Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is gut condition in which there are abnormally large numbers of gut bacteria in the terminal ileum of the small intestine (the end of the small intestine, just before the colon). SIBO is one form of dysbiosis, or gut imbalance. Normally, the colon is where gut bacteria greatly increase in number, with the small intestine housing smaller numbers of bacteria. In SIBO, the high amount of gut bacteria in the small intestine leads to excess gas and discomfort. The condition is common in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It has been known for a while that SIBO is more common in alcoholics, but a recent study is the first to look at the relationship of SIBO in people with moderate alcohol consumption. As it turns out, the researchers, from the Mayo Clinic and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, found that moderate alcohol consumption—one drink per day in women and two per day in men—could lead to SIBO.

Dr. Gabbard, the lead researcher, stated, “While typical treatment for SIBO has been antibiotics, probiotics or a combination of the two, the question now becomes what is the exact association between moderate alcohol consumption and SIBO and whether alcohol cessation can be used as a treatment for this potentially harmful condition.”

Certainly, the things we consume—food, drink and medication—affect our gut. If you have been considering decreasing your alcohol intake (there are many good reasons to do so), it may just help improve your gut balance.