Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been implicated in symptoms associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), though mechanisms remain poorly defined and treatment involves non-specific antibiotics. Here we show that SIBO based on duodenal aspirate culture reflects an overgrowth of anaerobes, does not correspond with patient symptoms, and may be a result of dietary preferences. Small intestinal microbial composition, on the other hand, is significantly altered in symptomatic patients and does not correspond with aspirate culture results. In a pilot interventional study we found that switching from a high fiber diet to a low fiber, high simple sugar diet triggered FGID-related symptoms and decreased small intestinal microbial diversity while increasing small intestinal permeability. Our findings demonstrate that characterizing small intestinal microbiomes in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms may allow a more targeted antibacterial or a diet-based approach to treatment.