TikTok users have been sharing their experiences with SIBO for months, a disease caused by an imbalance in the gut microbiota. They commented that they suffered from bloating in their stomach when they ate without knowing what it was due to. A biologist and a nutritionist, both specialized in the microbiota, have told Antena 3 Noticias the keys to understanding the disease, its diagnosis and treatment.
SIBO literally means, by its acronym in English, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. “It is a pathological situation of the microbiota that alters the correct functioning of the digestive system in the body,” explains Mariana Aróstegui, a biologist specializing in the microbiota. The expert assures that this disease is directly linked to Lifestyle. “Ultimately it’s a dysfunction of all the barriers we have to tell microbes that they can’t grow in certain places,” she continues.
The bacteriawhich are then located in the small intestine, cause inflammation and symptoms such as “bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, digestive discomfort or weight loss” are due to multiple factors. “There is no single cause,” says Laura Pais, a nutritionist and expert in the field of microbiota.
Ana Garcia Iglesias had SIBO a year ago. He wanted to tell us about his experience with the disease, and he assures that it was quite hard. “I have always had a lot of intestinal problems, but there was a moment when it suddenly became worse, my stomach hurt a lot and I had a lot of gas,” he says. She wasn’t hungry, she was more tired than normal and everything felt bad for her.
The intestinal pain was such that “I couldn’t even leave the house.” Thus, Ana decided to go to the doctor, although as a medical student, she knows that intestinal symptoms are very broad. “You can have a stomach ache for a thousand things”, says. “I found a doctor who first told me to get tested for SIBO and it already came out.” It was something totally new for her, because she used to be diagnosed with irritable bowel.
Behind the SIBO they can be from a “recurrent taking of antibiotics” to chronic stress and poor diet. “The issue of rest, physical exercise, stress management and the entire emotional part is very important, we have to make some changes so that with all this, and having the microbiota as strong and stable as possible, we can continue and that the SIBO does not appear again,” says the nutritionist.
“I was taking antibiotics during ten days and after the antibiotics I did notice the change, the pain was not so much anymore,” says Ana.
As some users say through TikTok, the process of having SIBO detected has not been easy at all. They were completely unaware of the disease and many doctors pointed to other ailments. However the lactulose test in exhaled air solved the enigma. “It is an exhaled air test where we can see the gas formation curve,” he explains. Mariana Aróstegui.
The test consists of ingesting an “aqueous solution like a sugar that we cannot absorb,” and then “blowing into a tube every half hour for three hours.” “Then a machine in the laboratory will tell us whether there is bacterial growth or not“says Laura Pais. The aim is “seeing what happens in the small intestine.”
What is the intestinal microbiota?
SIBO is a disease directly linked to an imbalance within the intestinal microbiota. This concept includes the “set of microorganisms, whether bacteria, viruses, fungi, that live in our intestine and help us digest food”, performing “a lot of metabolic functions for our benefit.” But within the microbiota “imbalances” can occur. When an imbalance occurs, what is known as “gut dysbiosis” occurs.
“It has been seen that the alterations in the microbiota predisposes diseases such as metabolicsuch as diabetes or obesity, autoimmune, inflammatory, allergies and even neurological diseases,” says Pais. Many experts, like this nutritionist, believe that a diet based on natural, unprocessed foods, “can be a protective pattern for an healthy microbiota.
He maladjustment It appears when those barriers fail. Therefore, “it will be essential to provide tools” for humans to inhibit “the growth of microbes where they do not have to grow.” But the treatment of SIBO, the main disease of the microbiota, is not at all simple.
Watch out for diets
Laura Pais warns that highly fermentable diets “only serve to relieve” and “they do not cure anything in themselves”. “There are many people who think they follow it, their digestive discomfort goes away and they think everything is solved,” she says.
To clean up overgrown bacteria, science is finding new alternatives with which to “rebalance” such as “the use of probiotics.” “This is very much under study, but It is a promising path“Pais continues.