Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2018-07-09
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index
of WB Blog articles.
The fecalization of America
I’ve been lately discussing
the issue of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or
SIBO, a situation in which bowel microorganisms (especially
of the undesirable Enterobacteriaceae variety such as
E. coli and Shigella) ascend up from the
colon and colonize the ileum, jejunum, duodenum, and
stomach. This has numerous health implications that are
only beginning to be appreciated: irritable bowel
syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, psoriasis and other
skin rashes, restless leg syndrome, diverticular disease,
heightened body-wide inflammation, increased risk for
colon cancer—SIBO is either synonymous with these
conditions or at least a major contributor.
I was discussing these issues with
two radiologist friends recently who told me that, when
they review CT scans, they have been witnessing a
dramatic increase in a finding called fecalization.
Feces retained in the colon have a characteristic
appearance on CT scans (with oral contrast agent
given) and it should only appear in the colon. But they
have been seeing an increasing number of people with
fecalization appearing in the
small intestine where it should not be seen.
Small intestinal fecalization has a limited number of
causes, such as small bowel obstruction, which is an
emergency, exquisitely painful, and life-threatening.
But the majority of these people in which fecalization
is being observed are young (twenties and thirties)
and are not acutely ill, but have chronic abdominal
complaints such as urgency, diarrhea, and bloating.
Fecalization of the small bowel
is a sign that SIBO is present, i.e., fecal organisms
have ascended up the small intestine. The observations
of my two radiologist friends that the frequency of
fecalization is on the rise is consistent with the
explosion of SIBO nationwide. Because it is becoming
clear, for instance, that the majority, perhaps all,
the people with IBS also have SIBO, then that adds
around 30 million people to the list with SIBO.
Throw in fibromyalgia, autoimmune conditions, psoriasis,
etc. and the number of Americans with SIBO is likely
something like 60 million or more, an epidemic
on a par with overweight/obesity and type 2 diabetes.
What is driving this apparent
epidemic of fecalization/SIBO? This list of causes
is long and includes:
- Delivery by c-section, no or brief period of breastfeeding
- Antibiotic residues in dairy and meats
- Pesticide and herbicide residues in produce
- Bt toxin and glyphosate residues in genetically-modified foods
- Acid-suppressing drugs like Prilosec and Protonix. (There are probably plenty of other drugs that disrupt bowel flora, but this is almost never explored and documentation is not required for FDA approval.)
- Chlorinated/fluoridated drinking water
- Change in bowel flora that allow proliferation of undesirable species
- Synthetic sweeteners aspartame, sucralose, saccharine
- Emulsifying agents such as polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose
It also doesn’t help
that we have soaps and toiletries for every surface
and orifice and consume inadequate quantities of
lactate-fermented foods and prebiotic fibers.
Chronic diseases are on the
rise such that nearly half of all Americans now have
one, if not several, chronic diseases. While there are
many reasons for this trend (e.g., sugar consumption,
smoking, sedentary lifestyles, etc.), I believe that
the above factors that lead to SIBO are a big contributor.
As you’d expect, reversing SIBO and not allowing
yourself to be fecalized is associated with reversal or
improvement of many chronic health conditions. For
these reasons, SIBO is a hot topic of conversation in
our Undoctored Inner Circle and our Virtual
Meetups (two-way video meetings).