SIBO And Fermented Foods

There is a common misconception that fermented foods are not beneficial for those with small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO. Even worse, many are led to believe that SIBO and fermented foods are mutually exclusive, and that fermented foods are detrimental to those who have SIBO. But this could not be further from the truth!

The truth is that fermented foods can and I would argue should be a part of your journey to heal from SIBO. Here are several reasons why!

Fermented foods are predigested, or broken down.

One of the main benefits of fermented foods is that the fermenting happens in the fermenting vessel. What this means is that complex compounds are broken down into simpler compounds that are easier for your body to handle. This includes carbohydrates, sugars, sulphur compounds, and more.

If you have heard of diets like FODMAP, they work by eliminating “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.” The good thing about fermented foods is that they eliminate many of the reasons you have to avoid perfectly healthy foods. The food ferments outside of the body, so that it does not overwhelm your system.

Fermented foods are one of the best ways to get probiotics.

SIBO is characterized by an overgrowth of bad bacteria. One of the best ways to combat this is with yeast and bacteria that crowd out the bad, and allow the good to thrive. Good bacteria also create a host of beneficial compounds, including vitamins and minerals, that are essential for good gut health. These compounds include vitamins like B12 and minerals like iron, which are both important for a healthy gut that promotes the proper balance of bacteria and yeast.

Fermented foods also have much higher quantities of probiotics than the pills you buy in store. They are filled with numerous beneficial vitamins and minerals, including the wide array of B vitamins, vitam C, vitamin K2, etc. These nutrients are much easier to absorb from fermented foods than regular food as well.

What Fermented Foods Are Best For SIBO?

One of the most beneficial foods I’ve found for SIBO is milk kefir. If you are unable to handle dairy, then don’t put yourself in harms way by drinking lots of milk kefir. However, there are things you can try so that you may eventually be able to tolerate it.

One of those things is trying a diet like GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). This diet helps you eliminate foods that cause you issues, determine which foods specifically are an issue for you, and then help you with re-introducing foods in a way that makes sense for your body. This diet has allowed many to consume foods that once caused them allergic reactions, such as eggs and dairy. If you have extreme allergies, you may need to work with a doctor as you introduce certain foods.

Why I love milk kefir is that it is virtually dairy-free, has complete protein, has beneficial calcium that is easy for your body to absorb. Milk kefir has all the amino acids you need to build a strong gut.

Milk kefir is also one of the few probiotics that can actually change your gut’s bacterial make-up after a few months of regular consumption. It is a powerful aid against many strains of bad bacteria, and directly combats pathogenic yeasts such as Candida albicans, keeping overgrowths in check. Milk kefir is even beneficial against Streptococcus and Escherichia coli (which can cause diarrhea and urinary tract infections!).

I personally believe the whole range of fermented foods are beneficial for SIBO. Some will be easier to tolerate at the beginning of your journey than others, such as milk kefir, water kefir, fermented brines and juices. But sauerkraut, dill pickles, fermented carrots, onions and kimchi, are all beneficial for healing from SIBO.

Additionally, you want to make sure your fermented foods are made properly. This means fermenting them in anaerobic chambers. Anaerobic chambers are generally made with an airlock on top, such as Pickl-It jars and Harsch crocks. The taste difference is amazing, but most importantly, oxygen doesn’t hang out in these chambers, reducing the possibility of mold and other pathogens in your ferments.