What to eat if you have SIBO?
The question of what to eat if you are battling SIBO is something I get asked frequently. There is no easy answer and it varies by individual. However, there are a few places to start that can help you on your journey to healing.
If you suspect you have SIBO or are newly diagnosed, the easiest diet to begin with is the Low FODMAP. The Low FODMAP diet was developed by researchers at Monash University in Australia in 2005. What they discovered was that there were short-chain carbohydrates found in food that are either poorly absorbed in the small intestine or impossible to digest. They called these carbohydrates FODMAPs, an acronym which stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. The researchers discovered that because FODMAPs are relatively small, they attract water into the small intestine. When they reach the large intestine, they are fermented by resident gut bacteria, producing gas. The additional gas and water inside the gut stretches the bowel wall, triggering IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas and bloating, distension, constipation and diarrhea. In the case of someone with SIBO they have an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. When high FODMAP foods begin fermenting there it causes hydrogen gasses to be produced causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea or methane gasses that cause burping, reflux and severe constipation. Eliminating high FODMAP foods will slow down feeding the bacterial overgrowth and can help manage SIBO symptoms. (Monash 2020)
A second diet that often helps SIBO patients is the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD. This diet was developed in the 1924 by Dr. Sidney Haas to treat children with celiac disease. His work was furthered by Elaine Gottschall who recommended it for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases or IBD. A more recently study at Seattle Children’s Hospital successfully used this diet to place over 80% of their pediatric IBD patients in the study into remission. This diet is more restrictive than Low FODMAP as in eliminates all forms of grains, but for people with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions not eating grains is important as they are a large source of inflammation. (Nimbal 2020) (Seattle Children’s Hospital 2020)
Similar to the SCD is the SIBO Specific Diet. This was developed by Naturopath Allison Siebecker. It is also a grain free diet, but gives very specific information about the amounts of foods to eat. (Siebecker 2014)
As offshoot of this diet is the SIBO Bi-Phasic diet that introduces different foods in stages. (Jacobi 2014)
Importantly, with any of these diets is that they will not cure SIBO, but help you manage your symptoms while you go through treatment. The goal is that you should not have to follow them forever, but in time determine the foods are you are most sensitive too. Ideally, you should be working with a medical professional to help guide you through treatment and dietary options.
High and low FODMAP foods. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.monashfodmap.com/about-fodmap-and-ibs/high-and-low-fodmap-foods/
What is SCD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimbal.org/education/the-specific-carbohydrate-diet-/definition-and-history
Dietary Therapy for IBD. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.seattlechildrens.org/about/stories/dietary-therapy-for-ibd/
Siebecker, Allison, Sibo Specific Diet, Retrieved from https://www.siboinfo.com/uploads/5/4/8/4/5484269/sibo_specific_diet_food_guide_sept_2014.pdf
Jacobi, Nirala, B-Phasic Diet Protocol, Retrieved from