Addressing SIBO without Antibiotics
Hi I am Judy,
At age 66 I am no stranger to gut problems. The first memory I have is constipation, sometimes painful and always on my mind. My next distressing memory were several urgent bathroom episodes in middle school—one in which my teacher refused permission to use the restroom, and due to urgency I bolted from the room anyway.
Humiliating episodes like this occurred randomly, and at teen level of maturity had no idea what was causing it. Days and weeks might go by with no problems, then suddenly, another cramping urgent episode—not necessarily diarrhea, but always uncontrollable.
Memories flood back of the early days in nursing school, breakfasts in the cafeteria of at least 2 glasses of orange juice, 2 pieces of toast, followed in an hour by several episodes of diarrhea, all while trying to get started on my morning patient rounds. I succumbed to all the dietary recommendations of the 80’s and 90’s—plenty of whole grains, veggies, fruits, pastas, and attempts at lower fat diets.
Following marriage and my first 2 children, I continued these random attacks of urgent bowel episodes. I now tried to associate these with foods. Articles I read always implicated fat, but certainly NEVER mentioned carbs.
At age 50 I tried low carb dieting which helped and gave me a more quiet gut
However, I noticed that there would still be occasional episodes. I was getting more savvy and now started wondering about raw vegetables. I ate huge salads with a lot of dressing. Inevitably, I would have more urgent IBS episodes. Still though – I was simply guessing and missed the mark as there were so many other times when this happened that did not seem related to raw vegetables.
Then at age 59, I had a routine colonoscopy as there were many with bowel cancer in my family. Sure enough, a pre-cancerous polyp on my ileo cecal valve necessitated surgery. Following surgery and an intense course of antibiotics, I enjoyed the best gut health of my life.
I thought I was done with gut issues. Now of course we know that antibiotics can indeed make a case of SIBO and also IBS quiet down for some time. Then six months after surgery, symptoms began to return, as did my discouragement. This time, I decided to visit a naturopath. After hearing my history she immediately did a test for SIBO and of course it was quite positive. I was treated with herbal antibacterial agents for six weeks, a motility drug, and put on a SIBO specific diet.
Improvement did happen on this SIBO specific diet but…
I went for probably 6 months without any real problems, but again, symptoms began to return even ON the diet. By now I was researching a lot of diets, convinced that this was definitely mostly food related. I tried at least four of the diets recommended for SIBO. Partial improvement but no real FULL success. I then was due for a follow up colonoscopy – this is now 3 years from the surgery.
At that time my gastroenterologist suggested Rifaximin. I gave in – and as you might guess sure enough I got results – this time though, for only 4 months. Symptoms were again back. 3 more years of frustrating dietary experiments gave no better results. And an attempt to do a weight loss program that used 3 days of low fat with starches and 5 days of keto shot me into a full blown SIBO flare.
I was just about to accept that I would need these courses of antibiotics every few months, when, out of the blue, FAST TRACT DIET came across my facebook feed!
I almost passed it up – I was pretty fed up with trying diets, and I knew I was in a major flare again. BUT I bought the Fast Tract Digestion IBS book, read it in 2 hours, bought the Fast Tract Diet Mobile App, and for the first time in many months I was REALLY excited. I knew, the minute I read Dr. Norm’s theory about the fermentation potential of the specific carb groups, he was DEFINITELY on to something.
This explained why I would have success when eliminating a lot of carbs but still not 100% success as I was using sugar alcohols, too MANY veggies, what I thought were healthy veggies like sweet potato, and many other highly fermentable veggies and fruits. I started the diet immediately.
My symptoms improved from day one being on the Fast Tract Diet
To my surprise, the book also revealed that reflux and LPR were related to SIBO. So I was delighted when those symptoms left first! Within a few days my reflux (characterized by symptoms of acidic burping and mid sternal pain) disappeared. It took a few more weeks for things like gravelly voice, sore throat, dry cough to completely disappear. The terrible bloat and pain in my upper bowel took a bit longer but I knew it was definitely better and improving daily.
I tracked everything that went into my mouth and it was profound to see the spikes on the dashboard of the app. I quickly eliminated starches, most fruits, and had previously eliminated sugar alcohols and legumes anyway as I was on a mostly lo carb diet.
There were some setbacks – but I knew exactly what caused it – the first was jasmine rice. Although it’s low FP, and you may be fine with it, it did not agree with me personally during recovery.
Second, a roll with cassava flour, eaten in a restaurant was also problematic. The rice brought back reflux with such a vengeance I was sick several days. The roll brought back bloating and pain.
These were CLEAR examples of how well the app worked for me. The BIGGEST takeaway was learning how all the so called “healthy” foods full of resistant starches are my worst enemy!!!
I chose to consult with Dr. Norm, as without an ileo cecal valve I feared I would be facing future issues with excess bacterial growth. He was a tremendous help in helping me dig deep into all potential underlying causes and ruling out all other detrimental considerations. I felt armed with knowledge and a full list of approaches I had never considered and even though I am a nurse I received information I had never thought about and which later came in handy when I had a couple setbacks.
I was SO glad I decided to be a part of his consultation program. I highly recommend it for those struggling with difficult issues.
Lastly, I continue to revel in the power that this has given me, and the new freedom. I have had ZERO IBS attacks since this diet. I no longer fear sudden urgent bowel episodes.
I know what to choose, how much to choose and how close together I should have them. I can experiment but with a much greater degree of confidence and I now can be absolutely certain whether it will work or not.
And the beauty of this all is I still eat a HUGE variety of food, feel better than ever and know with certainty I will NEVER be consuming antibiotics for SIBO again. My blood work is excellent, and my PCP and acupuncturist both were very impressed at my progress and definitely would recommend this diet to others.