What are SIBO Symptoms and How to Treat it?
Be better prepared for prevention and treatment by knowing the different SIBO symptoms. One important factor to look at is your diet. Some food types worsen the condition and slow down the effect of remedies. You need to alter the way you eat to manage your SIBO symptoms better. This article provides you with an overview of the condition and a brief SIBO food guide.
SIBO Symptoms, Risk Factors, Treatment, and Diet
In this Article:
- What Is SIBO?
- What Causes SIBO?
- What Are the SIBO Symptoms?
- What Is the Best Treatment for SIBO?
- What Is the Best Diet for SIBO?
- What Foods Are Good for SIBO?
- What Foods Should Be Avoided with SIBO?
1. What is SIBO?
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is the excessive presence of bacteria in the small intestine. It hampers the absorption of nutrients and causes inflammation in the intestinal lining, leading to more serious conditions.
Bacteria and other microorganisms are naturally present in the gastrointestinal tract. When the levels of gut flora are normal, they are beneficial to the body. They help ferment undigested food residue, synthesize vitamin K, and serve as a barrier against pathogens, among others.
An excessive amount of gut bacteria, especially in the small intestine, causes problems. Certain strains of bacteria destroy bile salts, which are important in breaking down fats. Others heavily consume refined carbohydrates then turn them into short-chain fatty acids. Some even emit toxins that damage the lining of the small intestine. All these results in the malabsorption of nutrients and inflammation, causing symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and gas to manifest.
2. What Causes SIBO?
As of writing, there is no definite cause of SIBO, but there are risk factors, which include:
- Food with fermentable carbohydrates
- Diminished gastric acid (a suppressant of bacterial growth) production
- Dysmotility or when gastrointestinal (GI) muscles cannot properly move food and bacteria
- Anatomic or structural abnormality in the small intestine
- A poor immune system function
- Recurrent use of antibiotics
- Chronic alcohol use
Other conditions are linked with SIBO, such as:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
3. What are the SIBO Symptoms?
SIBO symptoms may initially manifest the way Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other GI tract problems do. When overlooked, other symptoms like chronic stress, malnutrition, and skin issues may occur. The symptoms listed below may or may not happen simultaneously, plus, experiences of how they manifest vary.
- Excess gas or flatulence
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
4. What Is the Best Treatment for SIBO?
Taking antibiotics is among the treatment options for SIBO. They keep the bacteria overgrowth under control in a short time and for some, this may take about two weeks.
Note that SIBO is a challenging condition to deal with even with medication. Antibiotics provide relief, but they may also kill off the healthy bacteria needed for digestion. When this happens, the condition partially improves but may recur.
Herbal remedies can help with SIBO, as well. They are ‘gentler’ than antibiotics as they are made with ingredients like Indian barberry root, oregano, wormwood, berberine, garlic, and lemon.
While some people respond immediately to direct medication, others need a more sustainable strategy. It primarily involves changing the diet, like eliminating gluten and boosting probiotics and biofilm with supplements like the Biofilm - SIBO 1 bundle. A diet change allows the gut to rest from the triggers of bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. Supplements, meanwhile, promote the growth and restoration of healthy bacteria.
With all these to consider, it is hard to zero in the ‘best treatment for SIBO. People simply react differently to a treatment. What works for some may not necessarily work for others.
To recap, these are the options to treat SIBO:
- Antibiotics like rifaximin
- Herbal antibiotics and remedies
- Diet change
- Biofilm boosters
5. What is the Best Diet for SIBO?
Again, just like the treatment options, it’s hard to say what diet works best for SIBO. It really depends on the person’s reaction to the diet and the severity of his or her condition.
It is important to understand these diet goals first for SIBO diet plans to work effectively:
- Decrease triggers of bacterial overgrowth
- Limit or eliminate food that irritates the small intestine
- Promote gut health
- Avoid foods high in fermentable carbohydrates
With these goals in mind, it is imperative to limit or eliminate starchy and sugary food. Bacteria feed off carbohydrates and sugar, and it is important to cut off their power supply.
Diet plan options for SIBO:
Low FODMAP Diet (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols)
Overview: A balanced diet that includes starches
Eat: meat, poultry, eggs, fish, low lactose dairy, non-dairy alternatives, wheat-free grains, vegetables, fruits in limited servings, most low FODMAP beverages in small amounts
Avoid: complex carbs, lactose, artificial sugar, processed food
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Eat: fresh and low-sugar fruits, meat, fresh or frozen non-starchy vegetables, natural cheeses, simple carbs, nuts
Avoid: plantains, grains, and flours, lactose, artificial sugar, processed foods, dried fruits with added sugars
- Cedars Sinai-Low Fermentation Diet
Overview: A diet that limits fermentable carbohydrates but not too restrictive
Eat: Vegetables that grow underground, meat, lactose-free dairy, easy to digest carbohydrates like rice and sweet potatoes, small amounts of fruit
Avoid: high fiber foods, excess fructose, beans or legumes, anything with lactose
SIBO Diet Tips: Listen to your gut—that’s how you know what works best for you and what doesn’t. And, avoid processed food as much as possible.
6. What Foods Are Good for SIBO?
- Fruits and vegetables in the SIBO diet are fresh or frozen and mostly non-starchy:
- Leafy greens
- Lean meat
- Nut butter
- Non-dairy milk from coconut, almond, pistachio
7. What Foods Should be Avoided with SIBO?
The SIBO foods to avoid mostly contain:
- Lactose — dairy products
- Fructose — processed sugars, fruit juices, baked goods
- Fructans — gluten products like wheat and some vegetables like garlic and onions
- Polyols — sugar alcohol used as a sweetener mostly found in gum, mints, and medicine
- Galactans —legumes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and soy
Learn how to treat SIBO and leaky gut in this video:
Reducing SIBO symptoms is possible with the right medication and proper diet. Implementing either separately may not effectively treat the condition. It is best to consult your doctor and work out a management plan that balances remedies and diet.
What is your experience with SIBO symptoms? Let us know in the comments section.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned is intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.