What is SIBO?| Is this the cause of your digestive issues?

Have you heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but you don’t know what to do about it? You may be wondering  if this is the cause of your digestive issues? Is this what’s making you feel so terrible? Let’s start by saying that SIBO is very complex and there is not one easy roadmap to treat SIBO. It is really important to understand what it is, the anatomy behind it, the risk factors, some of the symptoms that you could experience, and most importantly, the underlying causes. SIBO is exactly what it sounds like, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It is not necessarily an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, although it can be pathogenic, it is in essence, an overgrowth. The small intestine is meant for digestion and absorption of nutrients, where the large intestine is meant to house our beneficial bacteria. When we have a backflow of this bacteria into the small intestine, that’s when we can begin to overpopulate and have an overgrowth.

Let’s go over some brief functional anatomy so that you understand what’s happening. When you start chewing your food, you produce salivary enzymes to help begin the digestive process. The food is then passed through our esophagus, i.e. the food pipe, into the stomach. The stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL) to break down the food even further. We have our gallbladder that releases bile to help break down the food moving into the small intestine. Our pancreas is also releasing enzymes to help further break down this food. Once the food moves into the small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet long, so it’s not small, digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. The small intestine connect into our large intestine. There’s an ileocecal valve that prevents any backflow. From here, we then move the food into our rectum for waste removal. We can think of the large intestine as the house for the good bacteria and our storage for waste and excretion.

What symptoms can you have with SIBO?

One of the most frequent complaints is bloating. This is when the gases build-up from the bacteria eating the food. When the gas is releases, it causes pressure or distension in the abdomen. The small intestine is not made for any kind of buildup. When this buildup occurs and we’re not able to process it or digest it properly, this is when you can begin to have symptoms of nausea and acid reflux. The other two symptoms that are very common are constipation and/or diarrhea. You may have both and it could be alternating, or you could gravitate more towards one or the other. This can often be referred to as SIBO-C or SIBO-D. In addition to all the common digestive complaints associated with SIBO such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, cramping, and abdominal pain, you can also have other health issues. This can range from skin issues to significant fatigue to anxiety or depression, and the list goes on.

What are the risk factors for SIBO?

1. Disease states. That can be an autoimmune disease or any other chronic disease that can be a driving factor.

2. Surgery. Specifically abdominal surgeries that create adhesions from scar tissue. This can impact the motility of the small intestine.

3. Medications. This can be any kind of pharmaceutical drugs or antibiotics that you may have been taking, chemotherapy, etc. All of these can drive SIBO.

Now, what are the underlying causes of SIBO?

This is often much more difficult to figure out, and sometimes requires a lot of investigation. The underlying cause essentially is when the system fails. When this protection mode and the normal process of digestion is not happening the way that it should. This can happen for various reasons.

1. If we do not have the appropriate amount of stomach acid in the stomach to be able to begin to break down food properly.

2. If there is an enzyme deficiency, which means that you do not have the capability of being able to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

3. The immune system. Seventy percent of the immune system is in our gut specifically in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). You can appreciate that if this system begins to fail and our immune system becomes more heightened, this can be an underlying cause of SIBO.

If you have IBS or have chronic digestive issues, you may look into this as a possible cause. You can get tested for SIBO here.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR BELLY FAT

Do you have abdominal fat that you just cannot seem to get rid of? You’ve tried different nutrition plans and exercise programs, and it just won’t budge. You also know that there is a lot of risk of having abdominal weight gain, but you’re just not sure what to do about it. Although you may not want to hear this, abdominal weight gain is linked to high cortisol levels, which is one of our key stress hormones that is released during the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, our stress pathway. When we have chronic stress, we have chronic cortisol release, among other stress hormones that are linked to abdominal weight gain, obesity, and increased visceral and subcutaneous fat.

There are two types of fat that we’ll see in the abdominal region, one of which is subcutaneous fat, and two is visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat produces helpful hormones, one of which is leptin which suppresses your appetite and helps to burn fat. Two is adiponectin which helps regulate fats and sugars.  So, if there’s any increased abdominal fat, then this will impact the production and function of these hormones. The visceral fat will be found around the liver, intestines, other organs, and even underneath the abdominal wall. An interesting thing about visceral fat is that the more visceral fat you have, the harder and thicker it becomes. It becomes denser, so that’s when you may feel that your stomach feels hard and not as elastic as it once did. This of course can increase inches to your waistline. In addition to that, you also have increased cytokines in your visceral fat. There are more cytokines in the visceral fat than there are in subcutaneous fat. These proteins are linked to low-level inflammation and inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases. Lastly, it also releases more retinol-binding protein, which will contribute to more insulin resistance.

Based on research, having increased abdominal fat is linked to colorectal cancer, dementia, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Just remember that abdominal weight gain does not discriminate among genders. So, men and women both can get abdominal weight gain. Women are more susceptible to it after they’ve gone through menopause because their estrogen levels have decreased, which is linked to high cortisol levels over time and chronic activation of the stress pathway.

Now, what can you do about it?

1) Stress management: This could include practicing mindfulness, meditation, journaling, speaking to a counselor, and trying to be aware of your responses during your day to day actions of life. We cannot get rid of stress, but we can learn how to respond to our stressors more effectively. We can respond with clarity and creativity, rather than reacting. When we can begin to do this we can shift our nervous system into a state of more social engagement, safety, a grounded, mindful state rather than in a fight or flight or freeze state.

2) Anti-inflammatory diet: This can be very challenging for many people. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with processed, high sugar, high fat foods. Aim to have a diet low in sugar, processed foods, and try to eat more clean and natural whole foods.

3) Exercise. First, determine what level of exercise is appropriate for you. If you are in a state of chronic stress, then doing high-intensity interval training is not appropriate because that is also a stressor that can put you into a state of complete overload. Identify the appropriate level of exercise, be consistent with your exercise, and remember that exercise is not the same as movement. We exercise 30 minutes a day, but we should be moving all day long. We should be consistently increasing our movement levels, which means sitting for no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time before we get up and move our bodies. Our bodies are meant to move, they crave movement, and if we don’t do it, we lose it.

4) Sleep. Sleep is more important than nutrition and exercise combined. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.  But, It’s not only about how much sleep you’re getting but it’s about the quality of sleep you’re getting. How much REM and deep sleep are you getting? Are you giving yourself enough time to down-regulate your nervous system before you go to sleep, are you using your phone up late at night or watching TV and stimulating your nervous system as opposed to calming it down and preparing for a restoration process? If you are chronically sleep deprived, this will increase the stress response in your body and contribute to weight gain, specifically around the mid-section.

Good luck in addressing your abdominal weight gain, i.e. stress belly.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION 101

The gut-brain connection is so powerful in your immune health, hormonal health, and nervous system. If you’ve ever had a gut feeling then you know exactly what the gut-brain connection is. The gut-brain connection is a bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain. The gut, meaning our second nervous system or our enteric nervous system, and our brain, our first nervous system. This bi-directional communication happens through multiple pathways, including hormonal, immune, and our nervous system.  The objective of the gut-brain connection is to maintain normal gut function, as well as appropriate behavior.

The first brain has 100 billion neurons and our second brain, our gut has about 500 million neurons. You can see how powerful this neural connection is, and this neural connection happens primarily through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates in the brainstem and then wanders down to the gut. It signals in both directions. For example, if you are getting anxious about a presentation that you have to give you might feel that in your stomach, but if you are eating some kind of inflammatory foods, then that can cause you to potentially feel anxious.

Now, the next connection is hormonal, and this is based on the neurotransmitters or the chemical messengers that we have that communicate between the gut and the brain. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in the gut that is produced by the gut bacteria. Serotonin is provides us with a sense of happiness. We also produce 50 percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, in our gut. Another hormone we produce is called GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), which decreases feelings of stress and anxiety.

Last but not least, our gut-brain in connected via immune pathways. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. So, when we have any kind of gut issue, we typically have an immune or inflammatory issue. In the case of leaky gut, for example, when you begin to have pathogens and toxins that are crossing the epithelial lining and moving into the bloodstream, this is going to cause an immune reaction. If this continues, this can cause a leaky brain because those pathogens and potentially undigested food can cross the blood-brain barrier causing inflammation in the brain feeling things like brain fog. So, as you can see there is a very strong immune system connection as well.

You may be asking, what can I do to optimize my gut-brain connection? The first thing you can do is try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which simply means a whole food, natural, clean diet. Make sure that there are lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables and fruits. If you are experiencing any specific gut or health issues, please make sure to reach out to us we’d be more than happy to help you.  We can see you virtually or in person.

The next thing is to manage stress. Stress is one of the biggest things that can impact the gut-brain connection on both levels. You can help to decrease your stress through mindfulness, meditation, breath work, yoga, journaling, reading, or whatever is helpful for you, perhaps even speaking with someone.

Next, is making sure you’re getting enough sleep. Also make sure that you’re getting an optimal amount of sleep as well as quality sleep.

Lastly is movement. Instead of thinking of exercising 30 minutes a day, try to just move as frequently as you can throughout the day. This will help to optimize your immune system, nervous system, as well as your hormonal system by getting in regular quality movement.

I hope this helps you become more successful and achieving what you want in your life and your health.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.