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Personalized Lifestyle Pearls: SIBO & The Connection to Sulfur

Clinical insights from Facebook Live event

Host: Deanna Minich, PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMCP

Guest: Bridget Briggs, MD

“Sulfur is part of our constitution.” – Dr. Deanna Minich

You may be familiar with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), but what about its critical connection to sulfur? Drs. Minich and Briggs explore the SIBO-sulfur link in this cutting edge discussion, where they use a root-cause, personalized lifestyle medicine approach to examine gut dysbiosis and SIBO symptomology.

Dr. Briggs shares valuable information on the clinical patterns related to sulfur metabolism in her patients with SIBO. She describes SIBO pathophysiology and the variety of symptoms and chronic health manifestations that can result. Clinical assessment tools exist (e.g. breath tests and advanced stool studies) that healthcare practitioners can leverage to pinpoint SIBO etiology and provide information on the bacterial overgrowth climate in the gut of the individual patient. Dr. Briggs describes the overarching gut microbiota imbalance she has observed in patients with SIBO, specifically a lack of Lactobacilli and an excess of sulfur-reducing bacteria.

Upstream causal factors are explored next. SIBO-predisposing contributors from the diet can include heavily processed foods, inadequate plant foods and phytonutrients, and undigested protein. You will learn about the critical importance of pH balance in the gut and stomach acid sufficiency and how widespread use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) has contributed to SIBO prevalence. Drs. Minich and Briggs concur that clinicians must: 1) address stomach acid first, and then 2) ensure healthy sulfur metabolism.

The impact of genotype (e.g. mutation in the cystathionine β-synthase [CBS] gene) on sulfur sensitivity and the critical conversion of sulfites to sulfates are deliberated next, along with the pleiotropic impact of sulfates in health, the connection to demineralization (specifically the essential trace mineral molybdenum), and the wide reaching impact of a sulfite:sulfate imbalance on histamine production, methylation, the hormonal milieu, butyric acid production in the gut, and much more.

Drs. Briggs and Minich wrap up their discussion by offering practical insights and recommendations regarding specific foods, differentiating plant vs. animal sources of sulfur, their preparation, and how targeted nutritional bioactives can be strategically integrated.

This Personalized Lifestyle Pearls broadcast took place live October 23, 2018 on the Metagenics Institute Facebook page.

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