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You have probably heard of people going on a FODMAP diet recently. It has become rather popular among those who have SIBO. If you do not know much about diets, you may wonder if the FODMAP diet is healthy for people with SIBO. In this article, we will try our outmost to inform you about the FODMAP diet and then we will dive into whether or not that type of diet is safe for anyone who has SIBO.

What is SIBO?

The FODMAP

Let us first take a quick look at what SIBO really is. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), also at times known as blind loop syndrome, refers to a condition where the small intestine experiences an unusual rise in bacteria, and this includes species of bacteria that are not typically present in that section of the digestive system.

SIBO usually occurs due to a condition that somewhat restricts the normal movement of food and waste through the digestive tract, such as illness or surgery. This leads to a habitat in which bacteria can multiply, which can in turn cause diarrhea which leads to malnutrition and weight loss. SIBO may also be caused by structural issues and certain illnesses.

Symptoms of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can include:

• Lack of appetite
• Nausea
• Pain in the Abdomen
• Bloating
• Sudden Weight Loss
• Diarrhea
• Malnutrition

Antibiotics are said to be the best treatment for SIBO for most individuals. Doctors may initiate this treatment if the symptoms and medical history strongly indicate that bacterial overgrowth is the cause. They will do so even if the test results are uncertain, or even if there are no tests performed.

What is a FODMAP Diet?

Since we established what SIBO is and where it comes from, the next step is to look at the FODMAP diet and try to understand what it stands for. FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that are short-chain, or sugars, that is not absorbed properly by the small intestine.

Following a FODMAP diet mostly involves eating foods that are low in FODMAPs, which are specific types of sugars that may stir up intestinal discomfort. The actual purpose of this diet is to help those who have SIBO and/or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The diet assists them in finding out which foods may cause issues and which ones may lessen their symptoms in any way or provide any sort of relief for their conditions.

It has been reported that many people use the FODMAP diet plan to lose weight, even though the diet is not necessarily meant for weight loss, but many people shed pounds on this diet as it excludes many kinds of foods that are high in sugar and bad carbs.

It is important to note that this diet is especially risky for those who are underweight, so they are advised to not practice it.

Low-FODMAP Foods

You may be thinking about what low-FODMAP foods are. “Are oranges low FODMAP?” – Actually, many fruits are low FODMAP. Here is a list of low-FODMAP foods:

• Oranges, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries (among other fruits)
• Protein (eggs, meat, and so on)
• Almond milk
• Certain types of cheese such as cheddar, feta, brie, and Camembert
• Oats, quinoa, and rice (grains)
• Potatoes, eggplant, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini (among other vegetables)

Is the FODMAP Diet for helpful for SIBO?

And here is the real question we have been building up for, is the FODMAP diet safe for people with SIBO? In truth, we have found that to reduce symptoms of SIBO it is important to steer away from high FODMAP foods since they can worsen intestinal distress. These include high FODMAP foods such as:

• Bread, cereal, and crackers
• Lentils and beans
• Dairy products such as ice cream, yogurt, and milk
• Pears, peaches, apples, and cherries
• Onions, garlic, artichokes, and asparagus

As a result, you have to base your diet around low-FODMAP foods. It is also advisable to ask for the assistance of a gastroenterologist or nutritionist when following a low-FODMAP diet rather than trying to follow it by yourself, since you might have some complications or food allergies towards some types of food that you are not aware of.

Therefore, the low-FODMAP diet involves this three-step process:

• Firstly, high-FODMAP foods have to be excluded from the diet.
• Secondly, the high FODMAP foods are gradually introduced again to identify which ones cause the symptoms.
• Lastly, once the troublesome foods are recognized they can then be avoided. You can now consume other types of food without worry.

You might be asking yourself how long should you follow that elimination process? Doctors recommend you follow the food exclusion process of the diet for an average of four weeks. And additionally for those who have SIBO, the low FODMAP diet can assist you in reducing excessive amounts of intestinal bacteria, which in turn will also reduce discomfort by reducing excess gas and bloating.
Do note that this diet is not designed to cure SIBO, this diet wants to achieve the goal of making the lives of anybody suffering from SIBO a bit better.

Drawbacks of FODMAP Diet for SIBO

So are we saying that this diet is perfect for SIBO? far from it! There can be certain drawbacks of the FODMAP diet for SIBO, as it is rather restrictive since it excludes many types of foods. The low-FODMAP diet has the dangers of developing nutritional deficiencies by causing excessive weight loss and decreasing calcium. It has also caused many to develop disordered eating patterns.

Patients also came across cost differences on this diet when compared to their regular diet, and due to the nature of this restrictive diet, they also faced challenges when dining out at restaurants, traveling, and visiting the houses of friends and family.

In addition, it has been reported that following a low-FODMAP diet strictly has the potential to result in damaging gut microbiota, although the outcomes of what this might do to your health are unknown and vary from one person to another.

Alternative Diet for SIBO

Are there any alternatives to look for? which provides more benefits and fewer risks? Well, there is a particular diet that can work as an alternative for those who have SIBO, and it is called the biphasic diet. As the name implies, the diet is carried out in two phases. It involves a combination of a Specific Carbohydrate Diet and a low FODMAP.

This two-phase approach aims to minimize the effects of fungal and bacterial “die-off”. It also tries to remove the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, thus this diet aims to make you completely recover from SIBO.

In phase 1, the foods are categorized into three groups of dietary restrictions. You follow this phase for four to six weeks. These groups are:

• Restricted Diet
• Semi-Restricted
• Avoid

On the other hand, phase 2 is less restrictive. There are only two groups: “Phase 2 Diet” and “Avoid”. Afterward, it is claimed that all bacteria should be eliminated and motility is reimposed.

However, even though this diet is largely seen as a treatment for SIBO patients, there is no medical evidence to back this claim up, so regardless, be careful before you begin doing any kind of diet.

Conclusion

In the end, it is up to you to decide if you want to do the FODMAP diet for SIBO, as it has the benefit of reducing the adverse effects of SIBO. However this diet, unfortunately, also has the possibility of introducing new health problems.

Our advice is first is foremost to consult your doctor about what you should do. This diet does not factor in the age, height, and weight of an individual, so there might be a case of you being recommended food that a person of your age and weight should not be having.

This diet is rather easy to do with the help of a nutritionist as well, so taking a nutritionist’s advice would also help! Be safe!