Is There a SIBO Diet That Will Help My Symptoms?

SIBO is a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. SIBO may have serious causes and complications. There is no SIBO diet that you should try on your own to treat SIBO symptoms.

SIBO treatment

Natural SIBO treatment is available that is just as effective (or more) than a conventional SIBO cure with antibiotics

SIBO treatment (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is often needed for many people with chronic gas, bloating, and

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a medical condition caused by abnormal types and amounts of bacteria growing in your small intestine. Your small intestine is the part of your digestive system between your stomach and your colon. It is about  20 feet long. Food moves quickly through your small intestine, and unlike your colon, there is very little bacteria. [1-2]

If you have SIBO, the passage of food through your small intestine slows down. This allows bacteria to grow in your small intestine. The growth of bacteria causes the symptoms of SIBO. There are many reasons why digestion in the small intestine may slow down. Possible causes include: [1,2]

  • Cancer
  • Surgery or scar tissue from surgery for obesity, cancer, or ulcer disease
  • Diabetes
  • Twisting of the small intestine
  • Opioid drugs
  • Diseases of the liver or pancreas
  • Inflammatory small bowel disease (Crohn’s disease)

SIBO Symptoms

According to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), the most common symptoms of SIBO are: [2]

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Distention
  • Flatulence

Other symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Because long-term SIBO can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals, you may have symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency including fatigue, tingling, numbness, and confusion. You may also develop weak bones or kidney stones from a lack of calcium. [1]

SIBO Diagnosis and Treatment

Because SIBO can be caused by a serious condition and can have serious complications, you should see your doctor if you have SIBO symptoms. The best test for SIBO is a small intestine fluid culture. A small tube is placed down through your stomach into your small intestine to sample intestinal fluid. This test can find abnormal bacteria caused by SIBO. [1,2]

Another important diagnostic test is a SIBO breath test. For this test, you eat some sugary food. The bacteria caused by SIBO will digest the food and give off gasses that can be detected in your breath. [1,2]

Treatment for SIBO is antibiotics along with correction or treatment of the cause when possible. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove scar tissue or correct a twisted intestine. [1] SIBO may return and require another treatment with a different type of antibiotic. [2]


A diet that reduces the foods that create gas when broken down by bacteria in the small intestine may be helpful along with another treatment. ACG says that the only diet supported by research so far is the low FODMAP diet. Probiotics are not helpful and may make SIBO worse. [2]

If your doctor diagnoses malnutrition from SIBO, you may need to take nutritional supplements like vitamin B-12, other vitamins, calcium, or iron supplements. In some cases, damage to your small intestine may cause you to lose the ability to digest the milk protein lactose. Therefore, you may need to avoid food products with lactose. [1]

According to Johns Hopkins University, the FODMAP diet is used to treat SIBO, but it is not a diet that you can pick up from a book or the internet and try on your own. Low FODMAP is a temporary diet that eliminates certain types of sugars that are not well absorbed in the small intestine. After the elimination phase, sugars are reintroduced gradually to find out which ones trigger your symptoms. This is a restrictive and complicated diet, so it is important to work with a dietician or a doctor familiar with the FODMAP diet for SIBO. [3]

Bottom Line on SIBO and a SIBO Diet

Symptoms of SIBO are common and be caused by many intestinal problems. If you have intestinal symptoms that last or keep coming back, let your doctor know. If you are diagnosed with SIBO, a SIBO diet such as FODMAP may help as part of a doctor managed treatment plan. [1-3]


[1] Mayo Clinic, Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic

[2] American Journal of Gastroenterology, ACG Clinical Guideline: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowt… : Official journal of the American College of Gastroenterology | ACG (

[3] Johns Hopkins, FODMAP Diet: What You Need to Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine

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Chris Iliades, MD

Dr. Chris Iliades is board-certified in Ear, Nose and Throat and Head and Neck Surgery from the American Board of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. He holds a medical … Read More

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