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I’ve noticed a big trend in our SIBO SOS™ Community Facebook group. I grabbed a few screenshots to show you what I mean…
What do you do when your Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth breath test is negative but you STILL have symptoms?
Today I’m digging into this important topic and sharing some ideas and suggestions.
False SIBO Breath Test Results Aren’t The Only Possibility
Yes, there is a possibility that your SIBO breath test results were either a false positive or a false negative.
But many times, people jump to the conclusion that if they have SIBO symptoms, they must have SIBO.
According to Dr. Megan Taylor, ND this is a big mistake:
“For my patients who’ve been doing this for a really long time, one of the biggest mistakes I think we make is obsessing about the breath test. It’s like I have to talk so many folks off the ledge about their positive breath test. And part of it is interpretation.
We have to understand that this is not a perfect tool. Breath testing only gives us evidence possibly of bacterial overgrowth. We should make sure that our providers who are interpreting our test have a lot of experience doing it or are at least up to date.
So, really focusing on that and not obsessing about getting a negative. We know lots of things can influence that breath test, including just your physiology.”
So while you should always discuss the possibility of a false test result with your practitioner, you may also want to consider these 3 other possible causes of your symptoms.
#1 Is It Parasites, Not SIBO?
Many of us falsely believe that we can’t have a parasite because we don’t travel out of the country or drink unfiltered water, but according to parasite expert Dr. Anne Hill, ND, this is a big mistake!
Dr. Hill taught me that parasites can happen to truly anyone (no matter how careful you are!) Exposure to parasites is just part of being a human.
Parasite symptoms can mimic SIBO symptoms including:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Food sensitivities
Parasites can also occur alongside SIBO and can explain why you treated SIBO, got a negative breath test, but still have symptoms.
Want to learn more about parasites? Dr. Hill was a past speaker at the SIBO SOS™ Speaker Series. When you join the series right now, you get instant access to her workshop so you can learn more about diagnosing and treating common parasites. Learn more here.
#2 Food Sensitivities Make You Just As Miserable As SIBO
Is the list of foods you can tolerate getting shorter and shorter?
It could be SIBO causing this – but it could also be food sensitivities (not the same as food allergies).
Food sensitivities aren’t an immune activation response (like a food allergy is). According to Dr. Nirala Jacobi, ND, food sensitivities cause a local and systemic effect. She says the most common categories of food sensitivities are:
A sensitivity to any of these food groups can cause issues like pain, bloating, diarrhea, gas, constipation, headaches, and rashes (among other symptoms).
So what causes food sensitivities?
Food sensitivities can be a sign of yeast overgrowth (more on that in just a minute) and can also be a result of damage to the intestines caused by past SIBO or other issues.
If you’re dealing with food sensitivities, we have some great resources in the Speaker Series for you! Learn more here.
#3 SIFO Sounds & Looks Like SIBO
There’s another condition that looks and sounds like SIBO (literally) – it’s called Small Intestine Fungal Overgrowth (SIFO).
SIFO is SIBO’s doppelganger. Both conditions happen when a normal resident of your gut (bacteria in the case of SIBO, yeast in the case of SIFO) overgrows where it shouldn’t: the small intestine.
They can both cause the same symptoms.
You can even have both SIFO and SIBO at the same time.
But here’s the key difference: they require different treatments!
It can be really hard to tell based on symptomatology is you have SIBO, SIFO, or both – but there is testing available, and more importantly: effective treatments for both.
I really believe SIFO is big missing piece of the “why don’t I feel better?” puzzle for many people.
Don’t Give Up – Ever!
I know how devastating it can be to get test results that don’t match how you feel.
You start to wonder: “Is it actually all just in my head?”
Let me be the one to remind you: no, it’s not just in your head!
SIBO, IBS, leaky gut… these are tricky conditions to diagnose and treat. It’s not “open and shut” cases.
We’re here to support you, provide you with new idea, information, and inspiration, and guide you along in your journey.
Don’t give up,
P.S. I’m very proud of what we’ve put together for the 2019 Speaker Series. We have some of the very best SIBO experts in the world sharing the latest information. If you haven’t considered joining the Speaker Series before, NOW is the time to do it. Learn more here.
SIBO, or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, is a condition where the good bacteria that grows in other parts of the gut migrate to the small intestine where it’s not supposed to be.
You’ll have symptoms of bloating, stomach pain, cramps, and, of course, gas.
The condition affects close to 60 million people across the United States, and guest, Dr. Mark Pimentel, and I have been chatting over the past year about what causes SIBO and how you can treat it.
About Dr. Mark Pimentel
Dr. Mark Pimentel is the head of the Pimentel Laboratory and the Executive Director of the Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
A leading specialist in studying the causes of SIBO, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and other microbiome related diseases, Dr. Pimentel has been instrumental in delivering treatments, tests, and classifications of these gut diseases.
Dr. Pimentel believes that a SIBO diagnosis is often overused as it can be a catch-all for many different types of GI disorders and that it’s important to get to the root cause of the issue before starting treatment.
We talk about why your tummy makes noise, even when you’re not hungry and why you should probably be avoiding lactose in your diet. We look at the correlation between SIBO and other gut issues with certain vitamins, minerals, and gasses in the body.
Do you suffer from bloating, especially after a meal? Is there a history of SIBO or other gut-related diseases in your family? Do you supplement with a daily probiotic?
This podcast brought to you by:
In This Episode
- What some of the conditions that cause SIBO are
- Why your tummy makes noise when you’re not hungry and what the migrating motor complex is
- Why people with SIBO should steer clear of dairy products
- What the relationship between SIBO, bacteria, and folate (iron) is
- How methane contributes to weight gain and weight loss prevention
- How you can incorporate probiotics in your diet when you have SIBO
“My job is to prove that you don’t have SIBO first but if you do, then we need to prove why you have SIBO.” (3:24)
“The association between IBS and SIBO is clear. I’d say that probably 70% of IBS is SIBO.” (5:26)
“No human on the planet can drink a gallon of milk without getting bloated, because we only have so much enzyme to break down the lactose.” (9:17)
“You have various layers of protection against the outside world. So your skin on the outside of your body is very non-permeable to ward off infections. However, the gut is very special because you want it to absorb things… but not everything, such as certain toxins or some patients have multiple chemical sensitivities.” (24:05)
SIBO, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, is something often overlooked by medical practitioners, but it’s a condition that is getting the spotlight more and more often these days. In fact, many physicians have specialized in SIBO because they themselves suffered in the past but never had real access to help. I’m talking with my personal SIBO specialist and world-renowned doctor, Dr. Allison Siebecker, about how she started offering SIBO treatment, as well as more insight into what SIBO actually is.
About Dr. Allison Siebecker
Dr. Siebecker believes she has had SIBO since she was only 5 years old, when she was originally diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Though she followed medical advice for many years, her symptoms never got better, leading her to study naturopathic medicine. When this didn’t yield the help she wanted, Dr. Siebecker knew she needed to figure out the answers to SIBO for herself.
IBS is the #1 gastrointestinal disorder in the world with over 20% of the population suffering from it – and SIBO is the biggest contributing cause of it, but IBS isn’t the only disease associated with SIBO. We’re looking at how our guts are made up and what a properly working intestinal tract should do. We also talk about leaky gut, whether SIBO is a serious disease or not, and how long it’s going to take to cure your body of SIBO.
Have you been diagnosed with SIBO? Do you eat a lot of carbohydrates? How are you prioritizing SIBO treatment in your daily life? Let me know in the comments!
This podcast brought to you by:
In This Episode
- How the intestinal tract is supposed to work and what it really looks like
- How leaky gut is related to the gut and other parts of the body
- What the symptoms of SIBO are, how they differ from IBS, and what other diseases are linked to SIBO
- What tests you should ask your doctor to do if you suspect you have SIBO
- How serious SIBO is, what causes it, and how long it takes to treat symptoms
- Why diet alone won’t completely cure SIBO as the bacteria overgrowth needs to be removed completely
“When we have SIBO, all of our digestion and absorption can be messed up and that is a lot of suffering and problems.” (3:02)
“If digestion is disordered, it can lead to so many other problems in the body.” (14:16)
“The thing about SIBO diets is that there’s no really one right way to approach the reduction of the carbohydrates because the right way would be to remove them all if we wanted to have no symptoms at all. But that wouldn’t be good, because we need carbohydrates in our diet.” (27:32)
The first time a practitioner brought up the idea of parasites I immediately thought, “No, nope, no way.”
First of all, the idea of having a parasite or gut infection was so gross to me, I didn’t even want to consider it.
Secondly, I live in Florida, I drink filtered water, I wash all my produce… I just didn’t think it was possible I’d been exposed to a parasite.
But I was 100% wrong. Parasites and gut infections (also called gram-negative bacteria) are actually common – even in the United States, even if you’re very careful and clean (like me!) – and I’ve since learned that there’s nothing shameful about having one.
One of my personal mentors on parasites is Dr. Anne Hill, ND.
Dr. Hill is an expert on pathogenic bacteria and parasites, and she taught me about all the different ways we can be exposed.
Today, I’m going to share 10 ways you can be exposed to parasites and gut infections.
#1 Eating Food Imported From All Over The World
When we were kids, you couldn’t get all kinds of produce all year long. Now you can get asparagus in October and apples in May. How? Produce is imported from all over the world.
Even if you wash your produce like I do, you’re still more likely to be exposed to more parasites and bacteria from all around the world. If you’re eating blueberries grown in Chile, it’s like travelling to Chile as far as the potential for exposure to pathogens.
#2 Drinking Water & Going Swimming
Waterways are only getting MORE contaminated every year. In 2018, outbreaks of cryptosporidium and giardia in the U.S. were linked back to contaminated waterways.
You should definitely filter your drinking water, but you can be exposed to parasitic and pathogenic bacteria by swimming, too. And no – pools aren’t necessarily safer than natural bodies of water. Rivers, ponds, lakes, pools, and the ocean can all be contaminated.
This one is the most well-known risk factor for parasites and gut pathogens. “Montezuma’s Revenge” and “Bali Belly” are two of the ones we hear about a lot.
But it’s not just international travel – even travelling domestically increases your risk of exposure to new pathogens and parasites.
#4 Eating Raw Food
Although many of us with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth don’t eat a lot of raw food, very few of us always eat all food cooked!
When food is cooked, the heat kills bacteria and pathogens. Eating raw or undercooked foods leaves you vulnerable to exposure. If you eat a lot of salad or sushi, you should be aware of this.
#5 Gardening & Exposure To Soil
Do you like to garden or even just occasionally pull weeds in your yard? Exposure to soil increases your risk of pathogen and parasites.
Even if you’re not a gardener, you might be exposed to soil hiking or camping.
#6 Exposure To Insects
Living in a humid environment, I’m no stranger to insects! Spider, mosquitos, ticks, horse flies, and spiders (among other insects) can all spread parasites and pathogenic bacteria through bites.
#7 Contact With Animals & Pets
Our pets carry pathogens and parasites in their body – and we let them lick us and sleep in our house! But even if you don’t have pets at home, any exposure to animals increases your risk.
Hunters are especially at risk because they’re exposed to wild animals.
#8 Having A Family Member in Close Contact
You can control your own risk factors to an extent – like never eating raw food or avoiding swimming – but you can’t control what the people around you do!
If your partner or children have any of these risk factors, you have them too! Close exposure and sharing food, drinks, and other items can all spread parasites and pathogens between people.
#9 Having a Weakened Immune System
If you’re dealing with any kind of chronic disease that weakens your immune system, you’re at a higher risk for parasites and gut infections.This is especially true for people taking immunosuppressant drugs!
But even if your immunity is just taking a hit from a cold or virus, you’re at increased risk.
#10 SIBO Patients
I hate to share this one – but just having SIBO puts you at increased risk of parasites and pathogenic bacteria.
SIBO impacts motility and can impact immunity – both of which make it easier for parasites and pathogens to find a home in you.
Don’t Freak Out!
I didn’t write this list to scare you or make you want to live in a bubble – I wrote it to show that EVERY single one of us is at risk for developing parasites and gut infections… and many of us probably have one right now that is holding us back from optimal health.
The good news: you can be tested and treated – and you can learn the warning signs and preventative measures you can take, too.
I invited Dr. Hill to teach a Masterclass covering all these topics and more.
- What parasites are & where you get them
- What they do to your body (it’s more complex than you might imagine!)
- How to get accurate testing (and not waste time or money)
- How to treat them (specific protocols for EACH common infection!)
Tickets for the Masterclass and Q&A are $59 and include the opportunity to:
- Listen to the questions asked and answered.
- Watch the recording after the event
- Instant access to the recording and professional transcripts
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.
P.S. How many risk factors do you have? I have 8 out of 10!