When you swallow food, first it passes through the esophagus to the stomach. In the stomach hydrochloric acid and enzymes begin breaking the food down. Then your food passes into the small intestine where the majority of your food is absorbed. Peristalsis (a wave like contraction of the intestine) pushes the food downwards. After wards the remainder goes through a valve between your small intestine and the large intestine called the ileocecal valve and into the large intestine (colon), where mostly water is absorbed.
Normally we have lots of good bacteria in the large intestine. These bacteria perform several beneficial functions. And we usually have a smaller amount of good bacteria in our small intestine. However, a common condition occurs called Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. This is when, as it sounds, we have too much bacteria in our small intestine. This can occur because of several mechanisms: stress, a weakened immune system, low stomach (from antacid consumption and aging) and irregular peristalsis form stress or bad sleeping habits or dysfunction of the ileocecal valve. This overgrowth can cause digestive discomfort due to fermentation and gas formation, especially after eating sugars, fiber, certain probiotics and starches. This is the main cause of IBS.
Here are some common symptoms of SIBO:
Roughage and fiber cause constipation
Indigestion and fullness last 2-4 hours after eating
Pain, tenderness, soreness on left side under rib cage
Excessive passage of gas
Nausea and/or vomiting
Stool undigested, foul smelling, mucous like,
greasy, or poorly formed
Increased thirst and appetite
Getting SIBO under control is important, because it can impair the absorption of nutrients and lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome. This can cause immune system complications with wide ranging negative consequences. See my Leaky Gut page for more information. Fortunately, there are effective natural solutions for getting SIBO under control.