Food sensitivity is not a disease. However, it may play a role in causing disease or worsening certain symptoms. A protein called zonulin regulates the permeability of the connection between cells in the digestive tract. Zonulin is up-regulated by gluten and pathogenic bacteria, leading to increased intestinal permeability; also called “leaky gut” . With increased permeability in the gut, larger molecules that normally stay in the gut can cross into the bloodstream and induce an immune reaction. Chronic irritation to the digestive tract from a highly reactive food (IgG reactive food) can accelerate the inflammatory process in the gut wall and make matters worse.
Your body can react to different foods in a variety of ways. There is growing evidence to support both the short-term and long-term benefits of eliminating IgG reactive foods from an individuals diet. Migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, weight gain and eczema have all been associated with continued consumption of reactive foods. Undiagnosed food sensitivities can also present as:
- Mood and memory disturbances
- Behavioural problems
- Joint pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Abdominal pain
It can be difficult to determine what specific food is responsible for a given reaction. An IgG Food Sensitivity test is an effective way of determining which foods are causing an individuals reaction. IgG food sensitivities can present hours to days after the consumption of a food, further illustrating the desire to test.
Upon receiving your individual test results, an elimination diet of the reactive foods along with a gut healing protocol are suggested to ensure proper healing of the digestive tract. Most people see improvements within a few weeks of their protocol, however as with any treatment results may vary from individual to individual.
 Hanna Karakuła-Juchnowicz, Patrycja Szachta, Aneta Opolska, Justyna Morylowska-Topolska, Mirosława Gałęcka, Dariusz Juchnowicz, Paweł Krukow & Zofia Lasik (2016) The role of IgG hypersensitivity in the pathogenesis and therapy of depressive disorders, Nutritional Neuroscience, 20:2, 110-118, DOI: 10.1179/1476830514Y.0000000158
Generally when a patients comes to see me for digestive reasons, I consider the SIBO test. Specifically, many of those with stomach troubles like gas, bloating and abdominal pain have already tried taking probiotics to address symptoms.
9 times out of 10 a probiotic can help dramatically! However, there are situations where taking a probiotic doesn’t improve symptoms.
The problem: your gut bacteria are having way too much fun inside of you!
Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) is a common condition that affects roughly 50% of individuals diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Bacteria live throughout our body, from our mouths down to our colon. The further we travel down our gastrointestinal tract the more bacteria we see. Our colon is home to 100,000,000,000 bacteria. SIBO occurs when the bacteria that reside in our colon migrate upwards into our small intestine as a result of a malfunctioning migrating motor complex (MMC). Once in the small intestine these bacteria feed off carbohydrates from food and start to produce gas. This gas can be measured by a Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test.
Top Symptoms of SIBO
- Bloating: bloating generally occurs within 15 minutes to an hour after eating and gets worse as the day progresses
- Diarrhea, constipation, or both: there are 2 types of gas produced by the bacteria that make their way into your small intestine – hydrogen and methane. Generally, elevated hydrogen levels are associated with IBS-D (diarrhea). Alternatively, elevated methane levels are associated with IBS-C (constipation). The Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test is able to pick up hydrogen and methane-producing bacteria.
- Gas: generally reported as smell gas that occurs daily
- Abdominal pain & distention: often a result of constipation, however individuals with diarrhea may report that their stomach is so distended it “feels like I’m pregnant”
- Gastroesophageal reflux: many people will experience “heartburn” or belching throughout the day, often brought on after a meal
- Fatigue: one of the biggest symptoms reported by those experiencing SIBO is a lack of energy during the day
How To Test for SIBO
Currently, the test for SIBO is called a Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test. This test measures the amount of hydrogen and methane gas produced by the bacteria in your small intestine. There are 3 different tests available. Your naturopathic doctor can help choose which test is best suited for you.
- Lactulose: this test is best used to assess bacterial overgrowth in the distal portion of the small intestine.
- Glucose: this test is best used to assess bacterial overgrowth in the upper portion of the small intestine.
- Lactulose/Glucose Combination: comprehensive test that assesses bacterial overgrowth in both the upper and lower portion of the small intestine.
Keep in mind that we co-habit with billions of bacteria. In diagnosing SIBO our goal is not to kill off all of the bacteria that live within us. However, depending on the predominant symptoms and lab test results, a range of natural antimicrobials and prokinetic herbs can be used to re-balance the microbiome and restore your body back to health.