I was joking with my partner about how unfortunate it would be to get sick on the plane back from Bali… and unfortunate was what I was about to become. Although I managed to keep everything in on the plane, my first stop when getting off was to vomit in the closest bathroom I could make it to. That was followed by being pushed around on a luggage trolley whilst I threw up in a bag. I was rushed through customs as a health risk, but on the bright side, I’ve never seen anyone get through customs that quickly. I spewed the entire journey back home, and our Uber definitely wished he had never accepted the trip.
I’ll fast forward through some gross details (like the state of my bed sheets that night), but what I thought was just bad “Bali belly” turned out to be severe campylobacter, a type of food poisoning. The crazy thing about food poisoning is that the immune response and the bacteria can cause microscopic damage to the gut lining. In the short term, you’ll hardly notice this damage, but problems can start to occur over time.
All the antibiotics they filled me with after also completely wiped out my gut microbiome. The result was perfect conditions for SIBO. More to come on this because I didn’t know what it was either…
Food poisoning is one of many potential causes that can lead to SIBO, but it’s far from the only one. Studies even suggest up to 80% of all IBS may be caused by SIBO.
I seemingly recovered from my episode of food poisoning. All seemed to return to normal, and life went on as usual.
It wasn’t until months after that I started developing uncomfortable and severe bloating. It came on slowly, as did my soon-to-be rapidly growing list of food intolerances. Both continued to get worse until they ruled my daily life.
The damage to my digestive tract affected what’s known as the migrating motor complex (MMC). The migrating motor complex is a wave-like motion that sweeps through the gut roughly every 90 minutes. You can think of it like the “house cleaner” of your gut and small intestine that sweeps residual undigested material and bacteria through the digestive tract. It keeps bacterial levels in check. Damage to the gut lining, as can happen when someone experiences severe food poisoning, can hinder the MMC’s ability to function optimally. At first, the changes are nearly unnoticeable, but with time, more and more bacteria can start to build up from the “inefficient” cleanup, leading to many issues.
What happens is too many bacteria start to populate the small intestine. That’s what happened to me. The bacteria then ferment the foods you eat in the wrong part of the gut, causing gas build-up, which can cause even more structural damage to the gut lining and worsen the issue. This gas build-up becomes extremely painful as this area wasn’t designed to be stretched by gases like the large intestine. There is also no easy exit for the gas, which can lead to symptoms like pair and reflux caused by pressure on the stomach. My bloating was becoming no joke. A bit of bloating is normal, food has to go somewhere, but this.. this was not normal.
On top of this, the bacteria can consume the nutrients you need for things like hair growth, which can lead to deficiencies, which happened to me. I started losing hair by the handful and developed psoriasis and acne, which I had never had. Both these conditions have been closely linked to our gut health.
Skin issues are statistically higher in those with gut issues, as are anxiety and depression and inflamatory-based diseases.
It got so bad that I was having such painful reactions after eating that I became socially withdrawn and very anxious around food.
This was my reality for far too long. The worst part was that nobody knew what was going on. I saw so many doctors and tried so many products, but nothing helped. SIBO is highly underdiagnosed and unrecognised, with many people unaware it exists.
I had numerous doctors gaslight me about what I was going through.
I took it upon myself to do some research and find answers. That is when I learnt about SIBO. I found a doctor who knew about it and tried me on antibiotics for it (that cost a lot). They actually did something! I was so happy I thought I’d finally found something that worked. That was short-lived, and I relapsed after two weeks, retreated and eventually just stopped responding.
My symptoms came back, and I was back to square one.
2 out of 3 people will relapse from SIBO post-antibiotic treatment
However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel for me. A study showed that natural antimicrobials can be as effective as antibiotics for SIBO, have additional benefits to the gut and are an excellent option for non-responders and people who chronically relapse.
My ingredient research is when I found FixBIOME and its products. Their products not only included the clinically studied antimicrobial ingredients shown in the literature to be effective for SIBO, but they also included ingredients that studies found could help stimulate the MMC, aid in restoring the gut’s structural integrity/tight junctions and support the development of beneficial bacteria downstream.
Their products were doctors and naturopaths developed and used a proprietary manufacturing process that optimises for the gut. After trying so many failed products, I found learning about their manufacturing process interesting. All this gave me the confidence to give their system a shot.