The AIP, or autoimmune protocol, is designed to help those with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes reduce inflammatory symptoms. When it comes to gut health, it’s known for its health benefits for those with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s and colitis. But what type of diet should those with digestive conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) follow to feel better? Let’s look at what SIBO and how the AIP may help.

What is SIBO?

The technical definition of SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a condition in which the bacteria in the gut is equal to or greater than 105 colony forming unit per mL of upper gut aspirate. Put simply, when the balance of bacteria in the gut is off, then a person may experience symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

A little about AIP

AIP, or the autoimmune protocol, is an eating regimen that research shows may help those with digestive conditions like inflammatory bowel disease as well as other autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. It’s based on the paleolithic diet that avoids such foods as grains and dairy. However, the AIP diet is a bit more restricted. Here are some of the basic tenets of the AIP diet.

  • Avoid any and all grains
  • No legumes, beans, or peas
  • Do not consume any nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers
  • Stay away from any dairy products
  • Avoid certain proteins such as eggs, nuts, and seeds
  • Do not drink any coffee or alcoholic beverages
  • No refined/processed sugars, oils, and food additives

This diet protocol is very restrictive, but this very restrictive elimination phase usually only lasts about 30 to 60 days. Thereafter, the maintenance phase is a time where people can slowly add in foods that have been avoided to test the body’s tolerance. It’s thought that by the end of the maintenance phase, a person should know what foods they can and cannot tolerate to prevent digestive distress symptoms long-term.


Research shows that a lot of people that have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also have SIBO. So, does this mean that eating regimens that help those with IBS could also help those with SIBO? Possibly. This is because the gut microbiota is thought to be a vital role in supporting the epithelial layer of the gut. Therefore, if there is inflammation in the gut or gut barrier, like with SIBO, then this could lead to leaky gut, and in turn may trigger autoimmune conditions. So, this autoimmune link could help those with SIBO heal their gut and perhaps prevent autoimmune conditions in the gut like IBD.

If you find that the AIP alone does not help reduce your symptoms, then a combined diet may help. Since SIBO is often found in those with IBS, then a combined AIP and low FODMAP diet could be effective. Therefore, visit Casa de Sante to learn more about how you can incorporate these two gut healing eating regimens into your daily routine.

Take home message

The AIP can be an effective healing regimen for those with IBD like those with Crohn’s or colitis. However, that’s not where the health benefits end for this therapeutic diet. Research shows that there may be a connection between gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, and autoimmune conditions, thus showing that the AIP diet may be helpful to just about anyone with a gut health condition such as with SIBO. Therefore, if you suffer from SIBO, and standard treatments such as antibiotics are not helping with all your symptoms, then the AIP may be an effective addition to your SIBO treatment plan.

 -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD of


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