From constant abdominal pain to a ‘happy tummy’
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Jeremy came to see me for a consultation with what he felt was a very embarrassing problem. He was getting terrible wind pains and bloating in his belly, so much so that the girls at work were asking him when he was going to have his baby.
For women who have IBS and bloating this can create embarrassing moments, especially if they are of child-bearing age, but not actually pregnant.
When I looked at Jeremy’s diet, it was quite clear that he enjoyed lots of onions and garlic with every meal except breakfast. For breakfast, he loved oats with honey and grated apple.
I told him that just about everything he ate came under the classification of FODMAP foods and that his bloating was probably coming from the fermentation of these foods in his digestive system. He mentioned that he had been eating this way all his life, but only had the symptoms for the past 12 months since a trip to Bali where he was a bit sick with a tummy bug that was treated with antibiotics.
I said that it was quite likely that he had a small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) of the wrong type of bacteria and was low in good bacteria, and these would be setting off the cascade of events that lead to his symptoms.
As he couldn’t afford the test for SIBO or to look at his gut flora levels, we started with a low FODMAP diet and after a week on the diet his symptoms improved by about 80%. But because there was still some bloating, I changed him over to the slightly more restrictive diet for SIBO and put him onto some herbs for SIBO and the last 20% of his symptoms disappeared within another two weeks.
But, the program to clear SIBO needs to go longer than just the three weeks it took for Jeremy’s symptoms to go, when he thought he was cured and proceeded to eat his favourite foods again. Needless to say, his symptoms returned but not as bad, but enough to remind Jeremy to stick to the plan.
After the full 12-week SIBO program he was completely symptom free and found that the only thing he had to stay off completely was onions, although he could even eat a small amount if well cooked. He was happy with that.