If you have been diagnosed with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), you may have heard about the low-FODMAP diet as a potential treatment option. But what exactly is the low-FODMAP diet and how can it help with SIBO?
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs are a type of carbohydrate found in certain foods that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They include fermentable oligosaccharides (such as fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides), disaccharides (such as lactose), monosaccharides (such as fructose), and polyols (such as sorbitol and xylitol). When these carbohydrates are not properly absorbed, they can ferment in the intestine and cause symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.
The Low-FODMAP Diet
The low-FODMAP diet involves eliminating high-FODMAP foods from the diet and gradually reintroducing them to identify which ones trigger symptoms. This can be a helpful tool for managing digestive issues like SIBO, as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other functional gastrointestinal disorders.
To start the low-FODMAP diet, you will need to eliminate high-FODMAP foods for a period of time, typically 6-8 weeks. This includes foods like wheat, garlic, onions, beans, apples, and dairy products. You can find a complete list of high-FODMAP foods on the Monash University Low-FODMAP app, or work with a registered dietitian who is trained in the low-FODMAP diet.
Once the elimination phase is complete, you can start the reintroduction phase. This involves adding back one type of FODMAP at a time, in small amounts, and monitoring your symptoms. For example, you may start with fructooligosaccharides and add back small amounts of foods like asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, and chickpeas. If you do not experience any symptoms, you can move on to the next type of FODMAP. If you do experience symptoms, you will need to avoid that type of FODMAP and come back to it once you have undergone further gut repair work.
It is important to note that the low-FODMAP diet is not a long-term solution for SIBO. It is typically used as a tool to help reduce symptoms while going through a treatment protocol and while while working with a healthcare provider to address the underlying cause of SIBO. Read more about the top 3 SIBO treatment options here.
Who can help you follow a Low-FODMAP Diet?
If you are considering the low-FODMAP diet for SIBO, it is important to work with a registered dietitian, nutritionist or healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about the diet and can help you implement it safely and effectively. They can also help you plan a balanced diet that meets your nutritional needs while following the low-FODMAP guidelines.
In summary, the low-FODMAP diet is a useful tool for managing symptoms of SIBO and other digestive disorders by eliminating and gradually reintroducing certain types of carbohydrates. It is not a long-term solution and should be implemented under the guidance of a healthcare professional.