An elemental diet for 14-21 days has also been shown to be effective in improving bowel symptoms and eradicating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). When individuals were tested on day 15, 80% of them showed resolution of SIBO. When the elemental diet was continued in individuals who still had SIBO on day 15, by day 21, there was an 85% cumulative resolution of symptoms. An elemental diet is a pre-digested formula in liquid form or a powder that is mixed with water. In addition to vitamins and minerals, this formula contains protein, fat, and carbohydrates that have been broken down into their building blocks – amino acids, fatty acids, and sugars, respectively. Because the nutrients are absorbed into the body easily, the bacteria are “starved”, and their activity and proliferation are reduced.
The downsides of the elemental diet are that it can be challenging to implement, as no regular food is consumed for the duration of this diet, it can be costly, and it can result in unintended weight loss if caloric needs aren’t met.
The advantage of the elemental diet is that it can be an effective way to treat SIBO while avoiding the use of antibiotics. It can be especially helpful in individuals who have not responded to antibiotics, or individuals who have contraindications for use of certain antibiotics or antimicrobial herbs.
Physicians’ elemental diet is a hypoallergenic formula that provides 14-21 day programs. It is recommended that an elemental diet for SIBO be implemented and supervised by your healthcare practitioner.
After the elemental diet, it is important to continue to maintain remission. This is often done with the use of a prokinetic agent. Some practitioners treat with antibiotics after the elemental diet. Some individuals may choose to do an elemental diet periodically, to reduce their bacterial overgrowth and SIBO symptoms.
If you live in New York, CA, CT, or NJ and have documented SIBO or have symptoms of it, including bloating, gas, nausea, abdominal discomfort or cramping, diarrhea, or constipation, call our practice at 646.627.8000 or contact us here for a complimentary discovery call with Dr. Bojana Jankovic Weatherly. Our team would love to answer your questions about how the elemental diet helps to treat SIBO.