There are trillions of tiny bacteria living in your gut. Don’t worry – they’re friendly! In fact, they’re the best friends you’ve got.
While you meet your human bestie for a Starbucks date or a weekend Netflix binge, those gut bacteria are hard at work protecting 70% of your immune system, maintaining your weight and energy levels, producing important nutrients, and keeping you in a good mood – even after that tear-jerking comedy that takes a dramatic turn in the end!
Learn more about how a healthy gut can support immune health, help you maintain a steady mood, and be the best fat burner in this article.
How Trouble Starts
You may not be aware of just how important gut health is. As a result, we flood their digestive systems with the stuff of microbial nightmares including:
- Inflammatory foods like gluten and soy
- Toxins such as pesticides, mold, or fungus
- Heavy metals like mercury, lead, and arsenic
- Medications, including antibiotics, NSAIDs, opioids, PPIs, antacids, and steroids
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Too much alcohol
- Foodborne bacteria
The result is that you get an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria, and the good guys in your gut dwindle in numbers.
Anything that slows down digestion can cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) – things like chronic stress, frequent snacking, and even low stomach acid can cause issues in the gut.
Soon, you may be overrun by hostile invaders, causing bacteria and fungal infections. The lower the number of helpful bacteria in your digestive tract, the harder it is for your body to fend off an attack.1
My Ultimate Health Roadmap is a short, actionable guide that shows you how easy it can be to take small but important steps every day toward staying fit, healthy, and positive. Grab your FREE guide here.
What Are SIBO & SIFO?
While they sound vaguely like characters from a kids’ TV show, SIBO and SIFO are actually deadly serious.
Both conditions occur when outsiders overpower your natural gut flora, or your normal bacteria occur in numbers too large for your system to handle healthily. And both conditions lead to uncomfortable, dangerous results if left unchecked.2, 3
One key difference:
- SIBO features a variety of bacteria
- The most common culprit with SIFO is candida yeast
Breaking your fast with a protein smoothie can support gut health, protect your immune system, and make you the best fat burner. I've included over 50 delicious recipes in this Smoothie Guide. Get yours free here.
How Do You Know if You Have SIBO or SIFO?
The most obvious signs of SIBO and SIFO are gut discomfort and digestive issues. However, there are other symptoms that can help you determine whether you’re at risk. (To understand why the signs below indicate an unhealthy gut, be sure to read this article.)
To find out whether you have symptoms of SIBO or SIFO, answer the simple yes-or-no questions in the quick one-minute quiz below.
SIGNS OF SIBO & SIFO
- Do you often suffer from digestive symptoms like gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or cramping?
- Have you gained or lost weight, even though your diet hasn’t changed?
- Are you frequently fatigued, even when you get good sleep?
- Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s, lupus, fibromyalgia, or MS?
- Do you have trouble focusing or often feel foggy mentally?
- Do you have skin issues like acne, psoriasis, eczema, or hives?
- Have you struggled with mood swings, anxiety, depression, or a panic disorder?
- Do you get frequent infections, especially UTIs, vaginal infections, skin infections, or ear infections?
- Do you have strong sugar and carb cravings?
- Do you have seasonal allergies?
- Do you have food intolerances?
- Do you have a B12 deficiency?
Scoring Your Results
If you answered “yes” to 0-1 questions, congratulations! Your risk of SIBO or SIFO is low. To maintain your gut health, be sure you eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and choose whole, organic foods.
It’s also important to manage your stress levels, get 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night, and take a quality probiotic supplement. (Flora Harmony is a high-performing formula that includes 50 billion CFUs of the top 10 most-researched probiotic strains for superior gut support.*)
If you answered “yes” to 2-3 questions, your gut needs some TLC! In addition to the gut-healthy habits above, getting started on The Virgin Diet will put you on the path towards gut repair and recovery.
You’ll eliminate the 7 most inflammatory foods in a 3-week cleanse and replace them with healthy, healing foods. Then you’ll test to find out which foods can safely be added back to your diet, and which ones should stay out for good.
If you answered “yes” to 4 or more questions, consider this a life-saving wake-up call! SIBO/SIFO can lead to more serious conditions such as autoimmune disorders, nutrient deficiencies, IBS, and fibromyalgia.
Your score indicates you may want to contact a functional health practitioner to get formally tested. Common lab tests might include a SIBO breath test, a pathogen screen, and an organic acids test.
If you test positive for either or both SIBO and SIFO, you may also want to avoid conventional probiotics, which can contribute to bacterial overgrowth and may make symptoms worse. Taking a soil-based probiotic instead can improve immune function and reduce inflammation, while fighting off the bad bacteria and promoting healthy gut diversity.
What to Eat if You Have SIBO or SIFO
The foods we eat can be feeding healthy gut bacteria or starving them, so finding the right diet is a major part of recovery from SIBO or SIFO!
In addition to addressing food sensitivities, you may want to follow a low-FODMAP diet for the short term. As you recover, start repopulating and feeding the healthy flora with prebiotics, fiber, and fermented foods.
Finally, maintaining a low-sugar impact diet is critical to prevent a relapse, especially if SIFO is diagnosed. My Sugar Impact Diet book is the perfect place to begin when you want to gradually eliminate sneaky sugars from your diet.
When your gut is healthy and happy, your immune system is able to protect you from harmful infections and outside attacks, keeping you energetic, vibrant, and feeling amazing for the long haul!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.