Yes, Kefir can definitely help in the treatment of SIBO in at least two ways:
- First of all, through its well-known ability to compensate for the damages caused by antibiotics. Since SIBO is typically treated with antibiotics, Kefir may be a valuable supplement to this treatment.
- Secondly, Kefir’s probiotics play an additional and vital role against the harmful bacterial overgrowth in the base of SIBO.
Let’s have a look at the details:
What is SIBO?
SIBO is an abbreviation standing for “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth“. It is an overgrowth in the small intestine of bacteria that normally do not belong to this part of the gastrointestinal tract.
These harmful bacteria normally shouldn’t be able to make their way to the small intestine because the powerful stomach acids should destroy them before they enter this part of the GI tract. Yet, for one reason or another, these bacteria succeed to survive the harsh stomach environment and reach the small intestine where they thrive and cause problems.
SIBO affects between 6% and 15% of the population and usually occurs when a risk factor like surgery or gastrointestinal disease slows down food processing in the digestive tract. As a result, food in the small intestine becomes stagnant – an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria followed by their overgrowth causing foods malabsorption.
Besides overgrowing and overwhelming the usual bacteria in the intestine, these harmful bacteria may also produce toxins that interfere with the absorption of nutrients, thus slowing down food absorption even further and causing more problems.
The common symptoms of SIBO are stomach pains, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence, and overall discomfort in the abdominal area.
While SIBO is, as we said, often due to a complication after abdominal surgery, it may also result from different diseases such as gastroenteritis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, etc. SIBO is considered one of the forms of a more general condition called IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Like IBS, one of the reasons for SIBO can also be attributed to a weakened immune system.
If left untreated, SIBO leads to lasting abdominal discomfort, sometimes followed by severe complications like dehydration and persistent signs of malnutrition.
How is SIBO treated?
SIBO usually is treated with a combination of antibiotics and a specific type of diet. Such a diet typically consists of low carbohydrate foods in combination with probiotics as a counter-measure against the adverse effects of antibiotics.
The problem is that, beyond eliminating the harmful bacterial overgrowth causing SIBO, antibiotics also kill all good bacteria in the intestines leading to dysbiosis in the entire gastrointestinal tract. As a result, symptoms of SIBO like bloating, cramps, and diarrhea usually re-appear and persist.
Even worse! A course of antibiotics can by itself be a reason for the occurrence of SIBO symptoms.
However, taking probiotics could help return the bacterial balance in the gut to normal, thus alleviating the SIBO symptoms and significantly improving the overall efficiency of the SIBO treatment.
How can Kefir help in SIBO treatment?
One of the most significant drawbacks of SIBO diets is that they usually focus on relieving the syndrome’s symptoms instead of addressing its causes. And the leading cause of SIBO is, as its name says, bacterial overgrowth or, in other words, a disrupted bacterial balance in the small intestines.
Here is the place to remind that one of the most notorious benefits of Kefir is precisely its ability to restore and harmonize the bacterial balance in our entire gastrointestinal tract, including the small intestines.
A pilot study evaluating the efficacy of probiotics on treatment in patients with SIBO confirmed that adding probiotics to the therapy of SIBO is beneficial in easing the SIBO symptoms and preventing the syndrome’s complications.
Another publication of the US National Library of Medicine states that “Given the various potential adverse effects associated with the use of antibiotics and prolonged courses of antibiotics, the definition of a therapeutic role for probiotics and prebiotics in SIBO would represent a major step forward.”
Considering the probiotics’ ability to repopulate the gut’s microbiota, it is no surprise that researchers found Kefir to be highly beneficial in treating SIBO and its symptoms.
However, addressing the actual underlying condition is the only way to cure SIBO. Underlying conditions causing SIBO may be celiac disease, diabetes, some autoimmune disorders, and several other diseases.
That is why, although Kefir can help to alleviate the SIBO symptoms and compensate for the adverse effects of the antibiotic treatment or SIBO, the actual reason behind the occurrence of this syndrome should be addressed by qualified healthcare professionals.
SIBO, standing for “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth,” is an overgrowth in the small intestine of bacteria that normally shouldn’t be able to make their way to this part of the GI tract.
SIBO affects between 6% and 15% of the world’s population and usually occurs after gastric surgery or another disease that slows down food processing in the digestive tract creating an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
SIBO is usually treated through a combination of antibiotics and a low-carb diet.
Kefir can help treat SIBO not only through its well-known ability to compensate for the damages caused by antibiotics but also by Kefir’s probiotics that play an additional and direct role against the harmful bacterial overgrowth underlying SIBO.
The powerful probiotics of Kefir play an essential role in the treatment of SIBO by directly overwhelming the bacterial overgrowth lying behind this condition.
- Is it true that SIBO always re-occurs, despite treatment? The actual causes underlying SIBO are yet to be identified by scientists. Still, some diseases such as diabetes, Celiac disease, and some genetic predispositions may play a role in repetitive occurrences of SIBO symptoms. On the other hand, regular intake of probiotic foods such as Kefir ensures an equally constant flow of beneficial bacteria that may counteract the harmful bacterial overgrowth causing SIBO. Moreover, the ability of Kefir’s bacteria to colonize the intestines makes its beneficial effect on SIBO symptoms lasting more than any other probiotic food.
- Can SIBO be treated only with probiotics? The short answer: it is unlikely. While the intake of probiotic foods like Kefir will considerably improve your condition and ease SIBO symptoms, a healthcare professional should address the actual cause behind SIBO.