WARNING- THIS DIET MAY BE TOO LOW CARBOHYDRATE AND CAUSE ADDITIONAL COMPLICATIONS.
The elimination diet was the first successful diet protocol to really control my symptoms. It is highly restrictive and is an attempt to starve the bacteria causing SIBO, without starving the person (although that second part was a challenge for me- I dropped 10 pounds unintentionally).
The good news- my digestive symptoms improved substantially!
The bad news- it is not healthy long-term: I am concerned that it requires too much protein (as indicated by my high Urea Nitrogen level and BUN/Creatinine ratio after following it for two weeks) to get a high enough caloric intake without feeding the bacteria. The elimination diet also has very limited diversity which can contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies (which are likely already a factor if you have SIBO). It is also very time-consuming, expensive, and mentally challenging (but hey, that’s a good thing, too!).
Basically, I ate the following (adapted from Aglaée Jacobs’ elimination diet):
- Vegetables: zucchini, carrots, and green beans (all have to be thoroughly cooked & preferably puréed- YUCK!)
- Oils/Fats: olive oil, garlic-infused olive oil (as long as it does not contain garlic pieces or chunks), ghee, coconut oil
- Protein: most unprocessed meats and fish including, but not limited to, beef, bison, lamb, yak, salmon, steelhead, cod, sardines (I eliminated pork- at the recommendation of my doctor- but Jacobs’ protocol allows it); Homemade meat broth (without garlic or onions)
- Spices: ginger, turmeric, rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano, sage, salt, 100% pure lemon or lime juice, green onions, cilantro
- Beverages: herbal tea (lemongrass, rooibos, mint, holy basil, marshmallow root, and ginger) and water (total fluid intake 1/2 body weight)
If you plan to follow the elimination diet, I would highly recommend purchasing Aglaée Jacobs’ book and working closely with a naturopathic physician (ND). The book will help you understand why certain foods make you react while others do not. The naturopath will make sure that it is appropriate for your specific situation and can address any problems that arise.
I did not learn about nightshades until I read Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. She does a great job explaining why they are problematic. Essentially, for individuals with SIBO, nightshades such as bell peppers and tomatoes cause inflammation. In order to heal your gut, inflammation needs to be reduced. Learn more about nightshades and get a complete list of foods that fall into this category here. The elimination diet avoids nightshades.