Digestive Health, Probiotic Health

Symptoms and Causes of SIBO and SIFO – post 2 of 3

girl with digestive discomfort

Today let’s continue our conversation about SIBO and SIFO and take a further look at the symptoms and causes of these two very uncomfortable conditions. Again, I may refer to them collectively as SIBO.

Common Symptoms of SIBO and SIFO

Gas and bloating

We’ve all experienced this discomfort in our lives however in this case it’s much more serious than an occasional reaction to a plate of beans. What’s actually happening is stagnant bacteria or fungus create gases in your upper gastrointestinal tract through the process of fermentation.  The result is the chronic issues of gas and bloating. You may even simply drink a glass of water and feel you expand like a balloon.

causes of SIBO - gut bugs

Abdominal Pain

Another common effect is abdominal pain. The origin of the pain actually comes from your colon AKA large intestine.

How is the pain created?

  • Gases collect and the expansion of the colon stimulates pain nerves.
  • The Vagus nerve, discussed earlier, can develop abnormal digestive signaling patterns and aggravate painful issues.
  • There can also be actual structural narrowing or ballooning of the colon which can result in pain.


Fatigue is a very common symptom with SIBO. It’s very crazy, the overgrowth of bacteria and fungus literally compete with our bodies for our vitamins and minerals, causing us to experience nutritional deficiencies like B12, vitamin D, and iron!

Additionally, toxins that are produced by bacterial and fungal overgrowth can easily result in fatigue. Physical stressors from poor diet, perhaps lack of sleep, and other types of imbalances regularly cause adrenal fatigue.

Diarrhea and/or Constipation

Commonly seen with SIBO and SIFO is either diarrhea and/or constipation. Yes, either symptom can be the result! Some “lucky” people actually experience both!

These unpleasant symptoms can be due to:

  • high methane that’s produced due to fermentation
  • high hydrogen that’s fueled by improper digestion of carbohydrates
  • either slow or fast motility
  • low stomach acid
  • excessive use of antibiotics

Leaky Gut

As time goes by, malabsorption of vitamins and minerals along with fungal intrusion into the wall itself weaken the vitality and resiliency of our intestinal lining. A condition known as Leaky Gut is the result.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

One condition that is now running rampant across our country is NAFLD. That stands for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. This occurs for people who drink little to no alcohol. Within the condition of SIBO, the liver has to process a tremendous amount of excess toxins produced by bacterial overgrowth in the intestine. The way the liver protects itself is to surround the toxins with fat. Over time fat overloads and inflames your liver creating NAFLD.


It’s very important to note that any of the gut disturbances described above can be precursors to obesity. For example, with NAFLD, not only does fat build up in the liver, but also all around your body. Chronic inflammation has been shown to undermine all body systems. Ongoing SIBO certainly leads to long term health issues.

Your lifestyle choices directly impact SIBO.

Contributing Causes of SIBO and how, in many cases, you can take back control!

Low Stomach Acid is one of the main contributing causes of SIBO

Stomach acid normally helps control the proper acid alkaline environment in the intestinal tract and eliminates unwanted bacteria. Stomach acid is decreased by the chronic use of acid-blocking medications. Although you  can’t control the passage of time, it’s important to note that stomach acid also naturally decreases with age.

Compromised Liver Function relating to effective digestion

In addition to NAFLD which accumulates fat in your liver, this critical organ can become compromised and develop thick bile, which has trouble carrying the toxins out of the liver effectively. Most experts agree that how your body uses sugar is a large contributing factor to developing a compromised liver. This is directly linked to dietary decisions.

SIBO - fatty liver

Pancreatic Insufficiency

Your pancreas can become overwhelmed and lose its ability to secrete proper amounts of the digestive enzymes protease, amylase, and lipase into the gut. These enzymes are essential to the digestion of proteins, starches, and fats. A number of conditions are linked to pancreatic insufficiency.

Bacterial Migration is another of the main contributing causes of SIBO

There are three sphincters along your digestive tract. These sphincters are meant to operate as one-way valves, propelling food from your esophagus, through your stomach, and down into your colon. Pressure and/or weakness can manifest in these sphincters they can allow bacteria to migrate in the wrong direction resulting in bacteria colonizing into problematic areas like your small intestine.

Common reasons for sphincter dysfunction:

  • too much spicy food
  • excess alcohol or caffeine
  • overeating
  • eating too quickly
  • eating too frequently
  • neurological or structural factors
  • the result of disease processes like diabetes

Eating before bed is one of the most serious causes of SIBO

Eating before bed is a real problem. Your stomach needs to be empty in order to stimulate the production of motilin which you learned is what drives the migrating motor complex, allowing you to properly move your food through your small intestine while you sleep. Never eat within 3 hours of going to bed and avoid laying down after a meal altogether.

Causes of SIBO - gastric emptying

Alcohol Consumption

Drinking alcohol can cause excess fermentation in the gut and fuel many inflammatory processes that are precursors to disease. Try to keep your alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women, two for men.

Vagus Nerve Issues

A disruption in the proper function of the Vagus nerve can cause a signaling problem for the MMC and other vagus nerve digestive functions. This can result in either fast or slow motility.

The most common causes of vagus nerve issues are:

  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Physical or surgical trauma
  • Tumor

In the final post in this series, we will discuss how to deal with SIBO effectively and gain access to the road back to health. Please check out my video on Facebook for even more information.


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