7 Nutrition Guidelines for a SIBO Diet
When you are first diagnosed with SIBO, choosing and following a diet can be overwhelming.
Here are 7 key suggestions for beginning the journey as suggested by Kristy Regan, who combines nutritional therapies, lifestyle education and counseling to assist her clients on the path to wellness.
Having personal experience with battling SIBO, she appreciates how nutrition and wellness therapies support us in healing.
She is passionate about sharing her insights and expertise in cooking, nutrition, and health.
Assess your health.
Complete a health assessment with a practitioner who is well versed with SIBO. I recommend discussing the following with your health care practitioner:
- How well are you digesting your food – do you hear bowel grumbling or have nausea after you eat?
- Are you seeing any undigested food in your stool?
- What IBS or SIBO symptoms are having including, gas, reflux, diarrhea, constipation, changes in bowel movement frequency, anxiety, food sensitivities, inflammation, etc.?
- Do you know what the underlying cause of your SIBO is? This can be helpful in determining the course of treatment, addressing any anatomical issues, adhesions, etc.
- Are you able to maintain your weight or are you losing/gaining weight?
- How is your energy level and sleep?
- Have you taken a SIBO test and know your results?
- What is your current stress level and is it having a direct effect on your health?
Choose a SIBO diet.
SIBO diets are meant to help mitigate symptoms and support healing but aren’t meant to “cure” SIBO. With SIBO, people tolerate different foods so everyone’s diet will look different. All diets for SIBO are meant to be a starting point. Test foods to see what you need to add or remove. Be careful of “legal/illegal” systems that don’t take your individual tolerances into account. Two of the diets I recommend are:
- Low FODMAP diet. This diet was created specifically for IBS. Monash University has an app that shows FODMAP levels in food that they’ve tested and can be a helpful reference. There are a large variety of foods in this diet so if you are having minimal symptoms and can tolerate high starch and fiber foods this can be a less restrictive but still helpful diet.
- Siebecker’s SIBO Specific Food Guide. This is a fairly restricted diet but may alleviate more symptoms. It is meant to be a starting point and then people are meant to test foods over time. For those who are having undesired weight loss, test and add in some starches like white rice or white potato. These are lower fiber, higher glycemic foods so they tend to not feed a bacterial overgrowth.
Keep a food diary.
If it doesn’t create anxiety for you, keep a food/mood/bowel movement diary to see which foods you may be reacting to and how your symptoms are changing. Review the diary with your health practitioner to ascertain patterns and specific reactions. Be careful to not eliminate too many foods. You need to maintain a variety in your diet in order to get enough nutrients. If you’re only eating a couple foods you’re also more likely to develop sensitivities to those foods.
If you’re seeing undigested food in your stool and having digestion issues, it’s helpful to peel, deseed, cook and puree your vegetables and fruits. Broth, soups, smoothies, vegetable purees and fruit compotes can be very helpful in easing digestion issues. Keep raw vegetables or salads to a minimum. Limit whole nuts/nut flours, beans, and rough foods until you can tolerate them. Add healthy fats to your diet, like ghee or butter, coconut oil and olive oil, to support satiety and overall health. Try to get a combination of healthy fats, carbs and protein in each meal and avoid processed foods with high FODMAP ingredients. Make sure to chew food well, enjoy your food and eat in a stress free environment whenever possible.
Create trades for foods that might cause issues. Use can substitute garlic oil for garlic (high FODMAP), use two egg yolks instead of an egg (for those who have a hard time digesting the protein found in egg whites), use the green parts of green onions instead of regular onion (high FODMAP).
Invest in yourself.
When your budget allows, choose organic foods, especially healthy oils and grass fed/free range meat and eggs. Meat from healthy animals is very important because animals are on the top of the food chain and if they are exposed to toxins via antibiotics/illness, GMO grains and pesticides, this gets passed on to the person eating it. Consider your food budget as part of your health insurance.
Support the MMC.
The Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) performs a “cleaning wave” in the small intestine when we leave 3-5 hours between meals. Avoid snacking if possible or snack closer to mealtime so you have at least three hours without food/caloric drinks (water is fine).
Starting a therapeutic diet can be frustrating. It’s important to remember the reason for a diet is to support healing and help mitigate symptoms. Tweak the diet so it works for you and make sure to get support along the way!
By Kristy Regan,
Who is Kristy Regan?
Kristy holds a Masters of Science in Nutrition. She is a frequent SIBO lecturer and was a speaker in the June 2017 SIBO SOS Summit, as well as a guest on the Healthy Gut podcast.
Check out her website, Vital Food Therapeutics, to set up a Skype appointment or see free SIBO diet recipes.