SIBO and Elemental Diets: How They Can Help Improve Symptoms

SIBO and Elemental Diets: How They Can Help Improve Symptoms

Written by Element Gold

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition where an excessive amount of bacteria grows in the small intestine, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. SIBO can be challenging to diagnose and treat, and the use of elemental diets is one treatment approach that has shown promise.

Elemental diets are liquid diets that are comprised of amino acids, simple sugars, vitamins, and minerals. These diets provide all of the necessary nutrients for the body to function while limiting the amount of food available to the bacteria in the small intestine effectively starving the bacteria and reducing the bacterial load, leading to an improvement in symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that a 14-day elemental diet was highly effective in normalizing the lactulose breath test, which is used to diagnose SIBO. The study included 32 patients with SIBO who were treated with the elemental diet and showed a significant reduction in their SIBO symptoms.

In addition to elemental diets, elimination diets have also been shown to be effective in managing SIBO symptoms. An elimination diet involves removing specific foods from the diet that are known to exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms. A systematic review published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that elimination diets were effective in reducing symptoms in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition that shares many similarities with SIBO.  Although effective, elimination diets can be time-consuming to undertake and compliance may prove difficult in some cases.

Another approach to treating SIBO is the use of antibiotics, which can be effective in reducing bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. However, the use of antibiotics can also lead to the development of antibiotic resistance and other side effects. Elemental diets and elimination diets offer an alternative treatment approach that can be effective in managing SIBO symptoms while minimizing the risk of side effects.

SIBO is a condition that can cause a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, and the use of elemental diets and elimination diets can be effective in managing these symptoms. If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine if SIBO may be the underlying cause and to explore appropriate diagnostic and treatment options.


  1. Pimentel M, Constantino T, Kong Y, Bajwa M, Rezaei A, Park S. A 14-day elemental diet is highly effective in normalizing the lactulose breath test. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2014 Oct;48(9):797-802. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182a883ba. PMID: 24480939.
  2. Ianiro G, Rizzatti G, Plomer M, Lopetuso L, Scaldaferri F, Franceschi F, Gallerani M, Gasbarrini A, Cammarota G. Efficacy of different diets in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2015 Oct;30(10):1542-51. doi: 10.1111/jgh.13011. PMID: 25982757.
  3. Bures J, Cyrany J, Kohoutova D, et al. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 28;16(24):2978-90. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i24.2978. PMID: 20572300; PMCID: PMC288





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