You are here

Short Bowel Syndrome Diet

Short bowel syndrome diet is recommended for people suffering from short bowel syndrome, also known as SBS, short gut syndrome or simple short gut. The condition is generally caused by the surgical removal of the small intestine and is marked by mal-absorption. Sometimes, short gut is also caused by the total non-functionality of a huge segment of the bowel. Research has shown that most cases of the condition are acquired. Sometimes, however, children are born with a short bowel. For a short bowel syndrome to develop, at least 2/3rd of the small intestine should have been removed.

Sharp pain the abdomen, fatigue, weight loss and diarrhea are some of the most commonly observed symptoms of the condition. Treatment of short gut is generally carried out through a balance of healthy diet and medication, coupled with a mild exercise to promote better digestion. The main characteristic of the condition is a person's inability to properly absorb minerals and vitamins and a diet plan for the problem is designed based on this one fact.

Main Features of a Short Bowel Syndrome Diet

As a general rule, a diet plan for SBS is one which works towards making sure that there is no pressure on the digestive system. In addition, as there is malabsorption of essential nutrients, the diet aims at making sure that the body gets all the required vitamins and minerals so that there is no malnutrition. Although the diet plan for the condition is custom-made for a patient by the doctor and dietitian, there are some common factors:

Elimination/Strict Regulation of milk products: Heavy milk products like cheese, cottage cheese, tofu and butter irritate the digestive system and can aggravate the SBS symptoms. The consumption of these products, if at all, is highly controlled and low-fat alternatives are preferred. Milk consumption is encouraged as milk is high in essential nutrients. However, toned and fresh milk is favored over packaged milk which is high in fat content.

Elimination/Strict Regulation of foods high in carbohydrates: Although carbohydrates can be beneficial in some patients, foods high in carbohydrates content are generally not advised. Their consumption, if at all, is strictly controlled as carbs can aggravate the problem.

Fresh fruits and vegetables: Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is encouraged in a general short bowel syndrome diet. It is, however, important to note that some fruits and vegetables can irritate the digestive system and pressurize it. Therefore, it is important to include only those products in the diet which are easy to digest. Fresh produce is favored over canned and frozen goods.

Short Bowel Syndrome: Food to be Avoided

Fried foods, sugary desserts, foods rich in spices and oil, alcoholic beverages, cola drinks, coffee, tea and packaged juices are to be strictly avoided. Their consumption, if at all, is very controlled. Also, red meat is avoided and generally replaced with white meat which is softer.


To read more about what constitutes a short bowel syndrome diet and to know more about the condition, visit: