In this blog we’re discussing how bone broth helps SIBO symptoms. If you’re unsure what SIBO is, check out Part 1 of this blog, found here!
We know from Part 1 that SIBO can be a complex disorder, resulting from one or more of multiple causes and connected with other chronic health conditions. Treatment for SIBO involves addressing the SIBO itself, as well as addressing the specific cause(s) of SIBO. This is the only way to prevent SIBO from recurring. There are many supportive nutrients that help ease the symptoms of SIBO and can be included as part of treatment. One such support is found in bone broth.
Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones, usually beef or chicken bones, along with vegetables and spices, for several hours. The nutrients in these ingredients are leached into the water, creating a flavorful and nutritious broth. Bone broth is packed with various nutrients including several vitamins, minerals, and collagen. Drinking bone broth regularly helps support our health in many ways.
The collagen (specifically type II collagen) serves to protect our joints from the stress of continual use and increase bone density in post-menopausal women. It can also improve joint stiffness, pain, and joint function in those with osteoarthritis. Type I and type III collagen help improve skin hydration, elasticity, and minimize appearance of wrinkles. The amino acid, glycine, found in collagen, may improve sleep quality, regulate our circadian rhythm, and minimize fatigue during the day.
More than this, bone broth supports digestive health and promotes gut healing, making it a wonderful health drink for those with gastrointestinal problems, such as SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). Be aware that most commercial bone broths may cause worsening symptoms for those with SIBO. To avoid this, it’s important to modify the bone broth in a couple of ways. Let’s discuss SIBO and bone broth, as well as how to alter bone broth for better gut tolerability.
How Bone Broth Helps SIBO Symptoms
Bone broth contains several minerals and vitamins that are easily digested and utilized by the body. This includes magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A and K. These nutrients are more easily absorbed than when they are found in food, making it easier for people with SIBO to get the nutrients they need.
Most of the gut-healing properties of bone broth, however, are found in another type of nutrient: Collagen, specifically type III. Collagen is a structural protein containing 19 amino acids, with particularly high amounts of glycine, proline, and glutamine. Collagen is found in our skin and connective tissue, including our digestive tract! The amino acids in collagen help heal the lining (or wall) of our intestines (“gut”) and stomach. Glutamine, a very common amino acid and one that is found in bone broth, is well known to heal “leaky gut syndrome” by preventing the inflammation of our gut lining.
Leaky gut is a common occurrence in those with SIBO and can lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, IBS, food sensitivities, and more. Repairing a leaky gut lining can ease these symptoms, which cause the most discomfort for those with SIBO. Collagen also regulates stomach acid, ensuring the proper amount is released to avoid heartburn and help with digestion.
With regards to other SIBO symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and brain fog, bone broth is here to help. The connection between our gut and our brain is well established. Our mood and mental state is directly impacted by the health of our gut. By improving our gut health, bone broth indirectly improves and balances our mood and ability to focus.
Keep in mind that it is best to use bone broth for supplemental collagen only, and not to replace it with any part of your SIBO treatment. This is because the amount of collagen and amino acids found in bone broth vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the type of bone, the number bones, the type of animal, and how long the broth simmered. These factors can cause collagen amounts to range from 2.5 to 11.5 grams per serving of bone broth. Furthermore, the amount of collagen in bone broth is rarely listed on the label, so it is impossible for the consumer to know exactly how much collagen they are getting. Therefore, if you are needing specific amounts of collagen or the amino acids found within it, it is best to obtain them from supplements to maintain consistency.
Not Just Any Bone Broth Will Do
Conventional bone broth on store shelves may cause digestive discomfort for those with SIBO. This is due to the cartilage in the bones, as well as the various high FODMAP vegetables used to flavor the broth. Luckily, there are great work-arounds! Bone broths can be made-to-order, thereby removing high FODMAP ingredients. There are also ways to get the right kind of bones that don’t contain cartilage, so you can make bone broth at home.
Ingredients To Avoid
Conventional bone broths (or any broths) often contain high FODMAP vegetables such as onions or garlic that are added for flavor. Even though they’re removed from the broth, the “oligosaccharides” (which is the “O” in FODMAP) have already leached into the liquid, making it a high FODMAP broth. Those with SIBO should avoid any broths that list garlic and onions in the ingredients. Avoiding onions and garlic in bone broths can be tricky. Beth’s Bountiful Bone Broth is a locally-owned business in the Columbia Gorge that offers high-quality bone broths that can be made-to-order for your low FODMAP needs.
Beth makes a veggie pre-mixed spice kit containing dehydrated vegetables and spices for your homemade bone broth. Just add the bones! Alternatively, you can omit the bones and simply simmer the beef or chicken meat for a thinner broth. This veggie spice kit already contains garlic and onions unless specifically requested otherwise. Contact Beth to request a low FODMAP spice kit and she will make one just for you, without adding onions and garlic. Instead, this low FODMAP spice kit will contain air dried carrots, celery, shiitake mushrooms, turmeric, peppercorns, and various dried spices. Not only do these enhance the flavor of your homemade bone broth, but it also provides health benefits from the shiitake mushrooms and turmeric. Shiitake mushrooms help in lowering cholesterol, strengthening the immune system, lower diabetes risk, and help with eczema. Turmeric spice is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial.
The Type Of Bone Matters
Avoiding onions and garlic in your bone broth is just the first step towards making it low FODMAP. The types of bones used to make broth should also be considered. Most conventional broths are made using bones that have cartilage attached to them. Cartilage is the connective tissue that protects joints and is found where two bones join together. To make broth, these bones are boiled in water for several hours, releasing a type of carbohydrate (called monosaccharide) that is high FODMAP. In fact, monosaccharide is the “M” in FODMAP, and it’s released into the water during boiling. This results in a high FODMAP broth and should be avoided by those with SIBO.
So what’s the solution? Low FODMAP bone broth must be made using marrow bones, or long bones, without the connecting cartilage. Marrow-based broths are safe for those with SIBO and do not cause gut symptoms. However, don’t expect to find marrow-based broths at the grocery store. Most brands will not indicate which type of bone was used; even organic bone broths will not state this. In fact, unless specifically stated that marrow bones were used, it is best to assume that they aren’t good for SIBO.
If we can’t trust conventional bone broths to use marrow bones, what are our other options? Usually, people with SIBO would need to make their own broth instead. It is possible to find marrow bones at your local beef ranch by calling ahead and asking if they would sell you some. To get the most out of the bones, make sure the ranch uses organic growing practices and raises grass-fed beef. If you have trouble finding a local ranch, you can always purchase online. Seven Sons Ranch and Oregon Valley Farm both sell marrow bones online and ship within the U.S.
Unlike beef bone broth, chicken bone broth cannot be made low FODMAP, even if made at home. This is because chicken bones contain much more cartilage than beef bones. Further, there are far less marrow bones on one chicken carcass, meaning you’d need to source bones from multiple chickens in order to achieve the right flavor profile. This is not usually feasible. The best way to enjoy chicken broth if you have SIBO is to make it without any bones (or onions and garlic).
Making broth without bones is always an option for those with SIBO. Simmer beef or chicken meat instead, making sure to avoid onions and garlic!
However, if you don’t want to make anything yourself, then we recommend the grass-fed beef bone broth, which is made with marrow bones. This is liquid bone broth already made and ready to enjoy! It does contain garlic and onions, however, so be sure to call ahead and request a low FODMAP version.
A Personal Story
Beth Kandell, owner of Beth’s Bountiful Bone Broth, has had her own experience with SIBO and how drinking bone broth has helped calm her symptoms:
I have had SIBO for many years. I actually cycled through all three types! Methane-dominant, then hydrogen-dominant, and then mixed. I had all the classic gut symptoms and couldn’t get them under control. I would also always wake up extremely hungry in the middle of the night! I was already taking the usual herbal supplements for SIBO treatment, but I decided to add in some bone broth (without onion or garlic). I drank a cup of broth during the day and another cup before going to bed. What a difference it made! My digestive symptoms calmed down and I felt much more comfortable. Best of all, I began sleeping through the night again! My nighttime hunger gradually began disappearing until it was no longer an issue. Of course I kept taking the herbal supplements, as prescribed for functional healing, but I credit the bone broth for the noticeable difference in my symptoms. It gave me back my life (and sleep)!