Bone broth for IBS: Recipe, benefits, and limitations

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects the digestive system, causing uncomfortable symptoms. Bone broth may help to relieve some symptoms of IBS.

IBS is a common digestive disorder. It causes a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements.

There is no cure for IBS, but there are various ways of managing its symptoms. These methods may include medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Treatment strategies that work for one person may not be effective for another, so people sometimes try several techniques before finding one that works.

One method of managing symptoms is nutritional intervention, This can involve a person altering their diet in several ways, including:

  • reducing gluten intake
  • increasing fiber intake
  • eliminating certain foods that trigger IBS symptoms

Read on to find out more about nutritional interventions such as bone broth, its benefits for IBS, and how to make bone broth at home.

Bone broth is a liquid that may have benefits for the digestive system. People make it by boiling animal bones in water.

Research suggests that cooking animal bones for a long period releases minerals, amino acids, and proteins. These nutrients may support the digestive function and the immune system.

How to make bone broth

People may use different methods and ingredients to prepare bone broth. The recipe that follows was included in a 2021 research paper,

Ingredients

  • animal bones (eg bovine femur)
  • white vinegar
  • water

Method

  1. Cut the bones into pieces weighing around 3.5–4.5 ounces (oz) each.
  2. Leave the pieces to stand in warm water (122°F) for 15 minutes. Remove the bones and discard the water, then repeat twice. The purpose of this stage is to remove any remaining parts that are not bone.
  3. Add 4 teaspoons of white vinegar to 4 cups of water and bring the liquid to a boil.
  4. Add the bones to the mixture and boil for 8 hours at around 212°F. Fill a jug with 4 teaspoons of white vinegar and 4 cups of water and use the mixture to regularly top up the fluid as the bones boil.
  5. Remove from the heat, then leave to stand for 3 hours before refrigerating for 6 hours.
  6. Using a sieve, remove the bones and fat from the liquid.
  7. Reheat the broth to serve. A person may freeze it for later use.

The researchers used a slow cooker to prepare the broth. Beef and turkey bones are good to use as they contain high concentrations of nutrients, such as amino acids, for managing IBS.

Most recipes suggest boiling the broth for between 8 and 10 hours. This is because cooking for at least 8 hours Maximizes the concentration of minerals and amino acids that go into the broth.

However, boiling the broth for any longer than 10 hours can cause the concentration of nutrients to decrease. The flavor may also worsen after 10 hours of cooking.

A growing body of research supports bone broth as a source of therapeutic properties for gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Anti-inflammatory properties

Many of the nutrients within bone broth have anti-inflammatory properties. This offers benefits for conditions that affect the digestive tract, including IBS and ulcerative colitis, as it may reduce inflammatory pain.

Bone broth provides the body with essential amino acids. These molecules are important for gastrointestinal function.

Amino acids are necessary for the digestive system as the body uses them to build and repair the intestines. In this way, amino acids maintain the mucosal barrier function in the intestines.

They also provide anti-inflammatory benefits for the gut.

Source of minerals

A 2018 study reports that bone broth is a good source of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Vitamins and minerals offer similar benefits to amino acids, as they enable cells to function properly. People who do not consume enough micronutrients are more likely to experience symptoms such as:

Many people with IBS follow a low fermentable oligosaccharide, disaccharide, monosaccharide, and polyol (FODMAP) diet. The FODMAP diet may help reduce the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain.

However, a low FODMAP diet can cause deficiencies over time, particularly in vitamins, minerals, and certain antioxidants. Because of this, many people with IBS lack certain minerals in their diets. Bone broth includes these nutrients without ingredients that may trigger IBS symptoms. Although this depends on which recipe a person uses.

Despite the benefits, there are limitations to using bone broth to manage IBS. Bone broth is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, as the main ingredient is animal bones.

The benefits of bone broth may vary between recipes, as the type and quality of bones can impact the nutrients that go into the soup.

For example, a 2019 study compared how the main amino acid concentrations of bone broth varied when using turkey, beef, or chicken bones. The researchers reported the following:

  • Turkey bones provided the highest concentration of arginine, which supports blood flow, and glutamate, which has neurological benefits.
  • Beef bones released the most hydroxylysine, a component of collagen.
  • Chicken bones had the highest levels of hydroxyproline, another component of collagen, and proline, which may be useful in maintaining the mucosal barrier in the intestine.

The authors of a 2017 study stated that animal bones contain trace amounts of toxic heavy metals. However, they found that the heavy metal content of bone broth is too low to be harmful.

Other possible health risks include hypercalcemia. This can affect heart and brain function and may weaken a person’s bones.

Consuming too much bone broth Long-term can cause calcium levels to become too high (hypercalcemia). Bone marrow contains high levels of vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption. This may lead to hypercalcemia if a person consumes too much.

However, the study also found that most homemade or commercial bone broth contained less than 5% of the daily recommended amount of calcium.

A person may experience IBS symptoms depending on which ingredients they add to bone broth. IBS trigger foods differ between people, A person with IBS should consume bone broth in moderation and alongside a balanced diet.

People with IBS may also consider speaking to a doctor or dietitian before preparing or consuming bone broth.

IBS is a condition affecting the digestive system, causing symptoms that include abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements.

A person may include nutritional intervention as a method of managing IBS symptoms. Nutritional intervention uses diet to prevent IBS symptoms. Bone broth has anti-inflammatory properties and contains nutrients that may benefit people with IBS.

Each individual’s situation is different, and foods that trigger IBS symptoms in one person may not affect another.

A person with IBS may consult a doctor or dietitian for advice on whether bone broth may be beneficial for them. A healthcare professional may also advise suitable ingredients a person can add to bone broth.

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