SIBO 101: Heal the Gut with the Carnivore Diet

SIBO 101:What Is It and How to Cure It

Gassy beyond belief? Dealing with rosacea? Do you have anxiety? 

All of these may be signs your gut bacteria is out of whack.

Technically this is known as dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut bacteria and one of the most common types of dysbiosis is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO for short.

Read on to learn more.

What is SIBO?

SIBO is a condition where more than normal levels of bacteria build up in the small intestine. Now, to be clear, bacteria is essential for a healthy human. We all have bacteria that lives in and around our bodies. Bacteria help our immune system function, digest food and even synthesis vitamins. However, when that bacteria grows too fast or ends up in the wrong place it can cause some trouble.

Most of our gut bacteria lives in the large intestine (also known as the colon). But, under some conditions bacteria migrate into the small intestine and grow out of control leading to SIBO. This may seem like no big deal, but SIBO actually fundamentally disrupts gut health.

This disruption has a domino-like effect on other aspects of health that require a normal well functioning gut including the immune function, digestion, absorption, the inflammatory process, the list goes on. 

Specific physiologic and psychological changes associated with SIBO include:

  • Damage to the gut lining
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Malabsorption 
  • Increased food reactivity (sensitivities and allergies)
  • Cognitive changes, sometimes referred to as “brain fog” including confusion, poor short term memory, impaired judgment, and difficulty concentrating (*).

Do you have SIBO? Symptoms of SIBO

Gas, bloating, distention, constipation and brain fog are well defined and common features of SIBO (*). This is because the type of bacteria setting up shop are predominantly anaerobic species that ferment carbohydrates into gas.

There are also symptoms that are further “downstream”, meaning they are connected to SIBO but indirectly. As a result, they are less likely to be identified as a problem caused by the condition (*).

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Rosacea

How common is SIBO?

It’s difficult to determine how many people have SIBO. As a condition it is commonly underdiagnosed. Why? Symptoms and associated conditions can be attributed to other factors or overlooked entirely.

Many people with SIBO are unaware that their symptoms are abnormal, perhaps they’ve lived with it for so long they don’t know any different or maybe they’ve just grown to live with the discomfort.

Some data does exist that can give us a ballpark of the problem. A random sample of the population shows that SIBO is present in anywhere from about 3-22% percent of people.

However, studies within the medical literature that look at populations with a particular health problem tend to trend higher (*,*). Tor example, take a look at prevalence among individuals with the below conditions.:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – 30-85%
  • Celiac Disease – 50%
  • Elderly with lactose malabsorption – 90%
  • Obesity – 17%
  • Liver Cirrhosis – >50%
  • Diabetes – 50-70%

Heart disease is also a common condition with a connection to SIBO. Although prevalence data among individuals with heart disease does not exist, a relationship has been identified (*). One study showed that among patients with SIBO prevalence of heart disease was around 80% compared to 38% prevalence among those without SIBO (*).

Because the health of the gut is so vital for every other aspect of health there is a little bit of a chicken and egg argument we could have here…which came first? Before you go down that road, it may help to review the causes of SIBO.

Causes of SIBO

Gut health is multifactorial, everything from foods, to medications to stress and sleep impact the gut. Even the air we breathe and personal care products we use impact the bacterial balance within our gut.

That being said, specific contributing factors to SIBO identified through research include:

  • Slow motility (when the digestive tract moves too slowly)
  • Low stomach acid
  • Antibiotic use
  • Some medications including proton pump inhibitors (medications that reduce stomach acid), opioids, some immunosuppressive medications
  • Aging
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Recent abdominal surgery

Treatment for SIBO

This is the million dollar question – How is SIBO treated? And more importantly, how is gut health restored. 

SIBO treatment has three parts: 

  1. Treat underlying conditions/disease
  2. Get rid of excess bacteria
  3. Address nutrient deficiencies

Addressing all of these areas may both provide relief as well as reduce the likelihood SIBO will come back – welcome news to someone with SIBO. 

This is where the carnivore diet comes in. You see, the carnivore diet tackles each one of these areas to restore gut health and may be able to catapult you into your best health. 

If you’re interested in getting started, sign up below for my free 30 day guide to getting started. 

Starve the Bugs & Restore Nutritional Status

Treating underlying conditions is obviously important. But to someone with SIBO, they just want to eat a meal without clearing a room with gas afterwards. So the fastest and easiest way to do this is to eliminate the food source for the bacteria.

But, before we go after all bacteria in the gut it’s important to remember that healthy bacteria live in the gut as well and play an important role in health. Gut bacteria synthesize vitamins, help digestion, boost immune function and produce antioxidants. So, the goal is to starve the pathogenic or “bad” bacteria and avoid killing off the good bacteria that keep us healthy. 

Bacteria in the gut feed off of starches and sugar. So traditional therapies reduce the most fermentable carbohydrates like beans, dairy, wheat, cauliflower – this is known as the low FODMAP diet. 

But for many, the low FODMAP isn’t good enough and doesn’t address overall gut health, like restoring the lining of the gut. This results in inadequate symptom relief and less than optimal gut function.

The carnivore diet on the other hand, completely starves the bad gut bacteria and keeps out inflammatory and other foods that can be harmful for gut health. 

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And, while data is limited, following the carnivore diet does seem to keep good bacteria alive. With more than adequate protein, the carnivore diet also nourishes the lining of the gut (a muscle). The diet removes what I call the “weapons of mass gut destruction”:

  1. Fiber
  2. Plant defense chemicals: gluten & lectin 
  3. FODMAPs
  4. Dairy

Even better, the protein helps repair the lining of the gut and restore nutritional status through inclusion of superfoods like organ meats, bone broth and ghee. 

If you’re like most people you may not realize all the health benefits of organ meats, like liver. That’s ok – I’m here to help heal you from the brainwashing that the only superfoods are grown in the ground or found in special supplement blends sitting on store shelves.

Check out all the nutrients in a single serving of liver:

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The carnivore diet is also high in nutrients that have been shown to be vital in gut health are abundant in the carnivore diet including:

  • Glutamine, an amino acid
  • Collagen, a type of protein
  • Zinc, a mineral

Address the Root Cause

First, if any known causes of SIBO need to be remedied. Otherwise, SIBO will continue to recur. Many of the underlying conditions and their medications that lead to SIBO are related to poor diet and inflammation:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes and elevated blood sugar
  • Heart disease
  • Heartburn
  • Slow motility

The carnivore diet does address many of these underlying conditions, reducing the need for medications that can further contribute to poor gut health and SIBO.

Eating only meat is essentially a very aggressive, muscle sparing, zero carb elimination diet. Without carbs, the body is forced into ketosis and uses body fat and dietary fat for fuel. Not only does this result in stellar physical and mental energy but normalized blood sugar and weight loss as well (check obesity and diabetes off the list).

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On the carnivore diet, as well as other zero carb diets, people commonly report their heartburn resolved and are able to go off of digestion disrupting medication. 

Reducing inflammatory foods is another hallmark of the carnivore diet that helps to reduce systemic inflammation in the body. Well known inflammatory foods like sugar, white flour, ultra processed foods, industrial plant oils, etc. and foods less commonly connected with inflammation like gluten, dairy, corn, soy, beans, and nightshades. Even vegetables can disrupt your gut health

It is well documented that stress is also bad for gut health. Whereas other diets and protocols for SIBO can be confusing and stressful, the carnivore diet actually reduces stress surrounding food. It is the most insanely simple way of eating. No more counting or measuring, tracking and guessing – it’s easy, just eat meat and get on with your symptom free life. 

The proof is in the pudding (or steak in this case)

I get it, you’re skeptical. Success stories may help. Read about Laney, Joe, Steve and Justin over on MeatRx.

Also thousands of people in Carnivore Nation have used the carnivore diet to cure their sibo.

What do you have to lose?

If you are struggling with SIBO, why not give the carnivore diet a try? People pay thousands of dollars for medications and treatments, spend hours trying to identify trigger foods and avoid living their life. What do you have to lose? 

The carnivore diet is a simple, effective solution that has the ability to reduce bacterial overgrowth, address underlying conditions and restore nutritional status. Spend less time suffering and more time living!