Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 3

If you find something where it isn’t supposed to be, you take it from where it shouldn’t be and put it where it should. Right? For example, if you found a sharp knife in a child’s toy box, you’d take it out of the toy box and put it where it belongs. Right?

This can happen with microbes in your gut. Yes, really.

(FYI – This is the third in a series of Removing What’s Bugging You. You can find the prior posts here: Got Gut Issues? The 5R’s Can Help, Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1, Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 2.)

Sometimes the microbes in your microbiome, microbes that should be in your large intestine, move to your small intestine. Those sneaky little suckers. Some of them can actually swim upstream and move from your large to your small intestine.

Once they reach the small intestine, the party begins!

Remember the small intestine is where the final part of digestion happens and absorption of the food molecules occurs. If microbes end up in the small intestine, they start digesting the food they find there, rather than waiting until the leftover food gets into the large intestine.

Why is this a problem? Because after these guys digest the food, one of the things they produce is gas. This means that you end up with gas in your small intestine. And, you feel it. You’ll feel gas and bloating along with, potentially, all the other GI symptoms we’ve talked about – constipation, diarrhea, maybe heartburn, acid reflux, and nausea. And, other symptoms as well.

Again, these symptoms are non-specific. Which can be confusing when trying to figure out what is causing your problems.

This issue, microbes in the small intestine, is called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO – pronounced See-Bō).

How do you know if you have SIBO? The best way is through a hydrogen breath test. You eat a restricted diet for a day, fast for 24 hours, drink a special drink, then blow into some tubes it given intervals for a period of time.

If it turns out you do have SIBO, you can work with your doctor to formulate a plan to address the issue and get those bad guys out of your small intestine. Some dietary interventions may help, too.

You can also start figuring out if SIBO may be an issue by logging your food, drinks, symptoms, etc. This will help you narrow down if it could be SIBO. Symptoms from SIBO appear within a couple of hours of eating when symptoms from other parts of your body happen at other times – earlier sooner or later after eating.

If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, click here to get your Symptom Log. If you want to learn more about food sensitivity testing, you use the “Contact” area on my website.

Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 2



If you’re at a party, and someone you’re talking to is being obnoxious do you look for ways to remove yourself from the conversation? I do.

The microbes in your gut are having one huge cocktail party. They’re getting together, digesting fiber, making vitamins and other things your body needs. What happens when one type of bug, one that isn’t helpful to you, starts getting obnoxious? What about if they start showing up in droves and outnumbering all the good bugs who just want to have a good time? All these bad bugs start bullying the good bugs. And, the good bugs leave the party.

What then?

This is another piece of the Remove puzzle of the “5 R’s of Gut Restoration”. Removing those bullying, obnoxious bad bugs. (Last week, I posted “Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1“.)

Why get rid of the bad bugs?

These bad bugs can produce toxins that your body has to deal with.  A few things they can cause include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Allergies
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue

These non-specific symptoms which makes figuring out what’s causing them difficult.

When there is an imbalance of microbes, like more bad than good bugs (or bugs that shouldn’t be there at all), it’s called dysbiosis.

Is there a test for dysbiosis? Some stool tests measure the type and quantity of microbes in your stool. This indicates the balance of microbes in your intestines.

If you find you have a dysbiosis what do you do then? It depends. . . . It depends on what is causing the dysbiosis. Depending on what is causing the issues – yeast, fungal, bacteria, or an overgrowth of specific bacteria – the treatment is tailored to what is causing the issue.

If you’ve logged your food or done an elimination diet and haven’t been able to figure out what’s causing the issue, dysbiosis may be the cause. In next week’s blog, I’ll talk about Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). It’s a type of dysbiosis that is often misunderstood, and either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, you can do so here. If you want to learn more about food sensitivity testing, you use the “Contact” area on my website.

Removing What’s Bugging You – Part 1

If you have a mosquito biting you, you remove it. Right? If you have an ant biting you, you remove it. Right? OK. You kill the mosquito or the ant.

What about if you have a food that you react to? If that food revs up your immune system? Causes you to have headaches? Or, just not feel good? Wouldn’t you remove it?

When talking about food allergies and intolerances it’s important to distinguish the difference. A true food allergy causes an anaphylactic response. Anaphylactic responses are life threatening and usually involve swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and dilated blood vessels. Someone having an anaphylactic response may have their throat close or tongue swell. They may get itchy. These are life-threatening situations.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. They can also cause vague symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, fatigue, aches, and allergies. And, food intolerances can take up to 3 days to show up where as a food allergy usually happens within minutes.

Most people know if they have a food allergy. They’ve eaten something and ended up in the emergency room. Not everyone knows that they have a food intolerance.

If you’re trying to optimize how your digestive system works or restore gut function, removing foods that your body reacts negatively is critical. That’s why it’s one piece of the first of the “5 R’s of Gut Restoration”.

How do you know if you have a food intolerance? Since the symptoms can be vague, it can be hard to figure out.

If you think you have a food intolerance, a common way to start figuring it out is with an elimination diet. There are quite a few out there. A popular one for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is FODMAPS. FODMAPS are Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Saccharides, And Polyols. These are foods that contain sugars (oligo-, di- and mono-saccharides) and sugar alcohols (polyols) that are fermented by the bacteria in your large intestine – your microbiome. The FODMAP diet was developed by a research group in Australia and has been proven through research to work well for treating those with IBS. However, there could bother foods that aren’t FODMAPS that you still react to. What then?

There are several ways to test for food intolerances. However, there is no “gold standard” for food intolerance testing. Some allergists use skin prick testing. And, there are several blood testing methods including ALCAT and LEAP. Each of these test different numbers of foods and additives and some even test medications. These can give you a starting point for what foods you react to and which foods are “safe”.

Another way to figure out if there are foods you are reacting to is to go on an elimination diet and log your food and symptoms. I recommend logging everything – food, drinks, supplements, medications as well as emotions and symptoms.  Then, playing detective with the log and figuring out what items may be suspect.

Next week, I’ll continue talking more about Removing What’s Bugging You. Because, there are quite a few things to think about Removing if you want to restore your gut or have a gut that functions optimally.

If you want to get the food log I use with my clients, you can do so here. If you want to learn more about food sensitivity testing, you use the “Contact” area on my website.

The Magical Microbiome – Updated

Panoramic shot rehearsal orchestra Odessa Philharmonic, Hobart Earl

Note: This was originally posted on July 9, 2015. Below is an update. Enjoy!

Our gut – specifically our large intestine – is full of microbes! About 5 pounds worth.

Oh no! What should we do? Shouldn’t we get rid of them? Aren’t microbes dangerous?

Actually, those microbes in your large intestine help you live a long, healthy life. Research on the gut is showing that many diseases – from physical to mental – may originate because of imbalances in the gut microbiome. The microbiome is the total of all of the microbes in your gut.

First, let’s start with some terminology so that we’re using the same terms. Probiotics are the actual good microbes in your gut. There are all sorts of advertisements on TV about probiotics from yogurts to pills. You want to “seed” your gut with these microbes using a variety of probiotic sources (more about this later).

Prebiotics are foods that feed the microbes. You can talk all the probiotics you want, but if you don’t feed the microbes, they’ll die off. What kind of food do your microbes need?  Typically, your microbes do well on foods that you can’t digest. That means fiber. Lots, and lots of fiber. Fiber isn’t just good for keeping you full and helping keep you bowels moving. They’re food for your microbiome! We want those little guys to work hard digesting all that fiber. What are good sources of prebiotics? Here’s a list of some of the best prebiotic-containing foods:

  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Bananas (greener ones are great)
  • Asparagus

Back to the Magical Microbiome . . . . We need a large variety of microbes in our gut to maintain our health. Think of your Magical Microbiome like a symphony. A symphony needs a lot of different instruments to sound right. If a symphony had 1 trumpet, 1 person on the triangle, and a bunch of flutes it wouldn’t sound right. If your microbiome doesn’t have a variety of microbes, your gut doesn’t function right. You may get gas, diarrhea, constipation, etc.

Ever wonder why you get constipated when you take antibiotics? It’s because the antibiotics kill off some or all of your microbiome.

How do you repopulate your microbiome or increase the diversity? If you’ve been on antibiotics and need to repopulate those guys quickly your best choice is a pill probiotic. Look for one that has a good mix of probiotics including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. There are multiple strains of each so it should have a mixture of them.

Once you have a base of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, then it’s time to start adding some other instruments to your symphony. You can switch up probiotics every month to get a variety of microbes. Or, even better, you can start including fermented foods in your diet. The classic fermented food is sauerkraut, but there are plenty of others. If you don’t think you like sauerkraut I’d suggest you give it a try if you haven’t eaten it recently. If you don’t want to make your own Bubbies is my preferred brand.  If you’re buying sauerkraut, you want to be sure it is raw and doesn’t contain any sugar. It should be in the refrigerated section and kept refrigerated at home. Other fermented foods include:

  • Yogurt
  • Skyr
  • Buttermilk
  • Aged cheeses
  • Kefir
  • Preserved lemoons
  • Sour or sweet pickles
  • Pickled beets
  • Kombucha
  • Water kefir
  • Sourdough bread
  • Salt-cured foods
  • Smoked foods
  • Dried foods (jerkey)


Remember – having a Magical Microbiome takes two steps:


  1.  Seed your gut with microbes – probiotics
  2. Feed your microbes with prebiotics

Keeping your Magical Microbiome healthy helps keep you healthy.

The Food Demolition Crew

Stomach Ache

Last week, I talked about how hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach helps break down your food. This week, I’m going to talk about digestive enzymes – the Food Demolition Crew.

Digestive enzymes break your food down into carbohydrates, proteins and fats so that you can then absorb them. Digestive enzymes start their job in your mouth and continue all the way through your small intestine.

Some people don’t produce enough digestive enzymes which means they don’t get the benefit of the food their eating. They body isn’t breaking down the food into the carbohydrate, protein, and fat molecules it can absorb. So, those things from the food don’t get absorbed and end up in the toilet.

Why might you not produce enough digestive enzymes? Here are some reasons:

  • Aging – As we get less young (remember I don’t like “old” or “older) our bodies may produce less digestive enzymes.
  • Problems with the pancreas or liver may reduce the amount of digestive enzymes that are produced.
  • Issues in the small intestine like Celiac disease can also reduce the amount of digestive enzyme production.
  • Inflammation in the digestive tract – often caused from food intolerances.
  • Bacteria living in the digestive tract where they aren’t supposed to be.
  • Stress may also play a role in digestive enzyme production.

How do you know if you aren’t producing enough digestive enzymes? The symptoms are similar to hypochlorhydira – not producing enough HCl in your stomach. Symptoms include:

  • Gas and bloating after meals
  • Stools that float
  • Feeling like you’ve got sand in your stomach
  • Feeling full after only a few bites of food

What do you do if you think you aren’t producing enough digestive enzymes? The best way is through stool testing. However, if that isn’t possible, you can add in some high quality digestive enzymes and see if you notice a difference in how you feel. I have some specific recommendations. If you’d like to find out more, just send me a quick note.

Logging your food can also help you figure out if low digestive enzymes could be the problem and, if so, which foods may be the culprit. Then, you can target the right digestive enzyme rather than taking a broad one.

If you want to track your food and symptoms, I’ve created a Symptom Log for Digestive Wellness based on my years with IBS and working with clients with digestive issues. I also created a series of videos to go along with the log to help you learn how to use it, figure out what may be triggering your symptoms, and other resources to get a happy and healthy gut. If you want the Symptom Log and other goodies, you can sign up to get it here.