If you’re experiencing digestive issues as well as low energy levels you could be dealing with either SIBO or Candida. There is a lot of confusion regarding which one is which. Both conditions can cause a lot of discomfort in your gut such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, as well as leaky gut.
They can also become a drain on your energy levels and tax your immune system so it’s important to figure out which one is plaguing you to choose the right course of action. While there is overlap, the two have some differences.
So, is it SIBO or Candida?
If you would like to get an idea of whether you have one or the other, I will be giving a bit of an overview of what each of these conditions is, their possible symptoms to help you figure out which one is causing you trouble, and point you in the right direction so that you can treat it effectively.
SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a condition where our good gut bacteria that are supposed to stay in the large intestine move into the small intestine where they don’t belong.
They could also get there via the food we eat if our stomach acid is insufficiently acid or is underproduced. If this is the case, taking a hydrochloric acid supplement can help you digest your food as well as kill the bacteria before it reaches your intestines.
Our gut contains trillions of bacteria that are vital to our health and well-being. The friendly bacteria in our gut microbiome aid us in digestion, the absorption of nutrients, vitamin and neurotransmitter production, and immune system functions.
So really, they are important to not only our physical health but our mental wellbeing.
These bacteria actually belong in the large intestine.
When bacteria set up shop in the small intestine instead of the colon, they chow down on the food you eat and create gas such as methane and hydrogen. If they are creating methane it’s more likely that you will have constipation, and if they are creating hydrogen you’re probably experiencing diarrhea. Diarrhea is much more common in SIBO than constipation.
I’ve written about SIBO in more detail here but I’ve included a list of possible symptoms:
- constipation (less common)
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- vitamin deficiencies
- feeling uncomfortably full after eating
- skin rashes
- food sensitivities
Candida is a type of SIFO or small intestinal fungal overgrowth. More specifically, Candida albicans is a yeast that we all need a little bit of in our mouths and intestines to help us digest food and absorb nutrients. The problems come in usually when our gut flora becomes imbalanced due to diet, lifestyle, medications, antibiotics, stress, or other factors. These conditions make our gut vulnerable to takeover.
When Candida starts growing out of control because it isn’t being held in check by a healthy microbiome, we can start to experience a variety of symptoms and it can cause leaky gut. Candida can do this by tearing holes in our one-cell thick gut lining letting larger food particles, proteins, toxins, and pathogens straight into the bloodstream. Our bodies then go into an immune response causing inflammation not only in our gut but in other parts of the body.
This is where Candida differs from SIBO considerably. Candida can move into your mouth causing a white tongue or thrush. It can also cause frequent urinary tract infections, itchy ears, skin and nail infections, eczema, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disorders.
This is why it’s so important to treat. It really becomes a full-body problem.
- dry/watery/itchy eyes
- itchy ears
- low mood/depression
- low energy/fatigue
- white tongue
- runny nose
- sugar and carb cravings
So, Is It SIBO Or Candida?
If you’re experiencing painful or noticeable bloating and feel uncomfortable after every meal and have diarrhea, it is more likely that you are experiencing SIBO. SIBO is also more likely to remain centered around digestive issues and abdominal pain, but you can also have fatigue because of vitamin deficiencies.
Candida can become a full-body problem as it spreads into other areas of the body.
If you are experiencing a white tongue that’s a sure sign on Candida. Acne also seems to go hand in hand with Candida but both conditions can cause skin problems.
If you find yourself a bit of a sugar and carb junkie and have extremely strong cravings for these foods it’s likely that it’s Candida.
Both of these conditions can cause leaky gut.
How to get rid of SIBO or Candida
It’s likely that if you have SIBO or Candida that you also have leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability. This means that things are leaking out of your intestines and into the bloodstream causing inflammation and immune response. I wrote an article explaining the 5 steps needed to help your gut heal.
For both SIBO and Candida, you’ll want to start with an elimination diet. This means removing foods from your diet that may be causing symptoms and further damage. The first foods you’ll need to remove are gluten and dairy. Depending on your specific body, food sensitivities, and the condition you have, there will be other foods to remove as well.
Keep these foods out of your diet for at least 2 weeks. You should begin to feel better after the second week. There are herbs and supplements to help you kill off the specific overgrowth you have. Diet alone will not completely solve the problem and it will only come back if you don’t kill them off.
I’ve had first-hand experience with Candida for years and it can be extremely persistent. I had success with keeping it under control by following Dr. Amy Myers’ 30-Day Candida Breakthrough program that I review in this article.
If you feel after reading this that you may have SIBO, Dr. Myers also has a SIBO protocol you can follow to heal this condition if you need more guidance. Following her Candida program was the only thing that worked for me after trying to heal on my own.
Please let me know if you have any questions and I’d love it if you shared what you think you are suffering from and anything that you’ve tried in the past. Do you think you have SIBO? Or is it Candida? Comment below and let me know if this article helped you figure it out!
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Thank you for the enlightening article. I think I have to really investigate what my challenge is between the two.For years I have had intestinal challenges though they recently got better after a radical change on my diet but I still know that, I am not where I am supposed to be with my gut health.I will check Dr Myers program for answers.
Good for you for taking charge of your health by changing your diet! Not many people are willing to change. Dr. Myers not only has great programs but she is an important resource and has helped many people. I’m glad I could point you her way. Thanks for commenting!