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Josh’s Story: Surviving SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)

My name is Josh and I am a fellow IBS-SIBO Survivor. Like a lot of people I’ve struggled with the digestive disease throughout my life. I’ve been at a point where it was hard seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I have managed being a college baseball player, moving across the country, and graduating from college. By no means was this easy and I could have given up. Learning to treat and manage SIBO was a struggle and I often found myself lonely and in a dark state of mind trying anything to feel better. I understand the silent suffering that people with this condition experience.

My story started a number of years ago when I came down with nasty digestive symptoms while in college. I recall a bad episode of food poisoning which may have helped trigger the condition. It was most likely a combination of genetics, altered gut flora, and food poisoning which contributed to the disease. It’s very difficult to pinpoint the exact causes. Anyway, I began to have the typical symptoms like gas/bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, and the feeling of being infected. These symptoms were very severe, and like most people, I tried everything possible to feel better. It was devastating, especially as a younger kid in college.

I’ve struggled to keep relationships, skipped classes, had gut attacks in the worst places like on a plane or at an important event. I’ve been through periods of depression. There was a time period where I ate nothing but chicken and carrots for 3 months straight and turned orange! I had to self-teach myself to get through college and had a hard time sitting through a full class. It was definitely not easy.

Getting sick also ended my childhood dream of becoming a pro baseball player. I know what it feels like to have your confidence and hope stripped out from under you. I have found it fascinating how your gut affects your mood, energy, brain function, and much more. Going from a strong college baseball player to someone who lost 20 pounds and sat on the bench because his strength was zapped was tough.

Since coming down with the condition I have seen numerous top doctors, tried many treatment options both natural and pharmaceutical, and have experimented with many different remedies. I have found that sticking to a low-fodmap diet, doing an occasional elemental diet or antibiotic treatment, drinking herbal tea, managing stress, and living a healthy lifestyle with light exercise has been the most impactful. I learned that the types of carbohydrates I eat and the amounts matter. Personally, I have to stay away from high fodmap foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, and garlic. I have found I can’t tolerate much fruit because the fructose causes my symptoms to act up. Overall, I stick to a whole food low-fodmap diet and also incorporate natural and pharmaceutical medicine which have helped me heal.

Through education, great doctors, and my own study and experimentation I have improved to the point where I can enjoy life a lot more than before! I am able to work a full-time job, socialize with friends more often, and begin to dream of living an extraordinary life again. At my lowest points it was hard to imagine getting better since it seemed like nothing was helping my body heal but I have come a long way! I also enjoy attending the live webinars on SIBO and IBS to stay up to date on the latest research. The GI Motility team at Cedars Sinai Medical Center has been doing a lot of great work in the space.

I definitely still struggle at times but I am able to manage my symptoms much more effectively than in the past through a low-fodmap diet, medication, and occasional treatment. I have learned a lot since getting sick and it has helped shape me into a different person which I’m thankful for. I believe there is always hope and look forward to new treatments and discoveries for IBS-SIBO sufferers in the future. I encourage anyone going through something similar not to give up. Find doctors who truly care and continue to do everything you can to get better. Remember that improving takes time and there is hope.

To share more about my story and everything that I’ve learned on my journey I created SIBOSurvivor.com where I plan to create some awesome content and products for the community like my SIBO Recipe Book.  I would love it if you checked it out! Thanks for reading my story.

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