SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by the presence of excessive bacterial growth in the small intestine. This is often associated with symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, malabsorption, and unintentional weight loss. It is important to understand the SIBO diet that can help to manage the symptoms.
The main goal of the SIBO diet is to eat easily digestible food with maximum nutrition absorption. The motive behind following this well-planned diet is to reduce symptoms and aid in gut healing. The SIBO diet mainly avoids food that may irritate the gut and provoke symptoms. It is advised to avoid food items that trigger symptoms or that are not digested easily. They provide nutrition to the bacteria at the end of the gut and may worsen the condition. It is best to limit intake of fiber and complex sugar as these are fermented by the bacteria in the gut causing bloating and abdominal discomfort. It is recommended to avoid fiber supplements and opt for a diet that contains a minimal amount of fiber naturally found in fruits and vegetables.
Unlike other dietary plans, in the SIBO diet, it is advised to avoid eating too frequently for optimal utilization of cleaning waves in the small intestine. Cleaning waves act in the small intestine in the absence of food; this action helps in removing the intestinal waste, bacteria, food by-products and other toxins from the gut. Frequent snacking provides less time to the body for providing cleansing waves, which in turn promotes bacterial growth.
Adequate hydration is necessary to maintain bowel movement. It is, therefore, necessary to include adequate water and other fluids in the diet.
SIBO Diet – Low FODMAPs
Studies have shown that the low FODMAPs diet can help reduce the symptoms of irritated gut seen in functional bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and SIBO.1 Low FODMAPs diet can reduce the total bacterial count and gas production in the gut.2 Low FODMAPs means fermented oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Reducing the intake of these foods can reduce bacterial overgrowth, fermentation, and symptoms like gas and discomfort due to irritated gut. The low FODMAPs diet can be incorporated in the SIBO diet for effective reduction of symptoms.
Guidelines for SIBO Diet
The following guidelines for the SIBO diet are recommended for planning a diet to minimize bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine:
As a part of the SIBO diet, it is important to avoid sweeteners like mannitol, fructose (corn syrup), sucralose, lactose, sorbitol and lactulose in the diet. Food items like fruit juice, candies, etc. that may contain sweeteners such as fructose should also be eliminated from the diet. It is also advised to limit daily sugar intake to less than 40 grams. However, sweeteners such as sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and aspartame (Equal/ NutraSweet) can be included in the diet in limited quantity.
Limit intake of high residue food such as lentils, peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and other varieties of beans from the diet. Other food preparation such as split pea soup, which may contain the above-mentioned pulses should also be avoided when following a SIB diet.
It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day. This is an important part of the SIBO diet.
Animal products such as beef, eggs, poultry, and fish can be taken without restriction. However, as a part of the SIBO diet, ensure the intake is apt for the individual’s body size. On average, most adults require 4 to 8 ounces of meat daily.
Food rich in carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, bread, cereals, etc. are well absorbed by the gut and provide energy for the body and do not provide fuel for the bacteria. Some individuals may not be able to tolerate pasta and bread, and thus should be careful. It is recommended to have no more than a half-cup of these with each meal.
Fruits should be consumed moderately as they contain fructose, which is difficult to digest. Fresh fruit should be preferred over dried fruits as the fructose concentration is higher in dried fruits. Only 2 servings of fruits are allowed in a day in a SIBO diet.
Fresh vegetables can be consumed without any restrictions. Cooked or steamed vegetables are preferred over raw vegetables as they are easier to absorb and digest. Raw vegetables and large portions of salad are difficult to digest and leave a residue. In the SIBO diet, it is advised to consume 3 to 5 cups of cooked vegetables every day.
In the initial stages of the SIBO diet, it is advised to avoid dairy products due to lactose intolerance. Almond milk, rice milk or Lactaid milk is preferred over regular milk. Soy milk should be avoided as it can cause bloating and gas.
Consumption of beverages such as tea, coffee, and soda should be restricted. Regular sodas may contain sweeteners such as corn syrup, which is not easily digested. Avoid beverages that contain artificial sugar and other additives.
Your SIBO diet should be planned in a way that is well balanced with all the nutrients and calories required by the body. Besides following a healthy diet, it is essential to exercise regularly and stay physically active which aids in regulating bowel movements. For any supplements or nutritional products, it is best to seek medical advice.
It is very essential to follow the diet properly if you have SIBO since neglecting it can cause long term stomach problems. However, following the SIBO diet recommended by your doctor or nutritionist can help you in dealing with the condition and treating it completely.
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