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The SIBO Diet

By Sara Ipatenco ; Updated July 18, 2017

The small intestine bacterial overgrowth diet, or the SIBO diet, is an eating plan designed to include foods that digest easily in the small intestine. The SIBO diet can be recommended for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and Crohn's disease, according to the Digestive Health Institute. Following the diet means including certain foods in your daily eating plan while also eliminating others to alleviate unpleasant digestive problems.

The SIBO Diet Explained

Healthy people have small amounts of bacteria in their small intestines that aid in the digestive process, according to Dr. Norm Robillard, writing for the Digestive Health Institute website. When large numbers of bacteria from the large intestine migrate to the small intestine, a person develops an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, referred to as SIBO. The overgrowth of bacteria can produce methane and other toxins that cause digestive problems such as cramps, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and nausea. SIBO can also cause damage to the small intestine, according to Robillard.

Approved SIBO Diet Foods

Eat foods that are easily to digest when following the SIBO diet. Bananas, blueberries, grapes, citrus, carrots, celery, corn, tomatoes, lettuce and eggplant are fruit and vegetable options on the SIBO diet. Lean meat, fish and eggs are approved for the SIBO diet as well. Nuts and seeds can be part of the SIBO diet too. Gluten-free grains, spelt and rice milk can also be in the SIBO diet, according to the Oxford University Press.

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Foods Off-Limits for the SIBO Diet

Eliminate foods not absorbed well by the intestines from your diet, according to the Oxford University Press. These foods provide fuel to the bacteria, which encourages even more to grow in the small intestine. For example, you'll need to restrict your intake of fiber from foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, because the human body doesn't digest fiber. Fermentable foods also cause bacteria to grow; these foods include sugar, apples, pears, cherries, plums, prunes, beans and legumes, dairy foods and certain vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, artichokes, avocado, asparagus, cauliflower and mushrooms. You should also avoid dairy foods on the SIBO diet.

Additional Considerations

If you've been experiencing gastrointestinal problems, talk to your doctor about trying the SIBO diet to see if helps. The "World Journal of Gastroenterology" notes that the diet might be beneficial for people with pancreatitis, diabetes mellitus, fibromyalgia, rosacea and the digestive problems associated with alcoholism. Some doctors will prescribe antibiotics to help treat SIBO, according to the "World Journal of Gastroenterology." If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics, ask him about probiotics too, which can help replenish your small intestine's store of good bacteria.

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