How much attention or thought do you put into your small intestine? Rarely do we hear much about this “small” organ. “Little things” can often be overlooked and in doing so, clues can easily be missed. Truly, the small intestine isn’t so very small….. It’s a 15-20 foot long digestion and absorption machine….. Usually overshadowed by its fore and aft kinsmen, the stomach and large intestine..
I relate to the small intestine as a middle child myself!😜 The stomach and large intestine have their individual strengths and frailties. While the small intestine has its own set of “responsibilities”, its wellbeing is greatly affected by sister stomach and brother colon.
If you’ll recall from last week’s chat about the stomach, having low stomach acid is not a good thing and may lead to some significant issues that literally drain into the small intestine. Have you ever heard of the term SIBO? It’s an acronym for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, occurring when bacteria in the colon (large intestine) travels upwards into the small intestine where a relatively small amount of bacteria should be present on any given day thanks to stomach’s healthy acid content and cousin pancreas’s contribution of digestive enzymes! If either the stomach or colon (or both) don’t perform as they should, the small intestine will suffer.
I’ve listed common clues of SIBO on the graphic. None of them are drop dead urgent clues, right? Annoying, irritating, and perhaps even aggravating ….. but nothing that would cause an urgent SOS trip to your favorite health professional.
In a perfect digestive family environment, a healthy small intestine is a strong contributor to overall health. It facilitates absorption of some minerals (including sulfur, calcium, copper, iron, & zinc), fat soluble vitamins A,D,E &K, B vitamins, and Vitamin C. Small intestine also facilitates absorption of sugars, proteins, cholesterol, and bile salts. It allows these nutrients to be absorbed all the while blocking foreign substances (ie: toxic “bullies”) from also being absorbed. If the small intestine walls become inflamed and damaged, it is unable to effectively discern between friend and foe, and bad influencers make it into the family body.
SIBO, if left unattended, contributes to:
🔥IBS, Diverticulosis, Crohn’s, Celiac, poor gut motility (greater than 75% have confirmed SIBO)
🔥Fibromyalgia (78% have confirmed SIBO)
🔥Restless Leg Syndrome
🔥RA, Scleroderma, and other autoimmune disorders
🔥Neuropathies due to deficiencies
In addition to poor stomach acid production, common contributors (aka lifestyle clues!!) to SIBO include:
🔎Poor diet (review what is typically known as the “Standard American Diet” / aka “SAD” indeed!)
🔎Mechanical issues (low stomach acid included here!)
🔎Antibiotic use (especially recurrent use)
🔎Regular use of acid reducers or proton pump inhibitors (ex: Nexium, Protonix, Prilosec)
🔎Opioid use (results in gut motility issues)
🔎NSAID use (ex: Ibuprofen, Naprosyn… damage the lining of the intestine)
🔎Gastric bypass surgery
🔎Moderate (or greater) alcohol use (est 90% have confirmed SIBO)
🔎Aging (due to decreased stomach acid and enzyme production)
🔎Long term colon dysfunction ( 78% of those with IBS have confirmed SIBO)
👉👉Note that while SIBO can be age related, it’s not uncommon to find it in children👦👧👶 who have chronic constipation/ diarrhea, have received antibiotics, are formula fed, or have received medication for reflux, or whose eating habits mirror the standard American diet.
It is estimated that 20-22% of the US population has some form of SIBO, and while there are ways to identify it through functional medicine testing, perhaps it may be more economical to simply identify existing physical and lifestyle clues, and then proceed towards alleviating the problematic areas.
❤️Showing the small intestine some love thru a healthy diet, adequate exercise, proper amounts of sleep are an excellent start! ❤️
Additional ways to support and love on the small intestine include:
❤️Consume 30-45 grams of soluble fiber daily (Hello Young Living ❤️Balance Complete Meal Replacement Shakes!)
❤️Digestive Enzyme supplements that contain Betaine HCl (Hello YL Essentialzyme caplets!)
❤️Probiotics (Hello YL Life 9 and for kiddos….. MightyPro!)
❤️Organic bone broth
❤️Olive leaf extract (Hello YL Olive Essentials capsules!)
❤️Young Living’s Peppermint, Caraway, Oregano, and Cinnamon Vitality essential oils. If you are a science hound, do some digging in pubmed.gov for a gold mine of information. If you are not a science hound, just know that these oils are your small intestine’s friends!
Remember that our bodies are constantly giving us clues which buys time before “big things” generally happen. I’m so thankful that the body has the resilience and capability to restore itself to good health when clues are recognized and supportive measures are implemented. SIBO is a clue itself, indicating a potential downward spiral of the entire body at some point in the future if not addressed.
Indeed…. Seemingly small things can often be important big ones!