Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is just like it sounds: your small intestine has a lot of bacteria in it. Check out our recommended SIBO diet food list below to find out what you need to eat versus avoid.
In this article:
Customizing Your SIBO Diet: 9 Foods to Eat and Avoid
What is SIBO? SIBO is a digestive disorder that occurs when the small intestine has excessive bacteria. While it is essential to have bacteria in the gut to aid in digestion, too much of it can cause some complications.
What is a SIBO Diet? This diet involves the elimination of bacteria-induced inflammation in the digestive tract, particularly in the small intestine. Carbs that are difficult to digest or ferment in the stomach are removed from the SIBO diet.
Recommended Diets for SIBO
Before we get into the list of foods, let’s dive into some of the popular SIBO diets:
1. Low-FODMAP Diet
The low-FODMAP diet is usually recommended to those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are hard to digest.
The name stands for:
Reducing FODMAPs in foods can help alleviate stomach pains and improve nutrient absorption.
There are 3 stages to follow in this type of diet:
- Restriction – This stage strictly avoids all high-FODMAP foods for 3-8 weeks.
- Reintroduction – This stage needs the help of a professional dietician who can guide you to which high-FODMAP foods you can reintroduce in your body.
- Personalization – In this last stage, your food intake is already tailored to your food tolerance. You know your triggers and the foods your stomach can digest without causing inflammation.
2. Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
Many people who are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis follow this regimen, but those with SIBO and other gastrointestinal disorders may also benefit from it. Since the SIBO diet aims to limit carbohydrates, the SCD incorporates foods with monosaccharides or simple sugars, which are easier to digest.
3. GAPS Diet
The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet eliminates foods with complex carbohydrates and focuses on nutrient-dense items. It comes in six introductory stages that involve different methods of preparing home-cooked meals such as soups, stews, and vegetables.
Fun Fact: Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor and nutritionist consultant, developed this diet. She believed that a leaky gut is the root cause of many physical and mental health problems.
4. Elemental Diet
The elemental diet is a medically-supervised diet that includes foods with macronutrients. In some cases, meal replacements are recommended to regulate fermentation and gut flora.
5. Cedars-Sinai Low Fermentation Diet
Similar to the SCD, the Cedars-Sinai Low Fermentation Diet’s main goal is to avoid foods with complex carbohydrates. This diet’s specific purpose is to create a meal plan that will control the patient’s carb intake and overall gut health.
Foods to Eat in Your SIBO Diet
- Green beans
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
2. Non-Dairy Alternatives
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Hemp milk
- Soy milk
- Cold cuts
6. Nuts and Seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Tapioca (except barley and rye)
9. Most Herbs and Spices
Foods to Avoid in Your SIBO Diet
Since wheat products such as bread, pasta, cereals, and pastries are often consumed in large amounts, this ingredient contributes a lot of FODMAPs and is harder to digest.
Similar to wheat, rye is often found in bread and baked goods that entail higher intake. Rye also has more FODMAPs than wheat, which is why you should avoid this in your SIBO diet.
3. Sugary Drinks
Beverages such as soda and fruit juices contain a lot of sweeteners and fructose respectively, which may affect the fermentation in your gut. Drinks such as chai tea, chamomile tea, and coconut water are better options for your SIBO diet.
4. Dairy Products
Some dairy products are high in lactose and additives such as cream cheese, milk, cottage cheese, and ricotta. Desserts such as ice cream and yogurt should also be consumed in moderation.
While legumes are good sources of proteins, it is best to eat them in small quantities to help avoid gas and bloating. Legumes such as baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, and soybeans contain galactans, which are a common type of FODMAP.
6. Dried Fruits
Just like regular fruits, dried fruits contain fructose and often come with added flavoring.
7. Garlic in Processed Food
Garlic contains fructans, which is a sugar compound classified as high in FODMAPs. Fresh garlic has many health benefits and can be consumed, but avoid dried garlic in your SIBO diet.
Onions are also high in fructans, especially shallots. Restricting onions from your SIBO diet may be difficult since it is present in most dishes. This is only recommended for those who strictly want to follow the low-FODMAPs diet.
Noodles, especially the instant variety, are high in carbohydrates that are difficult to digest.
The SIBO diet may be customized depending on the patient’s lifestyle. It is important to consider what may have caused the diagnosis before making dietary decisions.
Consulting your doctor is always the best option so that you can monitor your overall gut health.
For more information on how you can take care of your gut, you can check out my proven formula in my new book Total Gut Balance. The book includes recipes you can follow to increase the good bacteria and fungi in your digestive system.
Do you know other foods to include or exclude from the SIBO diet? Share your answers in the comments below!