Dealing with a bloated gut shouldn’t be part of daily life. If you’re starting to think that it’s not normal to feel five months pregnant a few hours after eating, you might be living with an undiagnosed digestive problem like SIBO.

There’s no shame in acknowledging that you deal with digestive issues. In fact, it puts you in the company of 70 million other Americans who are struggling to get their systems under control again.

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to restore your gut health and reduce unpleasant bloating. The first step? Determining whether the source of your stomach problems is an overgrowth of bacteria.

What is SIBO?

SIBO is an acronym for ‘small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.’ The condition is caused by excessive amounts of microbes in the small intestine. Bacteria are a normal part of a healthy digestive tract, and they vary in type and concentration depending on the region in question.

Some digestive bacteria (like probiotics) are beneficial for your body. However, certain bacteria types that are perfectly fine in one place can wreak havoc in another. For instance, if you get too much ‘colon bacteria’ in your small intestine, you’re likely to experience the symptoms of SIBO.

SIBO and the Small Intestine

The bacteria that causes SIBO is typically found in your colon. It is rarely a problem at low concentrations or in other places in the body – except the small intestine.

The small intestine is the largest section of the digestive tract, and it is the region where food mixes with digestive juices to aid the absorption of crucial minerals into your bloodstream.

There are proportionally fewer bacteria in your small intestine than your colon (about 10,000 per milliliter of fluid compared to over 1,000,000,000 per ml). These small intestine bacteria are essential for fending off “bad” bacteria, maintaining healthy immune functioning, improving nutrient absorption levels, and aiding vitamin K production.

It’s well understood that problems like SIBO occur when the bacteria in the large and small intestine get mixed or out of balance. Exactly why this happens, though, is a harder question to answer.

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