An anti-inflammatory SIBO diet can be one of the most effective holistic forms of treatment for people with gastrointestinal issues. Read on to learn how to design a diet plan that’s healthy for the small bowel and pleasing to the taste buds.
SIBO Diet Plan | What to Eat to Help Treat Your Gut
In This Article:
- What Is SIBO?
- What to Eat in a SIBO Diet Plan
- Enjoy a SIBO Diet by Doing Substitution
- An Important Note About SIBO Diets
What Is SIBO?
A SIBO diet is ideal for individuals who have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
SIBO is a condition that occurs in the small intestine. It is a 20-feet long organ in the digestive tract that connects the stomach to the colon (large intestine).
Like the colon, the small bowel contains certain types of bacteria. These are responsible for a variety of organ functions. These include the absorption and production of specific nutrients, immunity, and protection against bad organisms.
In some cases, however, there are changes in the gut colony. The bacteria normally found in the colon may end up in the small intestine. Their numbers may also increase. Both of these can lead to bacterial overgrowth.
These changes may eventually disrupt the functions of the intestine. People with SIBO will have a hard time absorbing nutrients. This can lead to severe vitamin deficiencies and other types of malnutrition. For children with SIBO, malnutrition can stunt their growth. It can also result in a leaky gut.
Some of the most common symptoms of SIBO are diarrhea, vomiting, and unhealthy weight loss. Constipation, flatulence, and bloating may also occur. In the long-term, it can increase the risks of autoimmune diseases and other complications.
If you have these issues and the doctor suspects SIBO, they may request blood and breath tests. They may also perform an endoscopy for a biopsy. In this process, the doctor inserts a thin tube into your throat. This instrument comes with a camera to allow the physician to see the conditions of the upper small intestinal tract in real-time.
Risk Factors and Causes of SIBO
There are different causes and risk factors of SIBO. One of these is a surgery that results in a blind loop. This can allow bacteria to multiply at high rates as food may eventually move slow. It’s also possible for a surgery to result in a backflow of bacteria toward the small intestine.
Individuals diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gluten intolerance, or celiac disease may also develop SIBO symptoms. So do those who may have immunity issues.
There’s also a strong connection between SIBO and inflammation. Chronic inflammation can damage the intestinal walls, the lymphoid cells, and the mucosal tissues of the small bowel. It can also prevent the small intestine from producing enough bile to break down food waste. If this happens, bacteria colonize them, leading to SIBO.
On the other hand, SIBO can also increase the risk of chronic inflammation.
What to Eat in a SIBO Diet Plan
The SIBO diet focuses on eliminating the types of food that are high FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols). These are the kinds of food usually present in a carbohydrate diet. The small bowel commonly takes a while to digest them. When you have SIBO, the food that lingers can lead to fermentation and bacterial overgrowth.
The kinds of FODMAP food are those that contain at least one type of the simple-chain carb categories. These are fructose, fructans, lactose, polyols, and galactans. Those broader groups can be hard to keep in mind, but the food types containing high amounts are familiar. They include:
- Dairy-based milk, yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and ricotta (lactose)
- Cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, leeks, snow peas, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts (several FODMAPs)
- Lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, baked beans, split peas, and black-eyed peas (galactans)
- Garlic and onions (fructans)
- Wheat-based pasta, bread, pastry, and cereals (fructans)
- Apples, dried fruits, watermelon, figs, cherries, apricots, pears, nectarines, peaches, and plums (fructose)
- Corn syrup, honey, and many sugarless gums and mints (polyols)
- Coconut water, sweet wine, rum, chai tea, and chamomile tea (various FODMAPs)
- Rye, barley, and amaranth (fructans)
A SIBO diet doesn’t have to mean a complete elimination of these types of food. If you eat them sparingly or in small amounts, they often don’t cause any ill effect. In other cases, fermented versions of some of these types of food can make them tolerable for individuals on a SIBO diet. This is the case with sourdough bread from various grains. This breaks down the sugars into more digestible components, so the food becomes more easily digestible.
The Diet Can Include These
Treating SIBO, therefore, may include incorporating a low-FODMAP diet. This means eating a meal plan high in fiber and/or low in various types of processed and natural sugars. They are not the sole treatment for SIBO, but they can reduce the risk of further overgrowth.
A SIBO diet can have the following:
- Protein selections: meat, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, and seeds
- “Dairy” selections: almond, soy, or rice alternatives to cow’s milk dairy products
- Grain selections: gluten-free products like pasta and crackers, rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and unsweetened cereals
- Fruit selections: strawberries, oranges, grapes, and blueberries
- Vegetable selections: Potatoes, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, summer squash, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and kale
- Miscellaneous selections: olives, most spices, coffee, and most teas
Enjoy a SIBO Diet by Doing Substitution
With a number of restrictions, a SIBO diet doesn’t seem to sound fun. The good news is you can make it healthy and appetizing by learning how to substitute.
Substitute for Grains
You can replace wheat-based carbs by choosing certain gluten-free varieties. (People with celiac disease need to follow a gluten-free diet.) These can include brown rice, polenta, quinoa, oatmeal, and buckwheat.
This way, you can substitute buckwheat pancakes for your morning toast or try polenta with tomato sauce instead of your usual spaghetti noodles.
Substitute for Tea
If you love chai or chamomile tea, switch to a low-FODMAP tea option such as black or green tea. Some people rely on chamomile to settle their stomachs and ease nerves. If you’re following a SIBO diet, you can opt for lavender, ginger, or peppermint teas. If you like your dessert wine, switch to a drier type or make a cocktail with vodka instead.
Substitute for Garlic and Onions
Giving up garlic and onions can be painful for people who rely on these pungent ingredients to add flavor and body to their dishes. You can replace them with scallions or a celery-carrot mixture instead. Spice this base with a blend of ginger, mustard seeds, or chives. You can also experiment with turmeric, ginger, saffron, chili, lemongrass, or Indian spices such as asafoetida.
If you can’t quit garlic, infuse it with stocks or oils. This gives you garlic’s unmatchable flavor without the high-FODMAP content.
An Important Note About SIBO Diets
The SIBO diet is not a lifestyle eating plan. It’s a holistic temporary approach to lower the number of “bad” bacteria in the small bowel. Staying on it for a long time may still cause changes in the gut flora. For example, it can decrease “good” bacteria.
Talk to your doctor about how long you should stay on the diet. The length of time will depend on factors such as the severity of your symptoms and health condition.
You also need to discuss the diet plan if you’re taking antibiotics or undergoing a SIBO protocol. Usually, though, the diet lasts for two to six weeks.
People prone to digestive issues may experience symptoms once they resume their regular meal plan. For this reason, the doctor may advise reintroducing the high-FODMAP food back gradually. If the symptoms persist, it may be best to avoid the foods entirely.
SIBO is commonly under- or misdiagnosed. BeFit share some telltale signs your gut issue is SIBO:
A SIBO diet may not be the cure you’re looking for, but it can provide significant relief. It provides the support your body needs to recover quickly. However, any kind of changes in the meal plan needs your doctor’s approval. Before you do anything else, talk about a more holistic approach to SIBO treatment with your physician. Don’t be afraid to raise your concerns and ask questions.
Have you tried the SIBO diet? What is its effect on your health? Share your experience below!
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned are intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.