SIBO: What Causes It?

SIBO: What Causes It?

SIBO: What Causes It?

When we think about the causes of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) we need to start with the question:

What are our natural internal defence mechanisms for preventing SIBO?

I think it is Dr. Siebecker who stated:

One should always search for factors which could have caused the occurrence of the disease

Protection Against SIBO

So, the natural defence mechanisms include:

  1. Appropriate levels of stomach acid
  2. Gut motility
  3. A well functioning ileo-cecal valve
  4. Secretory immunoglobulins (and other types of immune cell)
  5. And pancreatic juices and bile (bile stops bacteria from reproducing)

One or more of these defence mechanisms needs to fail for SIBO to occur.

Other internal defence mechanisms include:

  1. Normal gut immunity (more recent research has shown how its not just secretary immunoglobulins that are needed).
  2. Mucin* production by cells found on the gut lining, as they inhibit (bad) bacteria.
  3. And gut anti-bacterial proteins called defensins.

* Mucins (the building block of mucus) are important for the gut because mucus lines the gut and acts as a protective layer, as it helps eliminate bacteria from the gut.

Consider probiotics, prebiotics, vitamin A and vitamin D – many of these have key roles in supporting a healthy gut immune system, including some of the mechanisms mentioned above.

Watch my interview with Dr. Jacobi, AKA ‘The SIBO Doctor’ to learn more about the underlying causes of SIBO:

External SIBO Causes

What I refer to as ‘external SIBO causes’ are things external of us that may influence our risk of developing SIBO. So for example:

  • Medications such as PPI’s.
  • Toxins such as mycotoxins.

Perhaps we could define these as external to the digestive system as all the traiditional defence mechanisms are found within the gut. If we categorise it this way, then we can include high viral loads as a potential external cause too (although I am not sure if this is a consequence or not). I have found the majority of clients with SIBO also have high viral loads too.

We need to consider how these influence our natural defence mechanisms, or, our overall health. Because, remember, we are the host for these bugs that reside within our digestive system. The healthier we are over all, the healthier the microbiome can be.

Watch my interview with Dr. Siebecker on SIBO, hydrogen sulfide and prokinetics:


Is SIBO A Real Condition? Click here.


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Alex is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner (IFMCP) and has a MSc in Personalised Nutrition. He is also a breathwork facilitator with a background in personal training and massage therapy. He also runs The Resiliency Program - a 24 week program aimed at building physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual resilience.

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