SIBO (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth) is a gastric condition where bacteria in the small intestine overgrow to about 10,000/ml of gastric fluids. As a consequence, the harmony of the gut gets disrupted and people experience gut problems.
But diet can improve gut issues, right? A healthy SIBO diet can alleviate the symptoms and promises a healthy gut.
However, you must remember that a SIBO diet doesn’t necessarily cure the disease, but plays a crucial role in the management and intervention of the IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) with SIBO.
Plus, each person might want to customize their own SIBO specific diet because each gut is unique!
In this article, you’ll learn about the fundamentals of dietary intervention for SIBO, which includes several recommended diets, the food you must consume, tools to help you, and a SIBO diet food list.
Treatment Of SIBO Through Diet
Since bacteria in the gut mainly feed on carbohydrates, the foods in a SIBO dietary treatment reduce the number of fermentable carbs. When their food supply runs short, the number of bacteria also starts dwindling, thus reducing digestive symptoms.
However, you must remember that:
- Tolerance to each food varies from person to person depending on the unique combination of bacterial species in each person.
- The microbial footprint in the feces can rapidly change due to the dietary changes.
- There isn’t profound evidence regarding SIBO diets, even though some diets are researched more than others
- Each SIBO diet modifies particular carbs
Goals Of A SIBO Diet
Like every dietary intervention, a SIBO diet has the goal to:
- Decrease the fermentation of bacteria to an optimum level and elevate the absorption of nutrients from food
- Allow breaks in between eating sessions so that the migrating motor complex waves might clean up your gut
- Help you pick nutritious and healthy foods in your diet that you can easily tolerate
Keeping these goals in mind, you can choose the least-restrictive diet form that is simple and stress-free. Try not to overthink things and aim to control your condition via diet.
Best SIBO Diets
There are different types of SIBO diets which are differentiated in terms of their restrictiveness and carbohydrate intake. Read on below to discover what each diet comprises of and identify the one for you.
Low Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAP) Diet
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides (fructans/GOS), disaccharides (milk sugar, lactose), monosaccharides (excess fructose) and polyols (sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and mannitol).
These are mainly osmotic carbs which might not be absorbed or digested properly in the gut. Due to low absorption/digestion rate, the excess amount of these carbs is fermented by the gut bacteria, and hence, causes issues like bloating and gas.
In this diet, foods with high FODMAPs are restricted from 2 weeks to 2 months and then reintroduced depending on the individual’s tolerance.
It is one of the most effective dietary interventions for SIBO and IBS, the proof of which has been provided by research.
The list of low FODMAP foods includes:
- Meat (chicken, fish, beef, and other meat types)
- Low-lactose dairy (cream cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan, and cheddar etc.)
- Wheat-free grains (bagels, pasta, noodles, oats, quinoa, and rice etc.)
- Vegetables (leafy greens, cucumbers, eggplant, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, yams, and olives etc.)
- Fruits (banana, berries, orange, lemon, lime, kiwi, papaya, and grapefruit etc.)
- Beverages (tea, coffee, gin, and small amount of low FODMAP juices etc.)
However, you must limit high FODMAP foods, which include:
- Meats with high FODMAP ingredients
- Diary (milk, soft cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, whipped cream, and custard etc.)
- Whole-wheat grains (wheat, barley, inulin, flour tortillas, and rye etc.)
- Vegetables (onion, garlic, artichoke, cabbage, cauliflower, and okra etc.)
- Fruits (excess amounts of apple, apricot, dates, canned fruits, dried fruits, and mango etc.)
- Beverages (high FODMAP juices, milk, and rum etc.)
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
Considered as the most restrictive SIBO diet type, this one has helped many people come over their digestive issues. It is intended to be used by people suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic diarrhea, and cystic fibrosis.
This diet type comprises of food based on their carb structure. Also, complex carbs, such as starches and grains, are not allowed. However, there is some proof that SCD has shown its efficacy in treating inflammatory bowel disease, but not in SIBO or IBS.
Here is the list of foods you can consume during SCD.
- Proteins (chicken, beef, pork, fish, and eggs etc.)
- Dairy (yogurt, natural cheeses, such as cheddar, Colby, and Swiss etc.)
- Vegetables (fresh or frozen non-starchy vegetables
- Fruits (fresh fruits)
- Grains (not allowed!)
- Beverages (fresh juices without added sugars, weak tea or coffee, club soda, and gin etc.)
Cedars Sinai-Low Fermentation Diet
This type of SIBO diet emphasizes on the spacing between meals and allows for low fermentation foods. The best thing about this least-restrictive diet is that you can consume easily-digestible sugars and starches.
The limited amount of carb consumption in this diet is similar to FODMAP diet but is quite simpler.
You can eat:
- Proteins (all proteins are fine)
- Dairy (lactose-free dairy only)
- Carbohydrates (easy to digest carbs like rice, potatoes, baguette or white bread)
- Vegetables (underground vegetables like potatoes, yams, carrots, turnips, and tomatoes etc.)
- Fruits (small amounts of fruit)
- Beverages (water, tea, and coffee)
So, Which SIBO Diet Should You Be Going For?
Since there are so many diet options available, one can be confused about which one to choose. So, the best step to take is to keep things simple and remember the basic facts.
For many people, the low FODMAP diet and/or the fermentation diet can be best. The foods in these diets can be adjusted as per the individual’s tolerance. So, keep it simple, but significant.
But, if you’re having serious gut issues and you want to get more restrictive, you can reduce the number of starchy foods in your diet and turn it into an SCD diet. But then again, you can customize your diet and even develop a hybrid one according to what suits you best.
So, what are you going to choose?