Common Causes of SIBO

It’s near impossible to pinpoint the exact causes of SIBO because everyone’s internal environment is so different. However, studies suggest SIBO is caused by a structural change in the GI tract. It could also be caused by disordered peristalsis of the gastrointestinal tract, or a disruption of the normal mucosal defenses of the small intestine. In other words, anything that causes the regular function of the GI tract to go haywire, especially valve and muscle function, can cause SIBO.

Here are the most common causes of SIBO:

  1. Low Stomach Acid – Stomach acid activates digestive enzymes and kills pathogenic bacteria. Low stomach acid, which can be caused by frequent antibiotic use, a diet of processed foods, or a natural decline with age, can lead to microbial overgrowth and therefore becomes a greater risk for bacteria entering the small intestine.
  2. Pre-existing Medical Conditions – Any medical condition that affects the gut’s muscle function can lead to SIBO. Type 2 diabetes, prior bowel surgeries, leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and long-term Celiac disease can all increase your risk of developing SIBO.
  3. Dietary Factors (including Alcohol, Gluten, and Refined Sugar) – Studies show a much higher rate of SIBO with moderate alcohol consumption compared to people who don’t drink at all. Moderate alcohol consumption is considered one alcoholic beverage per day for women, and two per day for men. Alcohol has been shown to damage small bowel mucosal cells, which can decrease the muscular contractions of the ileocecal valve, which keeps the contents of the large and small intestine separated. Damaged bowel mucosal cells can cause impaired muscle function, thereby a greater risk for SIBO. Both alcohol and refined sugar feed certain types of “bad bacteria” in your system such as yeast, which is harmful when it overgrows and outnumbers your healthy gut bacteria. Eating gluten may also increase your risk for SIBO, as it’s one of the main contributors to leaky gut syndrome.
  4. Small Intestine Dysmotility – This occurs when your small intestine is functioning at a slower rate than it should be. It can be caused by genetics, autoimmune conditions, and any illness that causes inflammation in the GI tract.
  5. Slow Bowel Transit Time – A sluggish bowel transit time means it takes longer than 72 hours for food to move through your digestive tract from the time it’s been eaten to the time it’s eliminated. It’s a risk factor for SIBO because it allows more time for harmful bacteria to accumulate.
  6. Prescription Use – Prescription medications such an antibiotics, antidepressants, and birth control can deplete healthy gut flora and damage bowel mucosal cells.


Information sourced from:

SIBO Symptoms

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): Like the name suggests, SIBO is where bacteria enter your normally sterile small intestine and begin to colonize. Studies have indicated that potentially up to 80% of patients with IBS may in fact have SIBO.

Common symptoms and reasons to test for SIBO: nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, malnutrition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), Leaky Gut Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Acid Reflux, Rosacea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), Fibromyalgia, Gastroeseophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Celiac Disease & Diverticulitis.

Get tested with our Hydrogen and Methane breath test to diagnose SIBO. If you are positive for SIBO, the bacterial overgrowth will produce excess quantities of Hydrogen and/or Methane gas. These gases are not produced by humans but are the metabolic byproducts of carbohydrates produced by intestinal bacteria. The breath test measures these gases and is therefore an indirect test. What is nice about the breath test is that it specifies which gases are present, as well as the location and severity of SIBO.


5 Ways to Start Healing SIBO

Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth is associated with all manners of digestive misery – including abdominal bloating and distension, discomfort/tightness soon after eating, excess belching, excess flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea. So what can we do to kick-start the healing process?

  • Avoid FODMAP foods – Choosing a low-carbohydrate diet will keep symptoms under control by starving the bacteria in your small intestine. Bacteria typically feast off of carbohydrates and produce gas and other irritating byproducts. FODMAP stands for: 

Fermentable – meaning they are broken down by bacteria in the large bowel

Oligosaccharides – “oligo” means “few” and “saccharide” means sugar. These molecules made up of individual sugars are joined together in a chain

Disaccharides – “di” means two. This is a double sugar molecule.

Monosaccharides – “mono” means single. This is a single-sugar molecule.


Polyols – these are sugar alcohols 

  • Take digestive enzymes
  • Eat gut healing foods – It’s important to include gut healing foods in your diet. Foods that are supportive of system management, gut health and balance include: bone broth, pastured meats, low-starch vegetables such as bok choy, and low-starch fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
  • Chew your food thoroughly – Most people chew their food a few times and proceed to swallow, sending partially chewed foods into the stomach, which requires more work from digestive juices to break the foods down.
  • Eat smaller meals slowly – Eating smaller portions can help ensure that complete digestion takes place. Eating smaller meals gives digestive enzymes a greater chance to fully break down food before it enters the small intestine.

Welcome to SIBO Canada


New to SIBO Canada? Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) is a serious condition affecting the small intestine. It occurs when bacteria that normally grow in other parts of the gut start growing in the small intestine. That causes pain and diarrhea. It can also lead to malnutrition as the bacteria start to use up the body’s nutrients. Studies have indicated that potentially up to 80% of patients with IBS may in fact have SIBO. Common symptoms and reasons to test for SIBO: nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, malnutrition, IBS, IBD, leaky gut syndrome, chronic fatigue, acid reflux, rosacea, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, GERD, celiac disease, and diverticulitis.