Short Gut Syndrome Diet – Dietary Guidelines On What To Eat

 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

short gut syndrome diet

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Short Gut Syndrome?

It’s a difficult disease to live with, but there are ways it can be mitigated and manageable. Our diet plays a huge role in how well we feel and our quality of life, so I’ve written this article to share guidelines on the short gut syndrome diet that has worked for my clients.

What Is Short Bowel Syndrome

To give you an idea on what short gut syndrome is, it is a congenital defect that results in Intestinal Malrotation. It can be present at birth but usually only becomes noticeable when the intestines reach a certain point in their development.

It is possible to live your life with Short Gut Syndrome and not experience any symptoms at all. However, if you do experience symptoms they may be mild to severe depending on the severity of the defect and how much of your colon has been affected.

This is why choosing foods for short bowel syndrome is very crucial. The main symptom experienced by people suffering from this disease is the malabsorption of nutrients. This means that the individual is unable to absorb essential nutrients via vitamins and food. In this article, I will discuss my recommended diet for short bowel syndrome, and how you can couple this with the best digestive supplements.

Symptoms of Short Bowel Syndrome

Short Bowel Syndrome is a serious condition that can have a major impact on your day-to-day life, so understanding its symptoms and seeking help from your doctor if you experience any of them is important.

Common symptoms of Short Bowel Syndrome include:

  • Intestinal cramping and pain
  • Fatty stools that are greasy or hard to flush down the toilet
  • Bloating or gas
  • Diarrhea

Less common and more severe symptoms include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Nausea that persists and doesn’t go away after vomiting, which can lead to dehydration
  • Unexplained weight loss

The next two sections will focus on the short bowel syndrome diet: what to eat, and what not to eat. Your diet and nutrition are very important when you have short bowel syndrome (SBS). SBS is a condition where your body can’t digest food the way it used to. It might be because you had surgery to remove part of your small intestine, or because you were born with a shorter small intestine.

The human digestive system is made up of:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum)
  • Large intestine (colon)

When people have SBS, they don’t have enough of their small intestine anymore. This means that their bodies can’t absorb nutrients and fluids the same way they did before. This is why awareness on the relationship of short bowel syndrome and nutrition is paramount, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to what you eat and drink.

Here is a menu for short bowel syndrome that you can use a quick reference:

Short Bowel Syndrome Diet – Dietary Guidelines (What To Eat)

Eat Small Meals

Eating smaller meals more frequently is better than eating fewer large meals if you have short gut syndrome, because your body is at risk of developing a serious condition called “dumping syndrome” if you eat too much or eat certain kinds of food.

portion eating

Dumping syndrome occurs when food moves through your digestive system too quickly, and can cause discomfort and other symptoms. Eating small meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar balanced, which may make it easier to notice if dumping syndrome is occurring.

Eat Food High in Proteins and Other Nutrients

One of the advantages of eating food that is high in protein, vitamins, and other nutrients is that it can help you stay healthy while you have short gut syndrome. When your small intestine is shortened, your body may not be able to absorb nutrients as well as it normally would.

Eating foods high in protein can help replace the proteins that your body can’t absorb. The body will take better advantage of the proteins you do absorb by making sure that you are giving it a constant supply throughout the day.

To help you figure out the best diet for you, check out the list of foods below:

  • Meat – Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey
  • Seafood – Fish, shellfish
  • Eggs – Whole eggs and egg whites
  • Dairy – Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Vegetables – Spinach, kale, cabbage
  • Fruits – Bananas, apples

Chew Your Food Well

Chewing food thoroughly helps your digestive system work at its optimal levels: chewing more = smaller bites and less work for the stomach. That means you’ll be able to get the nutrients you need from food without going through as much pain and discomfort.

If you don’t chew your food well and you let your food sit in your stomach for too long without breaking it down into smaller chunks, the digestive process takes longer and uses up more of your body’s resources. And that means less energy left over for all the other amazing things you accomplish every day.

Include a Lot of Liquids in Your Diet

If you are living with short gut syndrome, you may have been told to follow a low-fiber diet. This can be challenging if you rely on high-fiber foods like whole grains and legumes as part of your regular diet.

Finding foods that are soft, low in fiber, and healthy can be difficult. One way to increase the amount of nutrients you get from food is to include liquids (such as shakes or smoothies) that contain a balance of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fat.

What to Drink

Whether you’re just starting to explore a diet for short gut syndrome or are a seasoned veteran of SGS, you probably have a lot of questions about what to drink. I get it—water can get boring fast, and you’re probably curious about what other options there are. We’ve put together this guide so you can make the most of your drinking life!

adding water into a tumbler

Water. Let’s start with the basics: water is the best beverage for people with SGS. Since your body cannot absorb many nutrients from food, you need plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out excess waste in your system. Let’s take a look at some ways to make water exciting!

Infuse Your Water. Want some flavor without adding calories? Try adding fruit or vegetables to your water! You can add fruits like strawberries and raspberries, or veggies like cucumbers and celery.

You can even mix and match different flavors for delicious combinations like strawberry lemonade or raspberry limeade. Just remember that these flavors don’t last very long, so you’ll want to drink your infused water quickly if you start to notice that the taste is fading!

What Not to Drink

When it comes to setting yourself up for success with your short gut syndrome treatment plan, there’s a lot to consider. But one of the most underrated decisions you can make is what to drink—because not all drinks are created equal in terms of their impact on your digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Here are 5 drinks that you should steer clear of:

1. Dark soda

2. Coffee and tea

3. Juices (except apple juice)

4. Alcoholic beverages

5. Milk and milk-based drinks

Avoiding these drinks can help you keep your diet on track and help you feel your best while treating short gut syndrome!

Include Fiber in Your Diet

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, and people with short gut syndrome are no exception! High-fiber foods help keep your digestive system working properly, which is key for people with short gut syndrome, so make sure to include plenty of fiber in your diet.

You can get more fiber into your diet by eating whole grains, legumes (like beans and peas), fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds. You can also get fiber by adding dried fruit to hot cereal or salads.

Include Supplements

Include supplements such as Optima that are packed with natural ingredients to help you further take care of your tummy through your own colon cleanse at home.If you are looking for more alternatives to cleansing your stomach, you can also check out this article I wrote on the best mushroom for gut health.

If you are looking for more alternatives to cleansing your stomach, you can also check out this article I wrote on the best mushroom for gut health.

Short Bowel Syndrome Diet – What To Avoid


Wheat is a common element in many of the foods we eat, but, like all grains, it can be difficult for people with short gut syndrome to digest. Wheat contains a type of fiber called fructans. Fructans are commonly found in many plant-based foods and may contribute to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in people who have difficulty digesting them.

The typical Western diet is high in fructans because wheat products are everywhere. Rye, barley and wheat all contain fructans, so you should avoid breads, noodles and pastas made from these grains. Avoid all packaged cereals—these are often made from wheat or oats and will cause you discomfort if you have short gut syndrome.

Whole-wheat bread


One of the foods that you should avoid as a person with short gut syndrome is whole-grain foods. These foods can be difficult for your body to digest, and while you still need to include fiber in your diet, whole-grain foods contain an excessive amount of fiber that can cause problems in your digestive system.

Wheat Bran

Avoid wheat bran as much as you can. It is an important source of fiber, but aside from excessive fiber than your gut would require, it’s also a common allergen, there are many other foods that will give you fiber without the allergic reaction risk.


With short gut syndrome, you’re not able to digest some types of foods, which can make it difficult to keep your blood sugar levels low. If you have short gut syndrome, one of the most important things you can do is avoid foods that are high in sugar. Your body will have trouble processing them, which can lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels and cause complications.


When you eat salty food, your body responds by releasing water from its stores into your bloodstream. It does this so that the concentration of salt in your blood stays more or less the same.

But if you have short gut syndrome and your body is already not absorbing all the water it needs from food, eating salty foods can lead to dangerous levels of dehydration. That’s why it’s important for people who suffer from short gut syndrome to avoid salty foods.


People with short gut syndrome should follow a strict diet because it can improve their digestion and absorption, help with weight regulation, reduce nausea and vomiting, and promote a healthier lifestyle. If you have a short gut syndrome, you are not alone. There are lots of patient organizations that provide resources to help with the day-to-day living with this condition.

I hope that this article helps you better understand why it is important to follow a strict diet if you have short gut syndrome. If you’re struggling with these issues, or if you’d like to learn more about this degenerative disorder, join our group and be surrounded by supportive people! See you in the community!

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