Sunday, May 25, 2014

Methane, Hydrogen, My Gut & Yours?

Every once in a while I get on a research thread and just can't stop myself! This affliction was made worse by the fact that I am currently incapacitated by another episode of diverticulitis.

Guess what? Methane production is not just for cattle anymore! It all started with this innocuous Fooducate post on higher levels of methane gas present in obese humans. The post was a little too terse so I started researching. I found a number of studies on a disorder called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Sydrome. (Links to several of these studies appear at the bottom of the post).

Interestingly, several of the causative factors for SIBO-- or at least "appearing alongside" actors -- apply to me. Issues of note were diverticulitis, intestinal adhesions, Fibromyalgia, (three things in my medical portfolio) and several things I don't suffer from like Chrone's Disease, Pancreatitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Let me state at the get-go that I have not been diagnosed with SIBO nor am I a medical professional of any sort. Nonetheless, I learned some interesting things that may help me in my dual quest to lose weight and reduce the frequency of my diverticulitis attacks.

The treatment for SIBO is two fold: Treat with a particular antibiotic, Rifaxin, and  make dietary changes until the issue is resolved. The next step in treatment is to slowly add back in the foods that had been held off to tolerance. Most of the literature agreed in the temporary restriction of these foods:

Lactose, sugars, and starches, such as:

High-fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, honey, apples, pears (Foods high in Fructose)
Milk and yogurt (hard cheeses will be okay)
Wheat, barley, rye, onions, garlic
Legumes (ironically I've been eating a lot of freeze-dried peas)
Sugar alcohols (common in gum and other "sugar free" foods)
Mushrooms, cauliflower, avocados, and stone fruits

In addition, a couple of studies (including the one sited in Fooducate) saw some correlation between obesity and SIBO. More studies need to be done on this possible link.

Finally, the small intestine has a "cleansing wave" every 90 to 120 minutes. Optimally, one needs to be not digesting food when this wave occurs. Therefore, people suffering from SIBO are instructed to space their meals 3 to 5 hours apart.  I have developed a habit of healthy snacking to prevent eating too much because by the time I eat, I'm starving. So I am going to go for 4 to 5 hours between meals and see if it helps.

Here's my thinking: there is no reason for me not to eliminate or severely restrict these foods right now to see if it helps. I can easily meet all my food needs through other sources and it seems like a good opportunity to get some relief.

Don't worry; I am going to run it all by my internist when I see him or her (I have two!) early in the week. I will ask about the possibility of SIBO and if Rifaxin could be an effective treatment for diverticulitis so we can get two for one!

It's food for thought. I'm putting it out here in case it rings a bell for someone else. Happy Memorial Day.

Links to studies:

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