The Potato Hack - A Simple Weight Loss Diet - Dominick Hussey

The Potato Hack – A Simple Weight Loss Diet

I have been treating patients for over a two decades. One of the most challenging conditions to treat is weight loss. Of course, this depends on from where the patient is starting. If they are eating lots of junk food, not exercising, and not sleeping well, weight loss can be pretty straightforward. But if they are already doing all the right things but still not losing weight, it can be tough. In this article, I am going to talk about one of my secret weapons when it comes to losing weight; the potato hack simple weight loss diet.

The Potato Hack Simple Weight Loss Diet

The potato diet has been around since the 1800s as a weight loss approach.

For example, this is a quote from a book called The Potato Diet written in 1849.

“Few are aware of the great value of the potato as an article of diet. It may astonish some of our readers when we assert that potatoes alone are sufficient to sustain the human body in a state of firm and vigorous health. Lean men grow fat, and fat men become lean, lean as they ought to be and so all grow better in health.”

Even though this diet has been around since the 1800s, it was only recently resurrected and popularised by people like Tim Steele in his book The Potato Hack.

Why is the potato hack diet so effective for weight loss?

There are a few reasons why the potato hack diet effective for weight loss.

  1. Several studies show low-calorie, low-fat, high-carb diets can be useful for treating diabetes.
  2. You can modify the potato hack weight loss diet so that the person is only eating potatoes that have been cooked and cooled. This process converts much of the starch in the potatoes to resistant starch. Resistant starch is a type of fibre, which is not digested by humans. Our friendly bacteria consume fibre, so it has a positive impact on blood sugar.
  3. The potato hack diet spontaneously decreases calorie intake, which is one of the reasons it leads to such significant weight loss. Weight loss is one of the fastest and most efficient ways of reducing blood sugar when a patient is overweight.
  4. The potato hack diet reduces inflammation and improves the gut microbiota. Both of those can indirectly or directly improve blood sugar.

How does the potato hack diet work?

The food reward concept

Many of you are familiar with the idea of food reward, which is where the more rewarding foods are, the more likely we are to eat them. The food reward concept is a hardwired evolutionary mechanism that helped us survive in a natural environment of food scarcity.

One of the things that contribute to the reward value of food is variety.

The more different flavours, taste, and macronutrients there are in a particular meal, the more likely we are to eat it and to eat more of it.

The easiest way to think about this is to imagine two plates next to each other.  One plate has potatoes that have been steamed or baked with no salt or oil. The other dish has potato chips.

I am reasonably sure that most of us will not overeat the plain steamed or boiled potatoes. We will eat as much as we need to satisfy our appetite but no more.

Whereas, we are more likely to overeat the potato chips even if we are not hungry.

This example demonstrates the concept of food reward and one of the reasons that the Potato Hack diet works so well.

The diet reduces the reward value and leads to a calorie reduction.

Resistant Starch

Another reason why the potato hack diet works is that potatoes that have been cooked and cooled are high in resistant starch, as I mentioned before.

Resistant starch feeds our gut bacteria, and this has a profound impact on slowing down our metabolism.

As a side note, you can use the potato diet as an excellent way to reset your gut. For people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, doing a Potato Hack diet for three to five days can help them get back on track.

Basic rules for following the potato hack simple weight loss diet

The following guidelines are from Tim Steele’s book, The Potato Hack, which I highly recommend if you’re interested in this as a strategy.

  1. Eat nothing but white potatoes for three to five days.
  2. While doing the potato hack simple weight loss diet, you should test your blood sugar with a glucometer after the first few potato meals. If there is a spike in blood sugar, switch from cooked to cooked and cooled potatoes.
  3. The diet only works with white potatoes and not sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes do not form resistant starch in the way that white potatoes do.
  4. Eat two to five pounds of potatoes each day. You should eat enough to satisfy your hunger. You do not need to count calories or potatoes while you’re doing this diet.
  5. No other foods are allowed on the potatoes. So no butter, no sour cream, no cheese, and no bacon bits.
  6. You allowed a little salt, but it is discouraged.
  7. Drink when thirsty. Coffee, tea, and water only.
  8. Light exercise such as walking, yoga, gentle cycling, and swimming only.

A variation of the potato hack diet is called “Potatoes By Day.” During the Potatoes by day diet, you follow the potato diet from dawn to dusk, and then you eat a typical dinner.

Contraindications to doing the diet

If you are considering trying the potato hack diet then it is essential to think about the following contraindications:

  1. Do not try the diet if you are very sensitive to nightshade vegetables.
  2. Do not try the diet if you experience blood sugar spikes even with cooked and cooled potatoes.
  3. Do not try the diet if you can not tolerate a lot of starch or resistant starch. For example, people with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth do not do well eating a lot of starch or resistant starch.

Further guidelines and considerations

  1. The potato diet is suitable when other diet strategies have failed. In my experience, a paleo style wholefoods diet is beneficial for weight loss, and it is more sustainable over the long term.
  2. If you do the Potato Hack Simple Weight Loss Diet for any significant length of time, taking a high-quality multivitamin is a good idea.
  3. You should personalise the diet to your lifestyle to make it more sustainable. In some cases, doing a Potato Hack diet for one or two days a week or just doing the Potatoes By Day strategy will be a better fit. This approach will be advisable if you have a family and busy life.
  4. You will usually lose a half a pound to a pound of weight loss per full day of the potato hack. Based on this information you can roughly calculate how many days you need to be doing the diet.


The Potato Hack Simple Weight Loss Diet is an affordable, and handy advanced tool for weight loss. The diet can work when everything else has failed, and because cooked and cooled potatoes have lots of resistant starch, it’s often safe even for people with blood sugar issues.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Mold Toxicity Symptoms, Diagnosis and Natural Treatment - Dominick Hussey

Mold Toxicity Symptoms, Diagnosis and Natural Treatment

The awareness of mold toxicity and it’s effect on human health has increased dramatically over the past few years. Estimates predict that indoor air pollutants, including mold, may be contributing to more than 50% of people’s illnesses.

You will find the most common types of mold indoors, which include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys chartarum sometimes referred to as “toxic black mold”, grows on household surfaces such as wood, fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint.

Read on to learn more about the typical symptoms of mold toxicity, diagnosis and testing and a simple but an effective natural treatment approach.

3 Most Common Symptoms of Mold Toxicity

Mold toxicity can cause a multitude of different symptoms. Three however common symptoms are almost always present.

  1. Fatigue – by far the number one symptom.
  2. Cognition issues including memory, word finding and calculation difficulties.
  3. Breathing issues including chronic sinus congestion, shortness of breath, breathing difficulty with exercise, sinus nasal drainage, and wheezing. The wheezing looks like asthma, but it doesn’t respond to the typical treatment of inhalers.

Other symptoms of mold toxicity may include:

  • Musculoskeletal symptoms including muscle weakness, achiness, joint pain, and morning stiffness.
  • Urinary symptoms including urinary incontinence, increased thirst, and electrolyte abnormalities leading to muscle cramps.
  • Neurological symptoms including numbness, tingling, and unusual skin sensation where one side of the face becomes numb or even paralysed.
  • Digestive problems including loose stools.
  • Vision issues including red eyes and blurry vision. Sometimes, patients will have night sweats.
  • General symptoms might include sudden appetite swings, body temperature changes, and weight gain, especially in women.

Mold toxicity can produce some unusual symptoms including:

  • Ice pick pain – A sharp, stabbing pain that can be anywhere in the body, but it’s frequently in the head. A headache that feels like being stuck with an ice pick.
  • Static shocks
  • People with mold toxicity often complain about the watches they wear stop working for no apparent reason.

How To Diagnose Mold Toxicity

Like any disease, you can diagnose mold toxicity from a combination of presenting symptoms, good case history and testing.

If you suspect you may have mold toxicity, then some fundamental questions may give you clues that mold might be a problem.

  • Do you live in a moldy house?
  • Do you live in a building that has had water intrusion, damp basement, or musty smells?”
  • Do you get condensation on the windows?
  • Does your house have a flat roof?
  • Did you develop this illness after a move to a new location or got a new job?
  • Do you feel better when you’re on vacation?
  • Do you smell a musty odour anywhere in your house or place of work?

Testing For Mold Toxicity

When investigating mold toxicity, there are two types of testing you should consider, environmental and lab testing.

For environmental testing of your home or workplace, you can do a formal test with a mold inspector. Alternatively, you can do a DIY home test called an EMRI. You can order the EMRI test on This test looks for the DNA of mold in the house dust.

Lab testing

When testing for mold toxicity, it is not necessary to spend many thousands of dollars on lab testing. Rather the cost of testing should be below $1000. Below are a couple of the lab markers, that you should consider when looking for mold toxicity.

  1. HLA-DR typing, gene testing that will tell you if you are within 24% of the population that is genetically susceptible to mold toxicity.
  2. TGF-beta, a marker of an overactive immune system.

A combination of the above testing is available through a direct patient lab called Life Extension.

A 3 Step Natural Treatment Plan For Mold Toxicity

1. Get out of exposure

If you have come to the firm conclusion that you have mold toxicity, then you should remove yourself from the mold exposure environment. If you try any treatment and you are still in a moldy environment, the therapy will not help.

By removing yourself from the environment, there is a good chance you will begin to feel better. If you do not feel better this does not mean that mold is not the problem. A small percentage people with mold issues still feel unwell after removing themselves from the source of the exposure. These people have a condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). People with CIRS often have the genes that make them highly susceptible to mold exposure. Research has shown that 24% of the population have some risk to mold exposure while 4% have a very high risk.

2. Identify and remove the mold from your environment

Once you have removed yourself from the environment, the next step is to identify and remove the mold from your home or workplace. If you can remove the mold, this may be all you need to do to feel better. Again any improvement will be closely associated with your genetics. The worse your genes, the less chance you will feel better from just removing the mold.

3. Remove the mold from the body

The next step is to begin the process of removing the mold from your body. One of the main ways you can detox your body from the mold is through the use of bile sequestrants.

How acid sequestrants work

When the body is exposed to toxins, it detoxifies them through the liver and then secretes them into the bile where they go out via the stool. In some people with mold toxicity bile is reabsorbed back into the body. Bile acid sequestrants are compounds that bind to bile acids, stopping reabsorption and allowing them to pass out of the body in the stool.

There are two types of bile acid sequestrants, prescription and natural compounds.

Prescription Bile Sequestrants

The bile prescription sequestrants that have been studied the most are Cholestyramine powder and Welchol.

The recommended dosage for Cholestyramine powder is 4 grams, four times a day, an hour before a meal or supplements or two hours after.

Welchol is taken once or twice a day. Welchol is not as efficient and is more expensive then Cholestyramine powder.

For best results when I recommend combining the prescription binders with clay, charcoal, chlorella, and glucomannan.

Natural Bile Sequestrants and binders

Warning: People with severe intractable diarrhea cannot tolerate bile sequestrants.

Tracking treatment progress

An easy way to monitor the effectiveness of treatment is to use a visual contrast study (VAS) that can be done in the office or online. A VAS detects retinal changes to capillary hypoxia. If the test is abnormal, it is likely that there has been a toxic exposure.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Biofilms - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Dominick Hussey

Biofilms – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Biofilms are protective coatings that bacteria and fungus form to protect themselves from antibiotics and herbal treatment. Biofilms may be at the root of infections that won’t go away like Candida, fungus, H. pylori and SIBO.

Read on to learn more about biofilms, why they turn bad, how to tell if they are affecting you, common infections associated with biofilms, testing and how to treat biofilms.

What are Biofilms?

Biofilms exist pretty much anywhere there are microbes and moisture. Therefore, you can find them at the bottom of the ocean. You encounter them in the mucous membranes of any animal which includes their digestive tract, lungs or even in blood vessels.

Not all biofilms are bad. In the digestive tract of humans, the friendly bacteria use biofilms to protect themselves. So some play a part in us staying healthy. So we do not want to get rid of all biofilms.

When Biofilms go from Good to Bad to Ugly

You can illustrate the different biofilms by visualising a spectrum in front of you. Going from left to right, on the left you have good biofilms and on the right the bad biofilms.

The majority of biofilms begin as good or healthy. A useful way to imagine biofilms is to use an analogy of a fence. Good biofilms are like a garden fence that keeps the healthy bacteria in and any other unwanted intruders out.

As biofilms begin to become worse, then the fence becomes higher, and it starts to hold on to unfriendly bacteria.

At this stage, biofilms are known as early phase or phase type 1 biofilms. These are unhealthy but relatively easy to eradicate.

As you become sick and rundown and you lose your good bacteria, or they get rundown, the fence becomes more like a cage. Researchers liken this to a hive community, where you can have bad bacteria, viruses, parasites, protozoans, as well as friendly bacteria.

How to Tell if Biofilms are affecting you?

According to Dr, there are some broad indicators that may suggest biofilms are playing a role in your health.

  1. If you have a lab diagnosed pathogen such as H Pylori that has been unresponsive to a standard treatment protocol. That is usually a sign that there’s biofilm protecting a pathogen.
  2. If you have been chronically sick for than a year or two.

Infections Commonly Associated With Biofilms

Certain infections are most prone to formation of biofilm including:

  1. H. pylori, probably the most well known.
  2. Pseudomonas family, which can cause persistent lung infections and death from pneumonia.
  3. Gram-negative type bacteria like the E. coli
  4. Lyme and coinfections
  5. Parasitic infections such as Blastocystis hominis
  6. Methane Producers such as archea found in SIBO
  7. Candida

How to Test for Biofilms

There is currently no easy way to test for biofilms. You can look for them through biopsy, but this is not practical or cost effective.

Diagnosis is mainly based on empirical evidence from signs and symptoms.

Treatment of Biofilms

Dietary Treatment

In most traditional diets, there are anti-biofilm things that are either part of the food or part of the additives to the food such as:

  • Turmeric
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary

Natural Treatments

There are a number of different natural compounds or biofilm disruptors that have been found to be effective for treating biofilms.

Weak Natural Biofilm Disruptors
  • Oils including Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary
  • Herbs including Curcumin and Olive leaf
Moderate to Strong Natural Biofilm Disruptors
  • Black cumin
  • Thiols like n-acetylcysteine and alpha-lipoic acid is also a thiol which can have that effect.
  • DMSA or DMPS
  • Bismuth
Strong Natural Biofilm Disruptors

Any natural biofilm disruptor stronger than those above are new molecules that have been developed from individual natural compounds. Examples of popular strong natural biofilm disruptor include:

Prescription Treatments

There is currently no scientifically validated prescription drugs to that treat biofilms.

How To Know If Treatment Is Working

When using biofilm disruptors it reasonable for you to experience some acute die off symptoms. This is a good sign that the treatment is working. Biofilm disruptors open up biofilms and make your immune system aware of the pathogens inside. When this happens, you get a very aggressive immune response which can not only be uncomfortable but scary.

Although every case is different, symptoms usually resolve between one and six weeks

Die-off versus Intolerance symptoms

Intolerance symptoms occur when you react to something in the supplement or drug. People tend to react to more sulphur containing compounds such as NAC, ALA or DMPS.

Typical intolerance reactions include flushing of the skin, itching, rashes and headaches.

Die off symptoms tend to be stronger and more global than from intolerances. Die off symptoms may include multiple painful joints or whole body muscle pains.

Ways to counter Die-off symptoms

Die off symptoms can be very unpleasant. There are however some useful strategies to help manage these symptoms.

  1. Over-the-counter antihistamine medications
  2. High amounts of adrenal support supplementation
  3. Sauna can be very helpful
  4. Drinking lots of water

If you want to learn more about biofilms, I recommend the following article, Biofilms: What Have We Learned from the Research?written by Dr Paul Anderson.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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MCAS - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment - Dominick Hussey

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) is a type of mast cell activation disorder (MCAD).

MCAD is the term for describing the whole spectrum of diseases of the mast cell.

There are two main types of primary mast cell diseases including:

  1. Mastocytosis – A rare mast cell activation disorder caused by the presence of too many mast cells and mast cell precursors. People affected by mastocytosis are susceptible to itching, hives, and anaphylactic shock, caused by the release of histamine from mast cells.
  2. Allergic-type phenomena –  Like allergies, urticaria, angioedema, and anaphylaxis.

There is a third type of MCAS where we observe inappropriate activation of the mast cells, where we cannot describe it as either Mastocytosis or an allergic-type phenomenon. We label this type of MCAD under the MCAS banner.

Read on to learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, causes, testing and treatment of MCAS.

What are the typical symptoms and systems affected by MCAS?

MCAS may affect virtually any system in the body. So by definition, MCAS may cause a multitude of different symptoms.

Neurological System

Neurologically, you may see symptoms of fatigue and cognitive dysfunction that a lot of people describe as “brain fog.”

There may be a motor and sensory neurologic issues.

And if the central nervous system is affected, there could be psychiatric issues including anxiety and depression.

Cardiovascular system

MCAS may affect the cardiovascular system with all sorts of autonomic related issues including:

  • Variability in pulse and blood pressure
  • Palpitations or Tachycardia or increased heart rate

Musculoskeletal system

MCAS may cause a lot of muscle pain, which is diffusely migratory. There may also be bone issues including osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Gastrointestinal (GI) System

MCAS can cause all sorts of issues in the GI tract including acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.

The Skin

We find mast cells predominantly at environmental interfaces on the outside of the body where they’re best positioned to serve out their principal role and defence. As such we see many skin issues with MCAS including rashes as well as nail and hair problems.

When you think about the biology of this, where do mast cells reside in the body? Well, there are present in every vascularized tissue, but they dominantly site themselves at the environmental interfaces and also perivascular sites. So that’s

Respiratory System

The lungs are another example of an environmental interface found in the body. As such, patients with MCAS can describe intermittent problems with shortness of breath, and sometimes wheezing.

Genitourinary (GU) System

The GU tract is another environmental interface. So MCAS patients may experience irritation and pain in the urinary tract.

Immune System

MCAS can reduce the function of the Immune system so leading to a wide range of possible consequences, including:

  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Increased difficulty with healing from infections and wounds
  • Increased risk for malignancies
  • Increased risk for autoimmune disease

We could go on to the other systems in the body, but I think you get the point that it’s just a bewilderingly vast array of potential symptoms.

Diagnosis of MCAS

The sheer number of different symptoms and the fact that each person can have different symptom picture makes diagnosing MCAS extremely difficult.

According to MCAS expert Dr Lawrence Afrin, most patients who are ultimately found to have MCAS have been searching for help with their symptoms for a very long time, typically for decades.

Cause of MCAS

At present, there are no scientifically validated cause for MCAS only possible theories.

One theory originates from researchers at the University of Bonn Germany. They suggest that MCAS patients may have mutations in the controlling elements of the mast cells. This opinion has not yet been verified so we more research to understand the cause better.

Testing for MCAS

Currently, there is no single reliable laboratory test available for the diagnosis of MCAS. There are some tests available that collectively give a good indication of MCAS.

  • Serum Tryptase – Measuring tryptase levels in the serum can be very helpful in diagnosing mastocytosis. We usually see tryptase levels elevated at least double the upper limit of normal and quite often much higher than that in mastocytosis. However, in MCAS, tryptase is usually normal. Or if it is elevated, it’s just very slightly raised. So it is undoubtedly a good idea to check a serum tryptase when looking for MCAS.
  • Serum Chromogranin A – Chromogranin A (CgA) is a protein released from neuroendocrine cells. These are cells that secrete hormones in response to signals from the nervous system. When measuring serum CgA, you must rule out that the patient does not have heart or renal failure, has not taken proton Pump Inhibitors in the last three days and does not have neuroendocrine cancer. If you have ruled out all the above, then an elevated CgA level is a good indication of MCAS.
  • Plasma and Urine Prostaglandin D2 – Prostaglandin D2 is a significant prostaglandin produced by mast cells.
  • Plasma heparin – Heparin is a compound occurring in the liver and other tissues that inhibits blood coagulation. According to Dr Lawrence, Afrin plasma heparin is a helpful, sensitive and specific test for MCAS.
  • 2,3-Dinor-11beta-prostaglandin F2 alpha – 2,3-Dinor-11beta-prostaglandin F2 alpha is a metabolite of prostaglandin D2.
  • Urine Histamine
  • Urine N-methylhistamine
  • Urine Leukotriene E4

Treatment of MCAS

Because of the complicated nature of MCAS, I recommend a simple step by step approach to treatment.

Step one: Identify and avoid the triggers

Before looking for the underlying cause of MCAS, it is vital to reduce any symptoms. The first part of this is to identify and withdraw any triggers. Typical triggers include high histamine foods so following a low histamine elimination diet is useful. A low Fodmap diet may also be worth trying as it has been shown to lower histamine levels in the body. For my clients, I tend to start with the low Fodmap diet. If symptoms do not reduce to a manageable level, then we try a low fodmap low histamine diet.

Step two: Identify an optimal antihistamine regimen

The second part of controlling symptoms is to find an optimal antihistamine regimen. There are two types of antihistamines you can try, medications and supplements.


If symptoms are severe, it may be necessary to use antihistamine medications. There are two types of antihistamine medications, H1 and H2 blockers.

H1 Blockers

H1 antagonists, also called H1 blockers, are a class of medications that block the action of histamine at the H1 receptor, helping to relieve allergic reactions. There are two types of H1 blockers, sedating and non-sedating. Since fatigue is such a common symptom in MCAS, it is better to use a non-sedating kind of H1 blocker. Examples of non-sedating H1 blockers include Allegra and Claritin.

H2 Blockers

H2 antagonists, sometimes referred to as H2RA and also called H2 blockers, are a class of medications that block the action of histamine at the histamine H2 receptors of the parietal cells in the stomach. They are typically used to reduce the production of acid in the stomach. Examples of H2 Blockers include Pepcid and Zantac.

When treating MCAS, you will often need a combination of an H1 and H2 blocker. There is no easy way to find the right combination except through a patient step by step trial and error approach. At this point, I would highly recommend you try this under the supervision of your doctor or trusted healthcare practitioner.

Natural Antihistamines

Natural antihistamines that have been shown to reduce histamine levels in the body include:

Step Three: Identifying and treating the cause

As I mentioned above, there is no known cause fore MCAS only theories.

In my clinical practice, I see a strong association between the presence of SIBO and excess histamine. This observation may explain why a low fodmap diet can be a useful tool for reducing a high histamine body load and reducing symptoms.

Regarding cause, I see some parallels with MCAS and true Fibromyalgia. Research has shown a possible link between fibromyalgia and childhood trauma. There has also been some research looking at an association between histamine and stress.

Based on the above observations I suggest a two-step approach for looking at the underlying cause of MCAS.

Step One – Looking for Infections

Assuming that we have already removed any food triggers from the diet then the next step would be to look for any gut infections in particular SIBO. You can do this by using a Lactulose Breath Test.

Step Two – Identifying and Resolving any Past Emotional Traumas

There are some treatment modalities that I recommend and may help with past emotional trauma, some are scientifically validated and some not.



Energy Healing


Mindfulness Training


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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5 Complications of SIBO - Dominick Hussey - Functional Medicine

5 Complications of SIBO

You will not die from SIBO, but it does lead to various complications. The main complications of SIBO include:

  • Nutrient Deficiency and Excess
  • Malabsorption
  • Increased Small Intestinal Permeability
  • Autoimmunity
  • Blunted Small Intestinal Villi

Read on to learn about the complications of SIBO occur in the body.

Vitamin B12  Deficiency

SIBO is known to cause a B12 deficiency in the scientific literature. Vitamin B12 deficiency happens in SIBO as a result of utilisation of the vitamin by bacteria. When bacteria take up the vitamin, the bacteria partly metabolise it to inactive analogues, which compete with normal vitamin B12 binding and absorption.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency may include things like neuropathy, cognitive decline, or even dementia.

There is a high prevalence of SIBO in the elderly. This fact could make you question whether the B12 deficiency seen in the elderly is related to SIBO and not just “ageing.”

Fat Malabsorption

SIBO can also cause fat malabsorption, which leads to a buildup of free bile acids. A build-up of bile leads to mucosal inflammation can lead to increased intestinal permeability. Increased intestinal permeability aka leaky gut can lead to autoimmunity.

Fat malabsorption can also lead to a decline in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamin including:

  • Vitamin D and K2 which will cause osteoporosis
  • Vitamin A which will cause night blindness and retinopathy
  • Vitamin K leading to prolonged clotting times

Stunted Small Intestinal Villi

SIBO can lead to blunted small intestinal villi that will decrease the activity of disaccharides. Disaccharides are enzymes that are required to break down carbohydrate.

A reduction in disaccharide activity will lead to carbohydrate malabsorption. Carbohydrate malabsorption will lead to a build-up of carbohydrates in the small intestine. The bacteria in the small bowels feed on carbohydrates.

So blunted intestinal villi will lead to increase the number of bacteria so worsening the SIBO.

Protein Malabsorption

Bacteria digest protein. When you have too much bacteria in the upper part of the small intestine, where the protein is absorbed, then that will interfere with your absorption of protein.

Excess Folate

While B12 deficiency is prevalent with SIBO, folate levels can often be high in SIBO because of increased synthesis of folate by small intestine bacteria.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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3 Primary Causes of SIBO - Dominick Hussey

3 Primary Causes of SIBO

The causes of SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and how it develops is not entirely clear, and it’s still somewhat debatable. SIBO begin when there is a disruption in the mechanisms that control the number of bacteria that live in the small intestine. There are at least seven risk factors that are potential causes for that disruption.

  • Structural or anatomic issues, for example, after surgery, if there was damage to nerves that enervate the small intestine, or patients with Cystic Fibrosis
  • Motility disorders, so dysfunction of the migrating motor complex
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Metabolic diseases like diabetes
  • Low stomach acid
  • Age
  • Organ system dysfunction
  • Medications

The 3 Primary Causes of SIBO

According to Chris Kresser, Functional Medicine and SIBO expert, three primary processes cause SIBO:

  • Low gastric acid secretion
  • Small intestine dysmotility
  • Disrupted microbiota

Low gastric acid secretion

Stomach acid suppresses the growth of ingested bacteria, which would limit bacteria in the upper small intestine. For this reason, hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, is a primary risk factor for SIBO.

Low stomach acid can develop:

  • When H. pylori bacteria are present
  • With chronic stress
  • As a consequence of ageing

There are also drugs that inhibit acid secretion, like histamine type 2 receptor blockers, and Proton Pump Inhibitors, both of which are used to treat heartburn and GERD.

If a person has heartburn and they take these acid-suppressing drugs for a significant period, it reduces stomach acid it may predispose them to develop SIBO.

Small intestine dysmotility

The next primary of the causes of SIBO is impaired intestinal motility or dysfunction of the migrating motor complex (MMC). The MMC sweeps residual debris through the gastrointestinal tract so abnormalities in the MMC may predispose to the development of SIBO.

Disrupted microbiota

The third of the primary causes of SIBO is a disrupted gut microbiome, but there is less research on this proving a direct cause. There are however several lines of evidence that support an association.

One is that it’s well-established that antibiotic use can lead to disrupted gut microbiome and in turn SIBO.

Celiac disease also leads to a disrupted gut microbiome, and there’s a definite connection between celiac and SIBO.

Disrupted gut microbiome has been shown to cause dysfunction of the ileocecal valve, and we know that dysfunction of the ileocecal valve can lead to translocation of bacteria that should stay in the large intestine into the small intestine, which is one of the principal ways that SIBO develops.



This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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What is the Correct Definition of SIBO - dominick Husey

What is the Correct Definition of SIBO?

There are several different definitions of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Part of the challenge of dealing with it is that there isn’t even really a consensus on how to define it. On the simplest level, it indicates the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine. But what is the correct definition of SIBO?

In this article, I discuss the different ways parameters or measures scientists have explored (at the time of writing) to find a correct definition of SIBO.

The Number of Bacteria

A more specific definition of SIBO is where the number of bacteria in the small intestine exceeding 105 to 106 organisms per millilitre. Usually, there should be less than 103 organisms per millilitre found in the upper small intestine, and the majority would be gram-positive. But this specific definition of SIBO relies on endoscopy, which is one of the two test methods used to detect SIBO, but it’s the least frequently used. In fact, I can not think of any Functional Medicine practitioner, that is using endoscopy to diagnose SIBO, so it’s not that helpful of a definition for our practical perspective.

The Type of Bacteria

In addition to the absolute number of bacteria in the small intestine, the type of flora also plays a role in the signs and symptoms of SIBO. The predominant bacteria metabolize bile salts to unconjugated or insoluble compounds, and that can cause fat malabsorption or bile acid diarrhea.

Microorganisms that preferentially metabolize carbohydrates to short-chain fatty acids in a gas can cause bloating without diarrhea. Whereas gram-negative bacteria that are overgrown in the small intestine like Klebsiella can produce toxins that damage the mucosa and interfere with nutrient absorption.

This explains why people with SIBO can have such a wide range of symptoms. It depends on which type of bacteria is overgrown in the small intestine. Again using the type of bacteria found in the small intestine to define SIBO relies on endoscopy.

Measuring Gases

The two main ways of testing for SIBO is through an endoscopy of the small intestine and a lactulose breath test. As mentioned above the former method is not practical. The breath test measures the quantity of hydrogen of methane produced in the small intestine. This method is relatively straightforward but there is no consensus on how to interpret the results. This lack of consensus makes it difficult to establish a firm definition based on the results of a breath test.


So what does this mean? There are three possible measures you could use to define SIBO: the number of bacteria, the type of bacteria and the gases produced in the small intestine. Using any of these measures to establish a correct definition is made difficult because of the limitation of the two main testing measures. It is my observation that currently, the majority of Functional Medicine practitioners (including myself) use the more practical breath test results to diagnose SIBO.



This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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3 Overlooked Causes of GERD - Dominick Hussey - Functional Medicine

3 Overlooked Causes of GERD

According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, 13% of Canadians suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). This figure may be much higher because of the vast majority of people that experience GERD self-medicate. But what are the causes of GERD? Read on to learn more about this common disease and three overlooked causes of GERD.

What is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?

GERD is when the contents of the stomach go up the oesophagus and into the throat.  The symptoms of acid reflux include:

  • Acidic taste in the mouth
  • Burning pain in the chest
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • A chronic cough
  • Chronic laryngitis
  • Erosion of the teeth in longstanding issues

It is important not to ignore GERD as it may lead to chronic inflammation of the esophagus (Barrats Esophagitis) and even esophageal cancer.

What are the medical causes of GERD?

Medical textbooks describe the cause of GERD as a dysfunction of the lower esophagal sphincter that usually prevents the stomach acid from travelling from the stomach and up to the esophagus.

The medical treatment for sphincter dysfunction is surgery known as a Fundoplication. Surgeons wrap the upper part of the stomach around the lower part of the esophageal sphincter.

Like medication, the use of surgery is trying to treat symptoms and is not resolving the underlying causes of GERD.

What are Underlying Causes of GERD?

When looking for the cause of any health issue, it is best to take a simple step by step approach. This approach means looking for the most straightforward reason first.

1. Think of Diet First

If you suffer from any digestive issue including GERD then looking at your diet is an excellent first step.

Following an elimination diet, whereby most food allergens are removed, is an excellent place to start. Most elimination diets exclude wheat, dairy, spicy foods and nightshade vegetables.

Examples of elimination diest include:

The underlying cause of GERD may be Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Their symptoms are very similar. A low fodmap diet has been shown in clinical trials to help symptoms of IBS.

2. Dysbiosis

If the elimination diet does not give 100% relief, then the next consideration is dybiosis. Dybiosis is an imbalance or overgrowth of bacteria that live in the gut. Two types of dybiosis are associated with GERD.

H.pylori Overgrowth

H.pylori is a type of bacteria that live in the stomach and have been shown to be a cause of stomach ulcers. If someone has GERD and an overgrowth of H.pylori then it would seem reasonable to treat the H.pylori.

You can test for H.pylori using a stool, breath and blood test. Using a combination of all three tests ensures a more accurate diagnosis.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

SIBO can often be the underlying cause of IBS. It, therefore, makes sense that the treatment of SIBO may also help GERD.

SIBO can cause increased gas pressure in the small intestine and the stomach. This gas pressure may be one the mechanism by which SIBO causes GERD.

Reduced intestinal motility is associated with SIBO and may also contribute to GERD.

Testing for SIBO is achieved via a lactulose breath test.

Treatment of SIBO is a combination of a low fodmap diet, herbal antimicrobials and prokinetic supplements.

Prokinetics help with gut motility. Iberogast, a prokinetic, has been shown to relieve symptoms of heartburn and reflux. Another useful prokinetic supplement is Motilpro.

3. Increased Stomach Acid

If both dietary and dybiosis interventions do not give 100% relief, then the cause of GERD could be due to excess stomach acid.

The symptoms of high and low stomach acid often overlap however excess stomach typically occurs in younger people.

If younger people report a gnawing-type stomach pain or any family or personal history of gastritis or ulcers, there is a likelihood they are having issues with high stomach acid.

Treatment of increased stomach acid

In some cases, it may be necessary to use a take a short-term course of acid lowering medication.

Alternative treatments for increased stomach acid include a combination of Melatonin, B Vitamins, Betaine and Methionine.

Alternative treatments are not recommended for long-term use.

In Summary

Many Canadians suffer from GERD. The medical treatment of GERD is surgery.

3 often overlooked causes of GERD include diet, dybiosis and increased stomach acid.

If you think you have GERD then looking into these overlooked causes in a simple step by step approach may resolve your problems.



This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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How Do Probiotics Work For Constipation and Gas - Dominick Hussey

How Do Probiotics Work For Constipation and Gas?

There is a growing body of evidence showing that probiotics help digestive symptoms. This evidence has anecdotal, clinical and research origins. But how do probiotics work?

One popular theory is that probiotics repopulate the gut. Scientific research has not currently proved this argument.

Another hypothesis is that probiotics help to rebalance the friendly bacteria by killing the harmful microbes.

Read on to learn about a recently published research study that shows how probiotics work for constipation and gas.

A recent study published in the PLOS One journal has shown that probiotics can help reduce gas and improve constipation by decreasing certain “unfriendly” bacteria in the gut. These unwanted bacteria included Citrobacter, Klebsiella and Methanobrevibacter.

The researchers recruited 21 healthy adults. Each adult took a probiotic mixture. The composition of the mix included five strains of Lactobacilli and two strains of Bifidobacteria. Each adult received the combination once a day for 60 days.

What the study found

At the end of the study, the researchers found that there was a significant reduction in the numbers of Citrobacter, Klebsiella and Methanobrevibacter bacteria. This decrease in bacteria coincided with a decline in gas and constipation.

More specifically the researchers were able to show that there was a direct association between the reduction in abundance of Methanobrevibacter, the decrease in flatulence (for all the adults) and a decline in constipation (for women only).

This finding is not a surprise as there is a close correlation between Methanobrevibacter species and constipation and the production of methane gas.

A frequently overlooked ability of probiotics is their antibacterial effect. Probiotics can produce antibacterial and antifungal peptides (chemicals) that help reduce bacterial overgrowth in the gut.

How Probiotics Work For Constipation and Gas

The researchers concluded that the probiotics work for constipation and gas through their antibacterial effect which led to the reduction in the unfriendly bacteria.

There have been many studies like this one that show that taking probiotics may help reduce digestive symptoms. These studies have used different types of probiotic species.

As well as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium there are two other classes of probiotics including Saccharomyces boulardii and Soil Based Probiotics.

Does it matter which probiotics you use?

The simple answer is no, but it does matter which particular probiotic supplements you buy.

When choosing a probiotic supplement, you should consider the following:

  • Make sure you purchase a high-quality scientifically tested product that is safe.
  • Be wary of marketing that claims that a product can help with specific symptoms.

If you do decide to take a probiotic, then listen to how your body reacts and ignore any purported claims. If you don’t feel any improvement or your symptoms worsen, stop that supplement and move on to the next.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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