Whats up with all the acronyms today- FODMAP….. SIBO
If you’re using a low-FODMAP diet to keep your SIBO under control, you’re not alone.
However, diet on its own does not cure SIBO. In fact, eating a higher-FODMAP diet for a prolonged period of time can change the microbial diversity or the richness of the gut microbiome.
A low-FODMAP (or low-carbohydrate) diet will keep symptoms under control simply by starving the bacteria in your small intestine. When these bacteria don’t have food to eat, they aren’t able to metabolize that food and produce gas as a result.
This gas is what causes the common symptoms of SIBO—bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea (in the case of hydrogen gas), and constipation (in the case of methane gas)
Starving the bacteria over the short term does not eradicate the bacteria, which is what we’re trying to accomplish, as the small intestine is not supposed to contain much bacteria. If you continue this restriction for a long period of time in an effort to kill the bacteria, you’re also starving the bacteria in your large intestine that should be there and that play a vital role in your health.
Simply put, a low-FODMAP or low-carb diet does not eradicate an overgrowth in the small intestine in a short period of time, and continuing on a long-term low-FODMAP/carbohydrate diet in an effort to starve the bacteria to death has potential detrimental effects on the bacteria in the large intestine.
I have had clients who have been on long-term low-FODMAP diets prior to working with me who still have positive breath tests for SIBO despite their restricted diet. There is a difference between controlling symptoms and actually clearing the bacteria. We want to do the latter, which has the added benefit of improving symptoms as well.
The Negative Impact of a Long-Term Low-FODMAP Diet
There have been limited studies on the long-term impact of low-FODMAP diets on microbial balance in the large intestine. The studies we have showing the impact of short-term FODMAP restriction on the microbiome, however, do not bode well for the long-term implications.
FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates that help to feed the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. When you begin to think about them this way, it becomes a lot easier to understand why adhering to a diet low in the substrates that our healthy gut bacteria thrive on may not be a great idea.
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