What is the SIBO Bi-Phasic Diet?

Last updated: November 2020

One of my big IBS-C symptoms was bloating immediately after eating. Sometimes the bloating would start while I was still eating a meal and sometimes within an hour or so after eating. The bloating might then (if I was lucky) go down in a couple of hours, or stay that way for the rest of the day.

Over the years I had tried many different treatment options to manage my IBS, including the low FODMAP diet and the paleo diet but nothing “cured” it, I just learnt to manage it. Then I looked into whether I might have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and guess what, a breath test showed that I did (you can read about that experience here). My naturopath explained that the overgrowth was the likely cause of my IBS-C because the little critters were producing methane gas which was leading to constipation and they were producing gas when the food entered the small intestine from the stomach, hence the immediate bloating after eating!

So I began an antimicrobial treatment prescribed by my naturopath and also started the SIBO Bi-Phasic Diet.

What kind of diets are used to treat SIBO?

There are many diets prescribed for treating SIBO specifically. According to Dr. Allison Siebecker (a naturopathic doctor that specializes in SIBO), SIBO diets aim to starve the bacteria to reduce their numbers and this is achieved by reducing the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed. Carbohydrates that are absorbed quickly are ok as they don’t have time to be fermented by the bacteria, and insoluble fibre is ok too as this is not consumed by the bacteria either. She notes that diet combined with antibiotics or herbal antimicrobial treatment can work together to reduce symptoms and provide relief. Dr Siebecker notes that some of the diets established and prescribed by practitioners at the moment are:

  • SIBO Specific Food Guide
  • Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
  • SIBO Bi-Phasic Diet
  • Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS)
  • Low FODMAP Diet
  • Cedars-Sinai Diet (C-SD)
  • Elemental Diet

The SIBO Bi-Phasic Diet

The diet my practitioner prescribed was the SIBO Bi-Phasic Diet developed by Dr Nirala Jacobi, an American naturopathic doctor based in Australia. You can find a copy of the diet here.

It was explained to me that it contains two phases: Phase 1 – Reduce and Repair (4-6 weeks) and Phase 2 – Remove and Restore (4-6 weeks).

Phase 1 aims to reduce the fermentable carbohydrates so that bacteria stave and begin to die off and also aims to repair the lining of the intestines as the digestive process improves.

Phase 2 aims to remove the overgrowth at the same time as treatment is prescribed and restore the motility of the small intestine, and is less restricted than Phase 1.

What kind of foods are in or out?

Meat, fish, poultry and eggs are in, along with various vegetables and some fruit, black coffee and tea, some nuts and seeds, rice and quinoa, oils and fats.

Dairy, white and sweet potato, some fruit and vegetables, wheat and other grains, peanuts, artificial sweeteners are out.

All of them have specific serving sizes you can eat per day and per meal.

Did it make a difference to my symptoms?

Short answer. Yes! This diet may not suit everyone’s needs and it was very restrictive and difficult to stick to at times as it was really difficult to eat out at restaurants and cafes, but within a week I had no bloating at all!

It may not be the answer for everyone, but if you are being treated for SIBO it could be one of the many diets you discuss with your practitioner, and I really hope it does help some people find some relief!

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