SIBO Diet Plan: 5 Essentials to Heal

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By Dr.lauryn

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SIBO Diet Plan Basics

So you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and you’re looking for a SIBO diet plan to support your healing? You’ve come to the right place.

People with SIBO often experience bloating, constipation, gas, IBS or abdominal discomfort after meals, no matter what they eat, making meal times tough.

Even “healthy” foods can aggravate symptoms….

Brussels sprouts and kale cause gas…Sweet potatoes give some IBS…apples feel like a brick in their stomach…eggs make farts smell rotten…bone broth makes them dizzy…and chicken and grass-fed beef give others stomach cramps.

As a result, many folks find themselves limited to eating the same 5 to 10 foods because it’s all their body can tolerated.

So what should you eat on a SIBO diet plan?

Answer: Listen to your gut.

Listen to Your Gut

SIBO diet plan - vegetables, smoothie

There is no one-size-fits approach to the perfect SIBO diet plan.

While there are general recommendations (outlined below), ultimately, what works for your gut healing is different than Susan’s or Joe’s gut healing.

That said, a SIBO diet plan is a short-term elimination diet, meant to decrease inflammation and bloating in the gut and allow “breathing room” for gut cleansing to take place.

Additionally, while a SIBO diet plan is a powerful tool for reducing SIBO symptoms, it’s not the only solution for ridding your body of SIBO. This is where an antimicrobial protocol and SIBO cleansing strategy comes into play. 

Foods to Limit

A SIBO diet plan aims to reduce foods that spike bacterial fermentation, bloating and gas.

If you have SIBO, whenever you eat foods that make you bloat, this is a sign of more bacteria translocating and fermenting in the small intestine.

Many of my patients over the years have (inaccurately) believed that, as long as they are “addressing” SIBO with antibiotics or herbs…then food is a free for all! Bring on the chips and quest, and fries and milkshakes…not quite.

Others have fallen into the trap of going on an elimination diet and staying on the MOST restrictive version…for years. This equally is not healthy for your gut!

While bloating reduction is the name of the SIBO diet plan game by reducing foods that exacerbate SIBO…it’s important you STILL aim to incorporate variety and “test the waters” with dietary expansion as treatment commences.

The type of SIBO(s) you have (detected on a SIBO breath test) can also make a difference in what foods do or don’t agree with you.

Generally, many folks with hydrogen or methane-based SIBO feel best following a Low FODMAP dietary approach—particularly before SIBO treatment begins with supplements or antibiotics and probiotics.

SIBO diet plan - woman eating big bar of chocolate

 Foods to Limit for Hydrogen & Methane SIBO

  • High FODMAP foods (see list)
  • High histamine foods (fermented foods, wine, dried fruit, chocolate, processed deli meats/bacon/sausage)
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Grains (exceptions: white rice)
  • Beans, lentils, soy and peas
  • Peanuts and cashews
  • Industrial seed oils (canola, vegetable, sunflower)
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Fillers, additives and gums (in bars, shakes, supplements, etc.)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Alcohol
  • Sodas and carbonated beverages
  • More than 1 cup of coffee/ day

 Foods to Limit for Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO

Limit high sulfur foods:

  • High sulfur proteins: Beef, Pork, Game meats, Cod, Tuna, Eggs, Whey, Collagen, Gelatin, Bone Broth
  • Chocolate
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Grains (except white rice)
  • Peanuts and cashews
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • High fiber prebiotic foods: Jicama, leeks, onions, artichoke, asparagus, papaya, pineapple
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Fillers, additives and gums (in bars, shakes, supplements, etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Sodas and carbonated beverages
  • More than 1 cup of coffee/ day

Note: See a complete Low Sulfur Food List. This approach is best in the early stages of SIBO—prior to full on treatment or during the first 30 to 90 days of treatment to aid in minimizing symptoms.

Foods to Eat

It can be easy to focus on what foods to AVOID if you have SIBO, that we forget that there are 100’s of other foods you CAN eat on a SIBO diet plan.  Let food be thy medicine!

Again, once official SIBO treatment ensues, I encourage my patients to gradually expand their diet  and incorporate as much variety as possible with nutrient-dense foods  to encourage beneficial colonic bacteria to help bring the biome back to balance.

A HUGE reason why many people “demonize” certain real, nutrient-dense foods as being “bad” for your gut is because many often have an underlying gut condition that inhibits proper digestion (ie. The carnivore people call many vegetables “toxic”, the keto people call many starchy tubers—like sweet potatoes and potatoes—“bad”, the vegan people call animal proteins “bad”, etc.)

For foods you CAN eat on a SIBO diet plan, check out the “green” lists for the Low FODMAP and  Low Sulfur Food List, dependent on what type of SIBO you have.

Stick to the green side in the initial stages of SIBO healing journey, and gradually introduce one new (real) food at a time as you begin your SIBO treatment protocol.                                                                                                                             

Basically: eat real food.

Elemental Diet: Yay or Nay?

The Elemental diet is an effective SIBO diet option whenever antimicrobial or antibiotic treatment fails, or if patients are miserable every time they eat.

This is a liquid diet consisting of powdered nutrients in pre-digested, easily absorbed form.

The main ingredients are amino acids, some type of quick-digesting carbohydrate, like raw honey or maltodextrin in commercial formulas, fat, like MCT, avocado oil or coconut oil, and vitamins and minerals.

How to “do it”? Simply consume 3 to 5 elemental “meals” daily.

Studies show over 80 percent success rate in eradicating SIBO. However, there are a few nuances:  First, elemental formulas are expensive, they are also restrictive— you can’t eat solid food for one to three weeks, and they can lead to unwanted weight loss if you are underweight already.

That said, as a “last resort” or trial, the elemental diet  is arguably the most effective, safe treatment without high risks or complications.

Check out the Elemental Heal formula for a commercial version (whey-free chocolate is my fave) or use my recipe:

Elemental Diet Homemade Milkshake

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp amino acids (approximately 25 g protein) or non-gut disturbing protein powder (such as grass-fed cold-extracted whey protein or Beef isolate protein powder)
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, MCT oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pink sea salt
  • 2 capsules quality multi-vitamin
  • 1 capsule quality probiotic
  • 8 oz. filtered water OR Optional Non-Dairy Milk: unsweetened almond, coconut, pecan or hemp milk (no additives or gums)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup crushed ice (to thicken) 

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a blender.

5 Essential SIBO Diet Plan Hacks

Aside from the actual foods we eat or don’t eat, the lifestyle and nutritional hacks and habits that we practice also have a significant impact on SIBO healing.

Hack #1. Don’t Eat the Same Things Everyday

A healthy gut ultimately thrives  an abundance and variety of nutrient dense foods. Dysbiosis happens when we eat the same things every day.

#2. Support Digestion At Every Meal

Pause for 1 minute to take some deep breaths before you eat as well as after you eat. You can also swig 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar in water and take high dose digestive enzymes and digestive bitters or gallbladder support with meals.

#3. Softly Cook, Puree, Slow Cook, Steam Your Foods REALLY Well

It’s not just what we eat, but how our food is prepared that impacts digestion. Charred, grilled and roasted meats for example are much more difficult to digest than broiled, slow cooked or stewed meats. Similarly sautéed dark leafy greens digest better than raw salad greens, boiled or cooked carrots better than raw carrots and pickled and cultured vegetables over raw cruciferous.

#4. Keep Meals Simple

SIBO Diet Plan - simple meal

#5. Gradually Pulse & Reintroduce Foods

Have no fear! After about 30 to 90 days on your SIBO treatment protocol with antimicrobials, antibiotics and/or probiotics, strive to not fall into the rut of eating only 5 to 10 foods. Food fears can cause more digestive problems in the long run. When we psyche ourselves over “good” and “bad” foods, we already inhibit our digestive superpowers. Keep an open mind as you begin your SIBO treatment protocol with the goal of gradually expanding your diet.

Sample 3 Day SIBO Diet Plan 

DAY 1

Breakfast

  • Turkey sausage
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Sautéed chard and mushrooms in ghee

 Lunch

  • “SIBO” bowl
  • Pulled chicken
  • 2 tbsp paleo Ranch dressing
  • Roasted carrots and beets
  • Sautéed bok choy in ghee

 Dinner

  • Baked salmon
  • Cooked and cooled purple sweet potato with coconut butter
  • Green beans

 *** 

DAY 2

Breakfast

  • Soft boiled eggs
  • Organic turkey or ham
  • Sautéed summer squash and shiitakemushrooms in ghee

 Lunch

  • “SIBO” bowl
  • Leftover salmon
  • 2 tbsp paleo Green Goddess dressing
  • Leftover roasted carrots and beets
  • Mixed greens 

Dinner

  • Duck breast
  • Roasted Kombocha squash
  • Dark leafy greens sautéed in coconut oil

 *** 

DAY 3

Breakfast

  • Gut Love Smoothie:

– Protein Powder (Beef isolate protein powder), shake up in water

Lunch

Dinner

  • Taco meat (sea salt, coconut aminos, turmeric, oregano)
  • Guacamole
  • Roasted summer squash

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