 immune system).

Once the immune system has been switched, patients report new food intolerances every week and can often wind up on a very restricted diet.

#4 Parasites & Gut Infections Release Toxic LPS

According to Dr. Hill, the bacteria that create gut infections have something called a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) layer. Our immune system sees the LPS as a threat and mounts an immune response – leading to more inflammation.

But that’s not all the LPS do – they also decrease the production of butyrate in the gut. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that’s a very important anti-inflammatory. Butyrate keep the gut lining strong and the junctions between the cells that make up the gut wall tight. It prevents “Leaky Gut.”

That means LPS cause harm in 2 ways: inciting an immune response and decreasing butyrate production.

The End Result Is Leaky Gut

When all these factors combine – damaged mucin, decreased butyrate, increased immune response – the strength of the junctions between the cell walls that make up the gut lining decreases.

When you have Leaky Gut, things that should stay in the gut  – like food and toxins – are able to flow out into the bloodstream. That can cause systemic inflammation and symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and may even be a trigger for autoimmunity.

The Leaky Gut – IBS – SIBO Trinity

Over the years, I’ve learned that whenever you discuss IBS and SIBO, you also need to consider Leaky Gut.

They are kind of like a trinity of gut issues:

SIBO can be the root cause of both Leaky Gut and IBS – but it’s not the only cause.

Sometimes Leaky Gut and IBS are caused by other things- but then SIBO can also develop…

It’s a little confusing, but one thing is for certain: if you want to heal IBS and SIBO, you can’t neglect Leaky Gut.

This was something I was guilty of: I got so focused on healing SIBO that I didn’t pay attention to Leaky Gut or other coexisting conditions. I couldn’t get 100% better and I didn’t understand why. 

SIBO was a big problem for me – but it wasn’t the ONLY problem! In fact, I’m still working through my coexisting conditions.

Learn More About Parasites & Gut Infections

Some people are totally open to the idea that they might have a parasite – some people (like myself in the past) are totally repelled by the idea. And that keeps them stuck. If you do have a parasite or a gut infection, it’s not a reflection of your hygiene or anything to be ashamed of. As parasite specialist Dr. Anne Hill taught me: if you eat food, you’re at risk for infection.

Parasites and gut infections can (and do) happen to anyone – especially if you have reduced immune function.

If you want to learn more about gut infections and parasites, her Masterclass and Q&A Session are the perfect next step.

Dr. Hill covers these common gut infections – including signs, risk factors, testing and treatment:

  • Blastocystis hominus
  • Dientaomeba fragilis
  • Entaomeba histoytica
  • H. Pylori
  • Pseudomonas
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Citrobacter
  • Klebsiella
  • Streptococcus
  • Salmonella

Plus much more!

How Bacterial Infections and Parasites Could Be the Missing Link in Your SIBO & IBS Diagnosis
Masterclass and 2-Hour Q&A Recording
With Dr. Anne Hill

Access to the Masterclass and Q&A are $59 and include:

Answers and questions recorded for you to reference.

Watch Masterclass recording, including the Q&A.

  • The masterclass and recorded 2 hour Q&A
  • Instant access to the recording and professional transcripts

Get access here.

If you’re struggling to get well (and feel like you don’t know what to do next) – this Masterclass and Q&A is a MUST watch.

Never miss a live class! Get transformational health tips with Shivan from IBS, SIBO/IMO and the best minds in the digestive health world! Register here to receive class notifications (and more!) through your email


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9 thoughts on “Four ways parasites and gut infections can harm your gut health”

  1. I’ve been following you for some time and the sheer volume of information is so overwhelming and I simply do not know where to start. I’ve been suffering for so long and need a simplified plan to start – baby steps. I’ve read a lot of your posts which overwhelmed me. I live in Southern California and want to start from the beginning with a competent medical specialist who knows A LOT about this. My GI is not helpful at all on this matter – take antibiotics is all they suggest. Can you recommend someone?

    1. Hi Maria -I totally understand the overwhelm you’re feeling and I’m sorry you’re going through it. We do have a recommended practitioners list here.

      Dr. Mark Pimentel is in Southern CA, but he can be difficult to get an appointment with.

      If I were you, I’d consider the SIBO Recovery Roadmap course. it’s taught by Dr. Allison Siebecker and is very methodical and step-by-step. The lessons are broken up into tiny pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed. And it’s very action oriented – not just information to learn, but actual steps to take to get better.

    1. Hi Laura – yep you got it! When you purchase, you’ll get instant access to the 1-hour Masterclass – then you can pre-submit your questions for the Q&A and either watch it live on April 7th or watch the recording afterward.

    2. Hey Laura – yep, you got it! If you buy the class, you get instant access to the 1-hour masterclass. Then you can pre-submit your questions for the Q&A and either watch live on April 7th or wait for us to post the recording and transcript afterwards.

  2. Hello, what arrangements have you made for people in Europe to listen to this talk – we are obviously not able to with the time difference. Many thanks, Lynne

    1. Hi Lynne – all our videos are recorded and transcribed – so even if you can’t attend live, you can watch/read later on your own schedule.

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