SIBO Starts In Your Stomach

The true causes of SIBO and how to treat it from an Ayurvedic perspective.

In This Article

Part 2 Of 3 Part Series

In my series addressing the 5 major causes of SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and candida, I have addressed in detail in a previous article the impact of stress on the migration of large intestinal bacteria into the small intestines.

In upcoming blogs, I will discuss the impact of weak stomach acid, which I will touch on in this article, and still to come, the effects of medications (also addressed in this article), poor elimination and a chronic highly processed food diet.

As a review, when large intestinal bacteria migrate to the small intestines, the function of the small intestines can be severely compromised. This alters digestive enzyme function, intestinal assimilation of nutrients, and detoxification. These misplaced bacteria can irritate the intestinal skin and cause a host of intestinal concerns as well. (1,3)

Weak Stomach Acid

The stomach manufactures hydrochloric acid (HCl) in order to break down hard-to-digest proteins. Many of the undesirable bacteria that we consume daily are broken down here as one of our most powerful lines of defense against harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. (1)

When the stomach acid becomes weak and there is not enough acid to either break down our foods or destroy invading bacteria, many undesirable bacteria can safely pass through the stomach into the small intestines, where they cause many problems. (1,3)

Why Drugs Weaken Stomach Acid

There are a handful of reasons as to why the stomach would stop producing HCl. One of the most common is the over-use or extended use of medications. Obviously, antacids are high on this list, as they are actually designed to put out the digestive fire or HCl in an attempt to address the symptoms of heartburn. (2,3)

Not only will the drugs alter the health and diversity of the body’s microbiome, but the gut microbes can also alter the nature of the drugs themselves. (5) In some cases, the microbes can change the chemistry of a drug from being helpful to the body to being lethal to the body. (4)

The effect of pharmaceuticals on the stomach production of acid is best seen in the delivery system of vitamin B12. The stomach makes a protein called the “intrinsic factor” that escorts B12 into the blood, but only when the stomach is producing normal levels of acid. Medications can weaken the production of acid and slow the absorption of B12. 

>>> Learn more about B12 deficiencies here

The Role of Bile in HCl Production

Bile, which is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, acts as a buffer for the stomach acid. Basically, if there is a lack of good bile flow due to liver or gallbladder congestion, there may not be an adequate buffering system to neutralize the stomach acid once it enters into the small intestines.  If this lingers for an extended period of time, the stomach adapts to this by reducing or dialing down the production of stomach acid or HCl. This can cause chronic weak digestion and allow unwanted bacteria as well as undigested foods to enter the small intestine.

Boost Bile Flow

My favorite bile-boosting foods to add to your diet to help reset HCl production are:

  • Beets
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Artichokes
  • Leafy greens
  • Turmeric

Boost Your Stomach Acid

Once we have increased the bile and pancreatic enzyme flow, we can fire up the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid (HCl). Here are some of my favorite tips:

  • Chew fresh, raw ginger root, or drink ginger tea before and during a meal.
  • Dress a salad with oil and vinegar. Vinegar is ascetic acid, which boosts HCl. Apple cider vinegar works even better, because it is safe for high acid conditions.
  • Drink a large glass of water a half hour before a meal to pre-hydrate the stomach’s natural buffer layer. This tells the stomach that it is OK to make the needed acid and thus “cook” the food completely and protect you from bad bacterial exposure.
  • Enjoying small amounts of fermented foods as an appetizer will help kindle the digestive fire.
  • Sip hot water with lemon before or during the meal.
  • Add a little salt and pepper to a small glass of water and drink before a meal.
  • Spice food with fennel, cumin, coriander, ginger, cardamom (LifeSpa’s Gentle Digest).
  • Ginger, black pepper and long pepper (LifeSpa’s Warm Digest) is Ayurveda’s premier spice formula to increase HCl production

>>> Read part 1 of this series on SIBO & Candida here: 2 Minute SIBO Therapy Rediscovered

>>> Read part 3 of this series on SIBO & Candida here: Starve Your SIBO & Candida

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890937/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2974811/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099351/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679281/
  5. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6285/560

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