I often get asked, "Isn't the SIBO diet basically the same as the Paleo diet?" My answer is, "It's not that simple."
The Paleo diet was created based on what we believe humans were eating back when all they could do was hunt and gather their food. It allows for eating all natural meats and seafood, all parts of the animal, but no dairy. It allows for any fruit or vegetable, nut or seed that could theoretically be found in nature by taking a walk. That eliminates all cultivated foods such as grains. It is not based on any nutritional science of the foods allowed, and is often followed as a fad diet to become healthier. Not all fads are bad! The paleo diet is certainly a healthy diet because it virtually eliminates all processed, packaged, and "junk" food. Try making a doughnut without grains! And many people have successfully eradicated diseases following this diet.
The SIBO diet, on the other hand, is based on the types of carbohydrates or sugars in food. You see, bacteria love carbohydrates and they eat them through a process called fermentation. The more fermentable the carbs or sugars in a food are, the more they will cause digestive problems if you have SIBO. And it is not as black and white, with a yes and no food list, because SIBO patients can get away with having, for example, 1/4 cup of a certain green vegetable, but maybe not 3/4 cup. And of course, the specific goal of the SIBO diet is to stop feeding the bacteria, not to become healthier overall like the Paleo diet is often used for. Also, the SIBO diet is almost always used as part of a comprehensive SIBO treatment plan including antimicrobial therapy. I can't imagine this one ever becoming a fad!
With both diets, all grains are not allowed. This is where the similarity stops. The SIBO diet allows for some dairy, some legumes, and even peanuts. A very helpful food list guideline for the SIBO diet, compiled by Dr. Allison Siebecker, ND, can be found here. The gradation of foods from "most likely OK," to "maybe will cause some fermentation problems," to "most likely will cause some fermentation problems" makes it more of a trial and error on an individual basis. So you see, it's just not that simple!
Dr. Melissa DeForest: I am a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. My goal is to educate, inspire, and empower others to lead a life they love.
Disclaimer: All information presented here is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise, supplement, or diet routine.