By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
A number of different things play a factor in autoimmune disease: diet, stress, infections and environmental chemicals. Sometimes the driver of a health problem is much closer to home: your own gut. Having the wrong gut bugs or having an abnormally high number of bacteria can create a leaky gut and a range of health problems even if you have a very healthy diet.
Among my patients I’ve found that Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a very common problem. SIBO is defined as an increased number and/or abnormal types of bacteria in the small intestine. The condition encompasses yeast overgrowth such as Candida too, but excess bacteria is more common and a bigger problem in most instances.
There is not supposed to be a lot of bacteria in your small intestine. This part of your intestine is designed for nutrient digestion and absorption. Most of the bugs in your gut are supposed to live in your colon (large intestine).
How does the bacteria end up in your small intestine? It can either travel upwards from your colon, or downwards from your mouth. The far more common scenario is where the bugs travel up from your large intestine.
Having too much bacteria here can make you feel bloated and it can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as abdominal cramps, gas, diarrhoea or constipation. New research has shown that many cases of irritable bowel syndrome are actually caused by SIBO.
The lining of your small intestine is very thin; it’s only one cell thick. The excess bacteria in the small intestine of someone living with SIBO cause inflammatory damage to the lining of the gut. The damaged, leaky gut now absorbs those toxins, plus other wastes. They get into your bloodstream and travel straight to your liver. It’s not surprising then to learn that SIBO is a strong contributing factor to liver inflammation and fatty liver. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps to soothe and repair a leaky gut and is very important for anyone with SIBO or an autoimmune condition.