Wellness Wednesday: Staying SIBO-free after treatment
Hi beautiful friends! I'm starting a new thing around these parts called *Wellness Wednesday's*. So in that vein, today I'm back with another SIBO post (woo!).
It may seem like a strange reaction, but when I finally got my diagnosis, I felt relief -- there was an answer. I could take some meds and feel back to 100% in two weeks, right? Wrong. What I didn't anticipate was the effort required after treatment with Rifaxmin to keep my symptoms at bay.
We've previously talked about what SIBO is, and some tips to eat low-FODMAP. What I haven't discussed are my strategies to manage symptoms and (try my best to!) prevent SIBO from coming back after treatment. First and foremost, it's important to recognize that if you've had SIBO in the past, it is a delicate (and sometimes extremely frustrating) balance to prevent a reoccurrence. Know that you have NOT failed if SIBO comes back -- it's just more learning/understanding in your back pocket for the future. Be compassionate towards yourself - it can be a tough journey! And again, I want to reiterate I am NOT a medical professional - I just want to share what I've learned during my journey to the extent that it could help any of you out there! Here are some of my thoughts/personal experiences for you to consider after treatment for SIBO, or even for IBS symptoms in general.
1) Gut motility: I worked with some professionals who suggested that SIBO can be a result (symptom) of underlying small intestine motility issues. That's a fancy way of saying that the food you're eating is sitting too long in your small intestine. There is a gastro test you can do to measure your gut motility, and I personally was tested about a year ago. It's non-invasive -- you just have to eat eggs/toast (with radioactive dye -- don't worry, you can't taste it!), and a technician takes an x-ray of your abdomen every thirty minutes to measure your digestion rate. For me, everything was working great (awesome!), but also meant that it wasn't my underlying issue for my SIBO reoccuring. One thing you can also try to aid motility is an herbal supplement called Iberogast, which I've ordered from Amazon in the past. Just put a couple drops in your water after meals to assist your digestion.
2) Regularity: A little TMI, but I personally feel like when food isn't moving through my system with regularity, my IBS symptoms tend to be worse. To combat this, I drink about a tsp. of "Natural Calm" magnesium powder in the evenings -- I find that it in addition to being awesome for relaxation/sleep, it also helps to keep things regular. And it tastes good too - try the lemon raspberry flavor!
3) Diet: I'm a firm believer (through experience!) that diet is SO CRITICAL if you struggle with SIBO. Throughout my journey, I found that the FODMAP elimination diet to be key. Having gone through the elimination process, I'm armed with more insight into foods that trigger my symptoms. I focus on eating low-FODMAP, whole foods that I know won't result in painful symptoms. Definitely do your research - low FODMAP isn't the most restrictive diet in the world, but in all sincerity it requires planning and preparation. I'll be completely honest that it didn't work for me when I was traveling frequently for work. Now that I'm not traveling so much, I can prep my meals during the week, which gives me more freedom on the weekends to live it up and eat what I want.
4) Stress: Stress is HUGE for gut-health, and I honestly think that was a huge contributor to why my SIBO came back. I was working crazy hours for an extended period of time, and my symptoms got progressively worse and worse -- until I wound up back to square one. Since then, I've recognized the correlation between stress and my symptoms, and I've been *trying* to chill out more. And that can mean in work, life, social commitments - it all plays a part!
5) Alcohol: I hate the be the bearer of this news, but in my personal experience (i.e. a post-holiday detox), my stomach feels SO much better when I keep drinking to a minimum. For me, this looks like a couple drinks over the weekend (usually wine -- low FODMAP!). As a side-note, being intentional about my alcohol consumption and not using it as a tool to "tap out" has been a true learning experience for me over the past couple of months....more discussion and a post to come on that in the future.
6) Probiotics: Make sure you are getting some source of probiotics in on a daily basis! For me, it took a really long time (think...about six months) to rebuild the good, healthy bacteria in my gut after SIBO treatment. I rely on Kombucha, and also take a probiotic supplement from Whole Foods every day to make sure that the healthy bacteria in my gut have some additional support!
So there you have it - some strategies to employ to HOPEFULLY keep symptom free after treatment. Remember though - go back to your doctor and get retested if you start to feel like you are regressing and having the same symptoms - it's so important to nip this in the bud early.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this post! If you battle with gut-health, what are your strategies to keep yourself feeling in tip-top shape?