Research on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) has increased substantially in recent years, however both SIFO and SIBO are far more prevalent than previously understood.
Fungal and bacterial micro-organisms are part of the normal intestinal ecosystem, however they are normally regulated and kept in balance by the body’s immune system and mix of beneficial bacteria. In both these conditions of SIBO and SIFO, fungal/bacterial overgrowth is not kept in check within the small intestine, and microbes migrate back into the small intestine from the large intestine.
Normally the small intestine contains relatively low amounts of bacteria and fungi/yeasts, but it’s only when the protective immune and/or GI mechanisms fail that SIBO/SIFO can occur. This overgrowth of micro-organisms in the small intestine causes production of large amounts of gases from premature fermentation of carbohydrates. This results in bloating, discomfort, and gases such as hydrogen and methane created, when partially digested food matter is fermented.
Distinguishing between SIBO and SIFO
SIBO and SIFO can cause almost identical symptoms and may be impossible to easily distinguish clinically. For example, while SIBO can generally be determined by a lactulose breath test (LBT), SIFO is not as easy to diagnose and may return negative results. In addition, SIBO and SIFO often co-occur. Symptoms of either type of overgrowth may include:
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Bloating and/or gas
- Pain and/or GI discomfort
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Brain fog
If you suspect you may have either SIBO, SIFO, or possibly both; schedule a time with your naturopath to talk through functional testing options, as well as a tailored treatment plan.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and also has a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Camberwell, and Australia-wide via Zoom. Book HERE