Yes SIBO is real and yes this is going to be a rant-filled post.
In the thick of all the SIBO bull#$% these past couple months, I have been doing a ton of research. I have read thousands of words, dug into actual science regarding it, spoken with functional doctors about it, and listened to numerous podcasts relating to it.
And then I stumbled upon a blog post written by an extremely popular blogger. She is more of a lifestyle blogger who focuses on healthy/food recipes and self care than any sort of autoimmune and/or digestive blogger. Nonetheless, she wrote a post about SIBO and her experience with it.
I’m not going to link to the post or to her because I’m not here for he-said, she-said. I am going to point out things from the post because they made me so angry for me and for you my friend, who battles SIBO in an ugly way, too.
Test vs. Guess
First of all, it should be made very clear that she was never actually tested for SIBO, and that is one of my three main pillars for ultimate gut healing.
Based on some symptoms and acne, her naturopathic dermatologist had her start on the SIBO diet. When she went back to her (regular) naturopath, the naturopath said she never tested her SIBO because she believed “the test is flawed.” In her words, “She very rarely sees someone test negative, which indicates that either everyone has SIBO or that the test is not accurate.” Really? REALLY? Because I have a family member who tested negative when I’m certain that’s what’s going on with him. I know of countless people who have tested negative.
Of course the SIBO hype isn’t real if you don’t have SIBO.
She never did the test, but she still felt the need to do the diet. So she dove in with an 8-week diet and supplements galore. Let me be clear. When I say supplements galore, I mean that she was taking like 5 times the amount I am (and I have been diagnosed with SIBO).
She says the diet, herbals, and supplements made her digestion worse, and that the diet was so restrictive that she frequently had stress and anxiety around it.
Am I going to argue with this? Absolutely not. After all, if you don’t truly have SIBO then why on Earth would you think an intense diet, herbs, and supplements would be some sort of magic for you?
I’ve dealt with this for years now and while I see insane improvements with (the right) diet (for me) and supplements, I am still susceptible to relapse (clearly).
She then makes the statement that the intense SIBO diet is far from intuitive eating, that she doesn’t buy the SIBO hype, and that this strict way of eating can create disordered eating.
And you know what? Again, I will not argue with those points.
But on the other side of this coin, I’ll say that so many people just wish to live a life of intuitive eating and that gut healing is not a diet….or maybe it is?
If there was anything in the post I took seriously or considered for a true healing journey, it was completely wasted because “oh by the way, a probiotic in to save the day.”
The post was sponsored by a probiotic company. And why do I think this is extremely irresponsible? Because if you do have SIBO, you must be careful with the probiotic you take.
Dr. Siebecker (a leading SIBO expert) states, “There is concern with adding bacteria in the form of probiotics to an overgrowth of bacteria that’s already there. There is also concern that probiotics might create a relapse. That’s why many doctors don’t use probiotics when treating SIBO. Additionally, there are some patients whose symptoms are aggravated by probiotics, especially if they contain prebiotics.”
And guess what the said probiotic that sponsored the post contains? You guessed it – both probiotics and prebiotics.
Is SIBO a Real Condition?
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Do enough research (I have), and I have both evidence that SIBO is and is not real. One could debate either side, and either side might win.
My issue is with those who act like SIBO (or whatever you want to call it) is some made up mishap. Though there might not be a gold-standard test, the set of symptoms that make it up and definition are real and have been thoroughly documented.
It’s kind of like those who get in a tizzy about the phrase “Gotcha Day.” Gotcha Day = adoption finalization.
I don’t care what you call it; the meaning still remains. SIBO = an awful digestive disorder (or maybe disease, if the underlying condition is disease).
And if you have SIBO – whatever you want to call it – stumbling upon blog posts like hers is not helpful because:
- It makes you think you’re making it up in your head and/or
- Has you taking actions (like the probiotic or stopping the diet or whatever) that will not behoove you in the long run
It was completely ironic, but just before I stumbled upon her blog post, a probiotic company private messaged me on Instagram. They wanted to send me a month supply for free (how kind of them – insert sarcasm). I did my research and noted the first ingredient, “100% Natural Fruit juices.” So I politely declined, “No thank you.”
They came back with, “What a shame you will pass on something that has genuinely been handpicked to better your health and lifestyle for completely free but no worries.”
(Enter my livid state.)
I responded with, “‘It’s not a shame. I have SIBO and UC. I don’t just take whatever, whenever because it’s free. I’m not the blogger who will promote products in exchange for a month supply that might not only not help at all but might also do me more harm. I’m glad you are proud of your product, but telling me this is a “shame” is not right. Have a great day.”‘
And that is the honest, real, and raw truth, my friends.
I’m so tired of people who have no business acting like they know everything about something when they have never truly lived it, and then on top of it shilling for brand product and money.
I have vowed to myself and to you that I will not do that.
Yes SIBO is Real
I will never tell you that your SIBO (or anything else) is not real.
Your “hard” is not mine; that’s okay, it’s still real.
Yes SIBO is real.
Yes this gut stuff is a pain for all of us, and no you do not have to feel like just going back to “intuitive eating” is all you need to do to get your life right.
I tell my husband this constantly, but “you just can’t make this s#$$ up.” And he gets it because he sees it, lives with it, and knows that I would do anything to click my heels to make it just go away.
Healing the gut is going to take hard work, time, and persistence, and if you’ve been DIAGNOSED with anything, you must know that.
Of course you must live life , but trust me, those in the depths of an ugly, awful gut don’t just get to engage in some whimsical intuitive eating lifestyle, hope-for-the-best scenario.
There is no easy escape, but I’m here listening anytime you need it, and I’m remembering each and every single one of my Gutsy friends during every occasion when you stumble upon people and blog posts who dismiss something you know to be very real, raw, and maddening on a daily basis.
And I’ll never stop sharing the truths.
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