Learn how intermittent fasting can help SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), SIFO (small intestinal fungal overgrowth), inflammation and the dreaded constipation.

Intermittent fasting has a multitude of health benefits, but did you know that fasting can also help SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), SIFO (small intestinal fungal overgrowth), and inflammation and the dreaded constipation? Read on to learn how to reduce health-related issues and improve gut health with intermittent fasting.

What causes SIBO and SIFO?

SIBO and SIFO are an overgrowth of bacteria/fungi, respectively, in the small intestine that release gas and can lead to flatulence, pain, bloating and feeling full, even after only eating a small amount. A long period of fasting, especially overnight, can reduce the risk of SIBO/SIFO by improving the migrating motor complex (MMC). When the MMC is not properly functioning, the food you eat may remain in the stomach and small intestine much longer than is healthy, which can contribute to the development of SIBO/SIFO.

Hormone imbalances including thyroid, cortisol, and sex hormones can also lead to a slow MMC. Interventions to prevent and treat the imbalances can be as simple as mindful chewing of food and using high quality probiotics. A natural prokinetic agent like ginger can also help. In addition, natural supplements that contain licorice root, marshmallow root, aloe vera and slippery elm can heal the gut lining and treat acid reflux.

Studies have shown that people with IBS likely have disruptions in their MMC. Causes for MMC reduction point to food poisoning or other bacterial infections, which lead to changes in the gut microbiome and prolonged use of stomach acid reduction medications (like Prilosec). A lactulose breath test can diagnose SIBO, and the OAT (Organic Acids Test) can determine if SIFO is the culprit for your symptoms.

What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation can begin by eating foods that you are sensitive or allergic to, which can result in nerve damage within the gut and inability to properly signal the MMC. That being said, outside of gluten, dairy, and sugar (which seem to all be universally inflammatory), there can be other food sources that cause issues. This inflammation can spread outside of the gut, causing openings in the gut lining that can leak into the bloodstream. This leaking of food particles and bacteria can cause an inflammatory cascade setting up the perfect storm for developing autoimmune diseases that can affect organs (like the thyroid gland) and also cause muscle and joint pain.

So, how can you tell what is causing your inflammation? The Mediator Release Test (MRT) is an advanced food sensitivity test that looks at 170 food and food-chemical reactions to help identify your triggers. Using the results, you will then begin an elimination diet over a period of time, while working alongside a dietitian, to help reduce inflammation. After the elimination segment, reintroduction of the least inflammatory foods is initiated and symptoms are monitored to determine which foods should be eliminated from our diets for a longer period of time. Some foods may always cause symptoms; however, many may be able to be tolerated on a limited basis once reintroduced.

How Can Constipation Affect Your Body?

Slow transit of food through the digestive tract, due to the deceased function of the MMC, can lead to constipation from excess fluid reabsorption. In addition to the discomfort of constipation, the lack of bowel movements will reduce the elimination of toxins from our system. We rely on this excretion to reduce toxic build-up in our bodies. Unfortunately, we have huge toxic burdens that are affecting our health now as compared to the past, making it more crucial now than ever to have an efficient detoxification system in place.

Increasing fiber from plant sources such as nuts, seeds and raw vegetables can help with preventing and treating constipation. Adequate magnesium intake is another important addition for more regularity. However, don’t fully rely on stool softeners and bowel stimulants for regularity, as these medications can become habit forming.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

From weight loss to cellular health, intermittent fasting has an array of health benefits! Not only does it reduce inflammation, decrease the risk of SIBO/SIFO, and help with detoxification, but it can fit within many different lifestyles due to the flexibility it provides. An introduction of a prolonged 12-14 hour overnight fast can have a beneficial impact on health. In addition, spacing food throughout the day, rather than grazing, is an added benefit to improve MMC function. While there are different time intervals for fasting, our suggestion is to eat within a 12-hour window daily and give your body a 12-hour fast overnight. However, before you start, be sure sure to contact your healthcare provider to see if fasting is right for you.

Wondering what foods are best for IBS or SIBO? Download our 7-Day Beat the Bloat meal program here.

For more information on how we can help you treat gut health issues in holistic and natural way, book a free 20-minute discovery call here or check out these other blogs:

Why Should You Work with a Functional Dietitian
Buyer Beware: Not All Supplements are Created Equal
Toxic Burdens: What They Are and How to Avoid Them
The Power of Eating Hygiene