Diet and SIBO
One of the most common misconceptions found on the internet is that diet alone can effectively cure SIBO. While reducing the amount of fermentable carbohydrates coming into a gut with SIBO can help to reduce symptoms, it does not (in my experience) cure SIBO. Treatment of the overgrowth directly, or of underlying causes, if often needed. Sticking to a strict low fermentation diet (AKA SIBO Diet) for a prolonged period of time can have a number of consequences that are worth considering:
1) Alterations (often not for the better) of your large intestine microbiome
2) Increased difficulty tolerating these foods down the line (even when SIBO free)
3) Increased food fear and potential for developing a disordered relationship with food or eating (or causing an eating disorder to resurface)
4) Limited social engagement and enjoyment of one of life's main pleasures - eating!
Remember: Dietary modification is a tool, not a treatment - so be cautious about adopting a restrictive diet without first working with a provider who understands there usefulness AND limitations.
A small selection of those I trust to give you accurate information and delicious recipes!
What is the Elemental Diet?
The Elemental Diet (ED) is one way to treat SIBO or provide “digestive rest” to people with inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, or other digestive concerns. Treatment courses can last anywhere from 3 days for digestive rest to 14-21 days for SIBO treatment. If you struggle with low weight or have a history of disordered eating know that the Elemental Diet may not be right for you. Be sure to work with a competent provider to ensure that this treatment appropriate for your case. Though there are many benefits of the ED (e.g., efficacy, etc.), there are also many challenges, such as:
Not eating for 14-21 days!
Bad taste of the various formulas
Potential for weight loss
Adverse effects, such as nausea, abdominal pain, or diarrhea
Exacerbation of yeast infections (gastrointestinal or other)
Note - be aware that many products advertised as Elemental Diets are not actually "elemental" and often contain whole proteins like whey, pea protein, soy protein, etc.