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The Low FODMAP Diet Warning for IBS and SIBO Sufferers

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The payoff of the FODMAP diet is reduced gas, bloating, and cramping. The cost is that you forevermore avoid a long list of otherwise beneficial foods.

Recently, the Low FODMAP Diet has received significant attention for reducing symptoms of gut disorders.

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.

It describes foods that contain specific carbohydrates that are not always easily absorbed.

Examples of high FODMAP foods include fermentable:

  • Oligosaccharides: Jerusalem artichoke, cabbage, onion, and garlic.
  • Disaccharides: Cow or goat milk.
  • Monosaccharides: Apples, peaches, mangos, and pears.
  • Polyols: Avocados, apricots, prunes, snow peas, and xylitol.

These carbohydrates can end up fermenting in the intestines, leading to signs of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

Woman Suffering From Stomach Ache

The Low FODMAP Diet can help to calm IBS and SIBO over the short-term. Restoring the inner ecosystem is the only true solution for long-term digestive health.

Signs of IBS and SIBO include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Distention and heaviness

Studies observing how diet affects signs of IBS and SIBO show that avoiding high FODMAP foods can reduce signs of IBS, like belly bloat and cramping. (1)

Professor Peter Gibson and his colleagues at Monash University in Melbourne originally developed the FODMAP diet to help alleviate signs of IBS. In 2014, a major medical journal, Gastroenterology, featured Professor Gibson’s work with the FODMAP diet. (2)

According to Professor Gibson and researchers at Monash University, the low FODMAP diet has dramatically helped patients. In fact, researchers have seen 68–76% improvement of IBS symptoms. (3)

Is the Low FODMAP Diet Safe Over the Long-Term?

While avoiding high FODMAP trigger foods will cut back on signs of IBS, new findings by researchers in May 2014 pointed to possible drawbacks:

“There may be potential detrimental effects of the diet in the long term, due to potential changes to the gastrointestinal microbiota… Future research should focus on the relevance of changes to the microbiota and ways to liberalize the dietary restrictions.”

A low FODMAP diet restricts foods that feed bacteria in the gut.

So without adding in probiotic-rich fermented foods—like cultured vegetables and kefir—the inner ecosystem may not have an opportunity to rebuild. The same researchers that developed the FODMAP diet emphasize the need to eventually remove restrictions on the diet. This means reintroducing high FODMAP foods. They also emphasize the need to focus on the inner ecosystem of the gut.

Fixing the Flaws in the Low FODMAP Diet with the Body Ecology Diet

When it comes to diet, avoiding a trigger food only removes the problem. It doesn’t heal the root of the disorder. While the payoff of the FODMAP diet is reduced gas, bloating, and cramping—the cost is that you forevermore avoid a long list of otherwise beneficial foods (like cabbage, garlic, and raw dairy).

Symptoms of IBS and SIBO are messages from your body. These messages are telling you that the environment within the body is wounded and that it needs repair.

If you want to follow the FODMAP diet, we suggest also adding in small amounts of fermented foods.

Many cultured foods are inherently high in FODMAPs—like the cabbage you’ll find in sauerkraut and kimchee, or the dairy you will find in dairy kefir. But fortunately, these foods are also fermented, which means they are pre-digested. They will be easier to digest than unfermented high FODMAP foods.

To be sure, follow these steps when combining the FODMAP diet with the Body Ecology Diet:

  1. Start by introducing 1–2 tablespoons of the juice from a batch of homemade fermented veggies. This “liquid gold” contains active probiotics that soothe inflammation and rebalance the inner ecosystem of the gut.
  2. Before jumping into traditional milk kefir, we suggest you begin with coconut water kefir. Coconut water kefir is hypoallergenic and cooling to an inflamed gut.
  3. Begin including fermented foods or probiotic beverages with every meal.
  4. Once you decide to reintroduce dairy, we suggest that you culture it with a kefir starter. Use goat milk as the proteins in goat milk are hypoallergenic.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

The Low FODMAP Diet has made recent headlines for its ability to reduce symptoms of gut disorders. The diet avoids specific carbohydrates that are not easily absorbed—like cabbage, onion, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, apples, and avocados—to calm SIBO and IBS.

However, researchers caution against the Low FODMAP Diet for long-term use as it may change the microbiota of the gut. Without probiotic-rich fermented foods like cultured vegetables and kefir in the diet, the inner ecosystem will remain wounded.

For the best results, combine the Low FODMAP Diet with the Body Ecology Diet in four easy steps:

  1. Introduce 1-2 tablespoons of homemade fermented veggie juice to soothe inflammation and rebalance the gut.
  2. Start with coconut water kefir before traditional milk kefir; it is hypoallergenic and cooling to an inflamed gut.
  3. Enjoy fermented foods or probiotic beverages at every meal.
  4. Reintroduce dairy when you are ready with hypoallergenic, cultured goat’s milk made from a kefir starter.
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  1. Magge, S., & Lembo, A. (2012). Low-FODMAP diet for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol. Hepatol, 8(11), 739-745.
  2. Halmos, E. P., Power, V. A., Shepherd, S. J., Gibson, P. R., & Muir, J. G. (2014). A diet low in FODMAPs reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology, 146(1), 67-75.
  3. Tuck, C. J., Muir, J. G., Barrett, J. S., & Gibson, P. R. (2014). Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols: role in irritable bowel syndrome. Expert review of gastroenterology & hepatology, (0), 1-16.


  • Corinne says:

    I am currently working with a naturopath on my SIBO, and he is having me follow the Autoimmune Protocol Diet while doing my treatment (I started on a low-FODMAP diet on my own and also felt awful- exhausted, etc). He is treating me with herbs instead of antibiotics as they have longer-term rates of cure. However, it's a 2-3 month treatment cycle.

    He told me that if you do a low-FODMAP diet during the SIBO treatment, the SIBO goes into 'hibernation' and can't be as effectively treated. When I went back to the AIP, I immediately regained energy and felt so much better.

    Posted on Jan 25 at 8:52 am

  • Russell Bergener says:

    Like you all I tested high in SIBO. A positive test is above 20, mine was 85. What I have found is that a diet that is good for IBS is not necessarily good for SIBO. They are different issues, even though there is some over lap. Michele, you may not have completely knocked out the SIBO by the antibiotic. If you start back onto probiotics and the bacterial over growth is still there, you will just be feeding it again. Did you retest to see what your SIBO was prior to going onto pro-biotics? If not, that is your nest step. I am assuming that you took xifaxan (rifaximin). Along with that you would need to be on a special diet during and after taking the antibiotic. This is all a new field of medicine, so Doctors are still learning, and will have varying opinions.

    Posted on Oct 23 at 1:43 pm

  • Michele Dye says:

    I have been diagnoised with SIBO. I have been on the low fodmap diet for 5 weeks. I have taken the antibiotic for the first 2 weeks as prescribed by my doctor. I am now into my third week of probiotics. I am just miserable. I fell worse now than I did before I started the treatment. Can anyone tell me how long before I start to feel better or any suggestions on what I can do to get some relief? Thank you

    Posted on Jul 23 at 9:53 am

  • Jeanne T./Life Coach/Hawaii says:

    What about the other FODMAP foods you listed in your recent article--
    Beans and lentils
    Wheat, onions, and cabbage
    Fruit, agave, and honey
    Some of these weren't mentioned at all in this article. I'm confused. Please help!

    Posted on Jun 26 at 2:45 pm

  • Cheryl says:

    I'd like to point out that Constipation is also a symptom of SIBO, because I've been dx'd with SIBO and have the worst Constipation you can imagine.

    And I don't understand what the ecosystem has to do with it because I've read that the bacteria are not in the large colon where they should be. The bowel transit time has to be fixed somehow, which is a muscle issue, if that is the case, and I do have multisystem muscle issues. Also, I've read not to use a lot of probiotics but kefir really makes my stomach feel better, so I don't know, unless they are wrong about the bacteria being in the wrong place. However they need to fix the problem...the fodmap diet is not a fix.

    Posted on Jun 26 at 6:32 am

  • Anastasia says:

    My teeth become very sensitive after eating fermented cabbage and carrots. I'm not sure why this is. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Posted on Jun 26 at 5:39 am

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