SIBO diet: Best foods to eat and which to avoid – Insider

SIBO diet: Best foods to eat and which to avoid – Insider

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition that causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • The SIBO diet can help relieve symptoms by eliminating foods that digest more slowly in the gut.
  • SIBO diets cut out whole grains, legumes, soft cheeses, and fiber-rich fruits or vegetables.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) occurs when too much bacteria, usually coliforms, grow in the small intestine. Coliform bacteria ferment carbohydrates, which often lead to symptoms like excess gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

The idea behind the SIBO diet is to maintain gut health by eating foods that are less likely to ferment in the intestine and feed coliform bacteria.

While SIBO is initially treated with antibiotics, “we think that the diet will prevent the bacteria from coming back,” says Mark Pimentel, MD, director of the Medically Associated Science and Technology program and associate professor of gastroenterology at Cedars-Sinai health organization.

There has been relatively little research conducted on the SIBO diet, but it has many overlaps with the low-FODMAP diet, which has more scientific backing as a treatment for gastrointestinal issues.

Here’s what you need to know about the risk of developing SIBO and how the SIBO diet can help.

Foods to avoid on the SIBO diet

While the low-FODMAP diet was originally designed to treat IBS, it is often prescribed to treat SIBO as well. Like the low-FODMAP diet, the SIBO diet aims to reduce foods that can ferment in your intestines — this means cutting out foods that normally digest more slowly like fiber and certain sugars like lactose.

The main difference between the SIBO diet and the low-FODMAP diet is the level of restriction, says Pimentel. For example, the low-FODMAP diet cuts out most fruits and some root vegetables like onions and garlic, while the SIBO diet is more lenient.

On the SIBO diet, you should not eat:

  • Any kind of sugar alcohol — these are often found in “sugar-free” products and often end with “ol” like sorbitol
  • Soft cheeses and milk
  • Probiotic supplements and foods containing probiotics like yogurt
  • Whole grain bread or oatmeal
  • Beans or legumes, including whole or ground up, like in hummus
  • Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and leafy greens
  • Apples, pears, and bananas should be eaten in limited amounts

Foods to eat on the SIBO diet

Foods that break down quickly into simple sugars are good for SIBO, because they give you nutrition without feeding the bacteria in your lower intestines. SIBO diet-friendly foods include:

  • Any type of meat
  • Eggs
  • Hard cheeses and lactose-free milk
  • White bread, pasta, cream of wheat
  • Root vegetables like carrots and beets
  • Fruit vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and squash
  • Mushrooms

A daily example meal plan on SIBO diet