Can’t lose weight? Read this first!

If you fall into the category of people who have tried cutting calories, exercise regularly, and generally watch what you eat but still can’t change your physique or lose weight? You’re constantly struggling and wondering why its so hard, how is it that other people can drop weight seemingly quickly but you can’t?

If you’re struggling to lose the “last 5 lbs,” or on the other hand struggling to even feel well enough to lose weight, there could be a very specific reason why you’re not able to progress.

Perhaps you struggle with minor health problems, such as constipation, bloating, digestive pain, chronic yeast infections, or even more serious problems such as Hashimoto’s or elevated blood sugar. Maybe you get restless leg syndrome, chronic fatigue, or suffer from stiff achy joints.

Many people accept thing symptoms as normal and continue on with their lives and wonder why they can’t lose weight. These are all signals that your body is trying to tell you something. The problems is that most people don’t know how to interpret these signals, much less take action on what to do about it. I am here to tell you there could be a common root cause issue that you are dealing with but have no idea. That condition is called SIBO – Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.

If you have some of the above mentioned symptoms, you are not alone, approximately 70 million Americans live with a digestive disease, 74% (possibly higher) experience digestive discomfort such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. It is very likely that SIBO is at the root cause or a main contributing factor in many of these symptoms and disease sates. Furthermore, SIBO has been implicated in other seemly non-digestive diseases such as Diabetes, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and obesity.

SIBO Root Causes

What exactly is SIBO? It is an overgrowth of bacteria (or fungus) in the small intestine. It is normal to have bacteria throughout your digestive tract, however, in the case of SIBO certain bacteria from the colon can travel back up into the small intestine – where certain strains are NOT supposed to be and proliferate. This overgrowth can be triggered by life events such as: food poisoning, travelers diarrhea, viral infection, parasitic infection, trauma, surgery, use or overuse of antibiotics, or from other lifestyle factors such as chronic constipation, or by simply existing on the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and having only one bowel movement per day.

The problem with SIBO other than the obvious digestive problems, is that it is rarely diagnosed and will perpetuate all your symptoms making your weight loss impossible (or extremely difficult).

Common symptoms of SIBO:

-constant feeling of fullness or early satiety with meals

-nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, heartburn

-mood swings, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, constant unease

-fatigue, sluggish, lethargy, depression, poor memory

-acne, hives, rashes, flushing, eczema,

-food cravings, binge eating, water retention

-breathing problems such as: stuffy nose, congestion, hay fever, asthma, shortness of breath

If you relate to any of these symptoms, you are likely dealing with SIBO or at very least have some gut imbalances that you need to work on before you set out on a weight loss journey. Once you get to the root cause of your symptoms, correct the problem, your weight loss strategies will find greater traction.

Treatment

What to do if you suspect you have SIBO? First off, find a practitioner who has experience and can help you get a diagnosis and start treating the root cause. You may need to do some additional testing, such as GI map test, or a hydrogen breath test.

What to eat

Even without an official diagnosis you get still take action and start changing your diet. The food you eat will play a large part in the bacterial balance of your gut. When trying to re-establish good gut health you first must remove the foods that are triggering and inflaming you. This will be different for everyone and I would highly recommend taking a food sensitivity test to get your individualized elimination diet. However, common food triggers that I have seen perpetuate gut imbalance are wheat, cows milk specifically (not all dairy), cocoa/chocolate, soy, artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup (goes by many other names and is a common ingredient in condiments and frozen meals). These are all examples of specific ingredients that can aggravate the gut and flare SIBO, however, what also matters is your dietary PATTERN.

Dietary Pattern

Your dietary pattern will largely determine your gut health not just specific ingredients. What I mean is that if your daily intake is high in wheat or other grains, this will likely perpetuate your symptoms. For example, if you know that wheat is causing you inflammation and flaring your SIBO, you cannot just “go gluten free” and proceed to live off of gluten free muffins and banana bread. Similarly, if you find you are sensitive to cocoa, you cannot replace it will Skittles and expect your symptoms to clear. You must remove your food trigger, but replace it with foods that are gut healing. In general, you don’t want a high carbohydrate diet. This is challenging for most people, because paradoxically, people with SIBO may have a harder time digesting protein. If you find yourself avoiding protein foods due to constipation, or feeling like you can’t break them down, you should look into supplementing with Betaine HCL and some good digestive enzymes.

Foods That are Gut Healing

Again this will by highly individual, however, most people do well with cooked green vegetables (raw will be harder to digest), fresh meats (not cured or smoked, so no bacon/sausage/smoked salmon or canned meats) carbohydrates from potatoes, berries, melons, a lot of people do well with banana, and small amounts of gluten free/wheat free grains, such as rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. Note that onions and garlic while not unhealthy, may trigger GI symptoms in people with IBS, so proceed cautiously with these. I would highly recommend trying out probiotic foods and see how you do. Start with kefir as it is the most tolerated and effective probiotic food in my opinion. Other foods you can try are high quality sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha. However, if you find that these food flare your gut and bloat you up, you may not be ready for them. You need them, but your gut is not quite ready to handle them. In this case, just keep doing your elimination diet and eating the other healing foods. You can always add in probiotic foods once your SIBO has subsided.

Once you know which foods your body can break down for fuel and sweep easily along the digestive tract, SIBO will gradually subside along with your symptoms. The main key is to keep food moving. You do not want food to be sitting in your gut fermenting and feeding the bad bacteria. Ideally, you should be having at 2 BMs per day.

Supplements

Adding in some targeted supplements can go a long way healing your gut and control the SIBO overgrowth. Please note that while supplements are helpful, some people will also need to work with a physician and use pharmaceutical antibiotics to kill off some of the bad bacteria in order to get started with their gut healing. If your case is bad enough to need antibiotics, make sure to introduce probiotics afterwards.  

  1. Berberine – this herb has antibacterial properties that kill SIBO related bacteria. (Fun fact that this is the plant that the common diabetes medication Metformin comes from. Metformin also works on the gut in diabetic patients to stop the absorption of sugar)
  2. Betaine HCL – this will help increase your stomach acid and kill off bad bacteria as well as breaks down food and keeps it moving through the intestine, excellent for people with constipation
  3. Enteric-coated peppermint oil – mint sooths the GI tract and can help calm your symptoms
  4. Gentain root or Swedish bitters – Not only do these bile stimulating bitters improve stomach acid, they are also great for people with constipation as they keep food moving through the GI tract

So if you are one of the 70 million Americans living with digestive problems, do not ignore or dismiss them as normal! They are common, but not normal. This could be at the root cause of why you are unable to lose weight and experiencing seemly unrelated symptoms of fatigue, irritability, and constipation, to name a few.

If you suspect SIBO or have questions or concerns please contact me today!

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