Diet for Bacterial Overgrowth in Intestines

SIBO, also known as small intestine bacteria overgrowth, is a health condition where an overabundance of bacteria take over the environment of the small intestine. The small intestine typically has a much smaller amount of bacteria than the colon. Some bacteria present is important as bacteria assists with digestion and improves immune function. Too much causes excessive gas, bloating, abdominal pain, malabsorption and malnutrition.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


The intestines undergo what is called a "cleansing wave" every 90 to 120 minutes when fasting which removes wastes from the small intestine. When you are eating, this mechanism is turned off. This is why it is a good idea to stop snacking in between meals if you have small intestine bacteria overgrowth, explains Mark Pimentel, M.D., author of "A New IBS Solution." This allows the intestines to rest allowing the cleansing wave to remove excess bacteria and waste. "Today's Dietitian" recommends 3 to 5 hours between meals.

FODMAP-low Diet

FODMAPs stands for a group of fermentable carbohydrates known as fructans, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. "Today's Dietitian" reports that a diet low in FODMAPs is important to starve off the microbes in the small intestine. This includes cutting out milk, yogurt, certain cheeses, apples, pears, peaches, mangoes, watermelon; coconut milk, dried fruits, fruit juices, agave, honey, high fructose corn syrup, artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions, radicchio lettuce, shallots, broccoli, snow peas, wheat, rye, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and soy products. Foods that are okay are lactose-free dairy products, sorbet, ripe bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, lemons, limes, passion fruit, raspberries, strawberries, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, garlic-infused oil, gluten-free breads, rice, corn, rice cakes, potato and tortilla chips, bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, lemons, limes, oranges, passion fruit and raspberries.


Splenda is an artificial sweetener used to sweeten beverages and foods. Splenda is the brand name for sucralose and is derived from sugar. Splenda should be removed from your diet since it reduces beneficial gut bacteria in rats, explains a study in the 2008 "Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health." Your body needs this beneficial bacteria to promote a healthy gut flora consistently and to prevent an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut. Sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol and isomalt should also be excluded. Sweeteners which are okay are maple syrup, glucose, asparatame and sugar, according to "Today's Dietitian."

B-12 and Fat-Soluble Vitamins

As healing occurs from small intestine bacteria overgrowth, you may need to replete your B-12 and fat-soluble vitamins. Fat malabsorption can occur due to microbes metabolizing biles salts to the point where they are unable to assist with fat digestion. Additionally, if you are malabsorbing fat, then diarrhea may occur furthering a deficiency in the fat soluble vitamins A, D and E. Anaerobic bacteria feed off of the B-12 in the small intestine which results in low B-12 levels, according to a study in the July 2003 journal "Practical Gastroenterology." Sources of B-12 and fat-soluble vitamins need to be included on a diet for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Examples of foods include carrots, squash, pumpkin, apricots, dark leafy green vegetables, vitamin-D fortified milk, mushrooms, cod liver oil, vegetable oil, wheat germ, nuts, breakfast, cereals, beef and salmon.