Have you heard of the term peristalsis? It refers to the movement of food down our digestive tract. This movement of food is controlled by our migratory motor reflex (MMC), and when it slows down bloating can be one of the first symptoms.
The migrating motor complex (MMC) is a cyclic, recurring motility pattern that occurs in the stomach and small intestine during fasting. It is interrupted every time we eat. In people with digestive symptoms this system has often been damaged.
How does this occur?
One of the major causes for MMC dysfunction is exposure to pathogenic bacteria combined with low levels of stomach acid.
When eating out (or even eating in) there is a risk of being exposed to pathogenic strains of bacteria. Overseas travel to third world countries can increase the risk further due poorer hygiene levels and contaminated water supplies.
In someone with healthy levels of stomach acid this bacteria is effectively killed before it can make its way further down the digestive tract. However, if stomach acid is low then these bacteria can make their way down to our small intestine. This bacteria then release chemical messages which signal the immune system to go into combat. The immune system is doing its job. The problem however is that the walls of our small intestine can become damaged in the process.
Within the walls of our small intestine there is a special type of cell referred to as the interstitial cell of Cajal (ICC). These cells serve as electrical pacemakers within our digestive tract, stimulating contractions of the surrounding smooth muscle.
When the ICC becomes damaged so does the migrating motor complex, and peristalsis is impaired. There is now no longer a housekeeper present to sweep up the waste and bacteria within the small intestine.
This results in a build-up of undigested food inside our small intestine which is fermented by the bacteria, producing hydrogen and methane gas. This results in uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and flatulence. Over time this bacteria begins to overgrow, leading to a condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
But that’s not all.
The bacteria inside our small intestine (which would normally inhabit our large intestine) produce enzymes, which are designed to assist in the breakdown of food. The problem with this is that these very same enzymes also begin to eat away at the lining of our small intestine, further damaging our ICC and MMC, creating a viscous cycle.
How do I know if I have SIBO?
Common symptoms of SIBO include bloating and distention, constipation and diarrhoea or a mixture or both, abdominal pain, acid reflux/heartburn, flatulence, burping and nausea. The toxins released by the bacteria can also contribute to fatigue and brain fog, making it difficult to concentrate or remember things, as well as weight issues and number of nutritional deficiencies.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then Rosemarie Walmsley is experienced in the treatment of SIBO and has helped many patients get relief from the bloating, brain fog and weight issues that are commonly associated with SIBO.
Please visit our booking page to organise your a free 30 minute discovery call to see if Rosemarie is a good fit for your needs.