The Elemental Diet and SIBO Treatment
What is the Elemental Diet?
The fastest, and perhaps the most effective treatment for SIBO is following a strict elemental diet for 14 – 21 days.
The elemental diet is a powdered formula you mix in water which replaces your normal meals.
The formula provides all the essential nutrients humans need to live broken down into their simplest forms to make them easily and rapidly absorbed. For protein you have individual amino acids, for carbohydrates fast absorbing simple sugars like dextrose, for fat MCT powder from coconut oil, and then your essential vitamins and minerals.
For 14 – 21 days the shakes are the only ‘food’ you ingest.
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- The latest research on the causes of IBS.
- Which foods you should be avoiding (for now).
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How does the Elemental Diet treat SIBO?
There are a few mechanisms thought to be involved in how the elemental diet helps eliminate bacteria from the small intestine:
- By ingesting only the elemental diet all of your nutrients are absorbed in the top 3 foot of the small intestine leaving no substrate for the bacteria to feed on, eventually they starve out or migrate back to the large intestine.
- Ingestion of the elemental diet has been shown to increase production of cholecystokinin (CCK) which in turn stimulates the gallbladder to release bile. Bile has stimula-tory effects on phase III of the migrating motor complex(1). Phase III, otherwise known as the “intestinal house-keeper” is a cycling wavefront responsible for cleansing the small bowel between meals (2). The absence of phaseIII is known to result in small intestinal bacterial coloniza-tion (3-6).
- Other data suggests the elemental diet can promote secretions of immunoglobulins in the small intestine. This strengthens gut immunity which fights against the bacteria and prevents their adhesion to the gut lining.
A study done by Dr Mark Pimentel in 93 IBS patients with abnormal lactulose breath tests suggesting small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, found that after 21 days 79 patients (85%) had normalised breath test results and improved symptom scores.
There are also other benefits of the elemental diet on the GI tract – the digestive system gets a break from performing its many functions, allowing it to rest and regenerate. Because no foods are being ingested, your gut also gets a break from food intolerances and irritants.
The elemental diet also reduces gut inflammation. This has been found especially in patients with Crohn’s disease.
The Elemental Diet is the most effective and fastest way I have seen to lower or eliminate bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO).
As part of a holistic approach to treating SIBO the Elemental Diet is a viable option if it suits your circumstances.
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