The number one question I get asked in my inbox is “What is your SIBO protocol?” I am always reluctant to share exactly what I am doing to eradicate SIBO as it will be different for everyone, and I am not a nutritionist or naturopath by any means so I am not in a position to give medical advice. The antimicrobials I am taking could completely affect someone in a different way, and it is crucial that you officially get diagnosed with SIBO and consult a doctor or naturopath before you begin your journey. I will share however large points of how I am healing SIBO.
For those that don’t know, SIBO is a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth which causes symptoms such as severe and painful bloating, extreme fatigue, malnourishment, anaemia, irritability, headaches and more.
*update, after 6.5 months I have been deemed SIBO FREE
1. I Consulted a Naturopath
I suffered from what I was lead to believe was GERD (severe acid reflux) for over 5 years with little to no help from GPs and was simply asked to take medications after medications. I was drinking Gaviscon like it was water with still no relief! It wasn’t until I was put on strong PPIs that it finally sent me over the edge (causing my SIBO) and I decided to stop all medications and seek help from a naturopath. Within an hour of meeting my naturopath I knew I was in much better hands than any doctor I had met previously. Deep down I knew that my problem was always triggered by stress and diet and here was somebody that was finally able to help me get back on track without harmful medications.
Turns out I never had high acid levels causing reflux but instead I had too low! If you are experiencing reflux as well make sure you also read my post on acid reflux.
2. I Follow A Strict SIBO Diet
Under the direction of my naturopath, I follow a strict 2 phase SIBO diet. Currently, I avoid all carbs, grains, sugar, dairy and gluten. Honestly, I mostly just eat certain veg, eggs and nuts as I am also vegetarian! This won’t be forever though, and if you follow the diet correctly you can really heal your gut and slowly add more items. Your doctor or naturopath will be able to provide you with a full outline of the diet. It sounds intimidating, but honestly, I am on month 6 and doing fine now that I have adjusted. It is absolutely crucial that you do not cheat on your diet and stay dedicated. Meal planning and taking meals with me when I go out has been a huge help.
If you are struggling with this I’ve shared my 5 Tips for Dealing with Strict Diets and Social Situations
3. I Use Natural Antimicrobials
After much research I decided to forego the prescribed antibiotics such as Rifaximin as I knew that with the correct diet, patience and natural remedies my body would have the power to heal. Most SIBO sufferers that have used antibiotics sadly relapse and never find true healing, or they get even worse! I definitely didn’t want to take that risk so I decided to stick with antimicrobials such as berberine, allimax, neem and interfase for the detox phase. I know that oregano oil and grapefruit extract are also recommended.
4. I Live a Low Stress Lifestyle
Before being diagnosed with SIBO I was full of anxiety, always stressing myself out and all-round an edgy person. This in itself can completely wreck havoc on your gut health and I came to realise I wasn’t doing myself any favours. I took a long hard look at myself and have taken huge strides to not only heal my body, but to take care of my mental health as well. I practice yoga daily, mediate every evening as well as I journal and read before bed. Most of the books I read are on self-development, positive thinking, self-love etc. The more tools I equip myself to help battle stress the better!
5. I Exercise Everyday
Now that’s something I never thought I would write! Before SIBO I could have been closely related to a sloth. I hated exercising and often went weeks without doing anything. Feeling ill all the time it was so hard to motivate myself, and I hardly had energy to get through the day. However, once I started getting better I knew that I had to do SOMETHING every day in order to help heal not only my body but also to help my mind. I now get up early every morning for my yoga practice and go for a walk after dinner every evening. These aren’t exactly strenuous activities but they get me moving which is so important for your gut health and health overall. I can now proudly say I am in the best shape I have ever been!
6. I See an Osteopath
Your body alignment has an enormous effect on your health. It’s a bit of a circle, but if your body alignment is out it can deeply affect your gut health and vice versa. Your body interprets pain as tension, which is why an upset stomach can trigger tension everywhere in your body only making things worse. Seeing an osteopath has greatly helped me on many levels especially my digestion. Many chiropractors even specialize in helping with gut issues.
7. I Get Plenty of Sleep
I am in a blessed position to be able to create my own hours of work and to work from home, which means I can ensure that I am getting enough sleep. Sleep is so important to your body, especially if it is in the process of healing. I get 8-9 hours of sleep every day and on weekends I sometimes allow myself even more.
8. I Practice Positive Thinking and Faith
Your mind is so powerful, and it is important you really realise that. Having negative thoughts in general, always assuming the worst and having a negative view of your sickness is extremely detrimental. Always remaining positive, practicing gratitude and exploring manifestation as had a wonderful impact on my life, not just in healing but in all aspects. Unless you truly have faith and believe everything will work out and that you will be healed, your journey is going to be a lot harder and longer. Instead of telling yourself that you are unwell and focusing on the fact that you are sick, tell yourself you are on the path to healing and fully believe that will come true for you.
If you need some positivity in your life check out my post on 8 Ways of Becoming a More Positive Person.
I also write about letting your struggles serve you and making the best of things here.
9. I Joined a Community
Perhaps the hardest part of having SIBO for me was that I felt completely isolated and alone. I knew no one my age that had the same issues as me, which made me envious. Most people at 22 can eat, drink and do whatever they please with their diet without any consequences, and being in this environment while having to be so strict on myself left me feeling frustrated. It wasn’t until I decided to join an Instagram SIBO community that I began to connect with people similar to me and it really helped me to accept and embrace my journey.
10. I am Self Dedicated
It’s important to realise that SIBO isn’t a quick fix thing and that you need to make serious lifestyle changes in order to see true results and find complete healing. I contribute my now SIBO free diagnose to the fact that I was so dedicated to my healing, especially the diet. Take a step back, realise that the sacrifices you make now will be so worth it and that at the end of the day there is more to life than food.
I wish you all the best with your journey, and know that it is possible for everyone to find healing.
* Now that I have eradicated the bad bacteria in my gut from SIBO I will be moving on to the healing stage of probiotics, fermented foods and adding more to my diet. Stay tuned to hear about my second phase!