At some point in your life, you’ve probably experienced abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, or diarrhea. When these symptoms persist, you may start to worry. Could something be wrong with your digestive system?
When irritating digestive issues persist, you may want to reevaluate your everyday diet. This blog post is about a diet that is research-based and how bone broth can complement it to help your gut heal.
A couple of years ago, I was experiencing some uncomfortable gut issues. I had all the classic gut symptoms and couldn’t get them under control. I would even wake up in the middle of the night feeling extremely hungry. Finally I ended up getting diagnosed with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth – a disease commonly known as SIBO.
I ended up following a scientifically developed diet called “low FODMAP”. It’s for people with all kinds of digestive issues. I also incorporated a specially-formulated bone broth which I’ll tell you more about below.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about SIBO and how to best treat your digestive issues naturally by following the low FODMAP diet, along with regular bone broth consumption.
Of course it should be noted how crucial it is to involve your doctor. Get diagnosed and consult your doctor before trying this. Everyone’s health situation is different.
What Is SIBO And How Is It Diagnosed?
As you know, your digestive tract is composed of a large population of bacteria. Most of the bacteria are in the colon. The small intestine, however, has a smaller population of bacteria. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) involves an increased bacterial population in the small intestine which simply doesn’t belong.
SIBO may arise after an abdominal surgery or disease that slows down food as it moves through the digestive tract. When the gut is compromised, bacteria can run amok, traveling where they don’t belong. These misplaced gut bacteria in the small intestine can end up disrupting nutrient absorption. Not good!
To learn about other potential causes of SIBO, you can read this blog post about SIBO on my website.
SIBO is often connected with other chronic health conditions. These include rosacea, psoriasis, fibromialgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, other digestive disorders, and many more.
As you know, anything that affects the gut affects the rest of the body. This is why caring for your compromised digestive system can positively impact the health of your whole body.
SIBO is diagnosed using a breath test after fasting for 12 hours. The fast is then broken by consuming a lactulose solution. Then the breath samples are collected throughout the day. These samples are then analyzed for the presence of hydrogen and methane gasses. These gasses arise when there is an overgrowth of bacteria that ferments the lactulose drink. People are diagnosed as having methane-dominant SIBO or hydrogen-dominant SIBO. Some can have a mixture of both gasses, while others can have hydrogen-sulfide SIBO.
What are FODMAPS?
Researchers at Monash University came up with a diet for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which has also been found to help with SIBO. The low FODMAP diet is often recommended for SIBO because it helps you eliminate the fermentable carbohydrates from your diet that gut bacteria love to eat.
To understand this diet, you first need to understand that FODMAP stands for and why you may want to avoid foods that contain them. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.
Each kind of FODMAP can be found in one of four dietary sources:
- Oligosaccharides: These include various fruit and vegetables, wheat, rye, legumes.
- Disaccharides: This includes most dairy (lactose), such as milk, soft cheese, and yogurt.
- Monosaccharides: These can be found in fruits (fructose) such as apples, pears, and figs, as well as sweeteners such as agave nectar and honey.
- Polyols: Found in various fruit and vegetables, and low-calorie sweeteners.
Why low FODMAP diet is good for SIBO
Research has shown that 75% of people living with IBS can benefit from a low FODMAP diet. The diet can also help with SIBO because high FODMAP carbohydrate foods will ferment in the gut. This is what feeds the bacterial overgrowth involved in SIBO, causing bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vitamin deficiencies (especially B12).
Gastroenterologist Hazel Galon Veloso, M.D., of John Hopkins medicine has said, “The low FODMAP diet is a temporary eating plan that’s very restrictive. It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting a new diet, but especially with the low FODMAP diet since it eliminates so many foods — it’s not a diet anyone should follow for long. It’s a short discovery process to determine what foods are troublesome for you.”
Following the FODMAP diet may be different from one individual to the next because it’s focused on identifying the foods that cause the most issues. The process involves a few steps:
- First, you stop eating high FODMAP foods. Here is a list of what to avoid.
- Next, you slowly reintroduce the foods you’ve eliminated to identify the ones that give you trouble.
- Once you figure out the foods that cause symptoms, you then avoid or reduce how often you eat them.
Take at least four weeks to avoid foods that are high in FODMAPs before testing out which ones may irritate your gut. When you try to add a food back and it causes symptoms, then continue to avoid that food.
If you’ve got this list of foods to avoid, you’ll realize that there is a lot to eliminate, but there are also a lot of foods you CAN eat. Further down the page you’ll see a list of Low FODMAP foods that you can eat. One food that is particularly nourishing to consume is bone broth.
Why Bone Broth is good for treating SIBO
Consuming bone broth is a wonderful way to support digestive health and gut healing. Most commercial bone broths, however, may cause worsening symptoms for those with SIBO. To avoid this, you simply need to make bone broth without the high FODMAP vegetables such as onions or garlic which are typically added for flavor.
When you’re in the elimination stage of the low FODMAP diet, you’ll want to make sure you don’t even drink broth that may have been cooked with onions and garlic, because even if they’re removed, the “oligosaccharides” from these vegetables remain in the liquid. Until you know if you can tolerate onions and garlic, it’s best to avoid these.
Low FODMAP/SIBO DIY Bone Broth Spice Kit
I’ve formulated a spice kit that contains ingredients that are friendly to the low FODMAP diet. You can learn more about the low FODMAP spice kit here. When the spice kit is combined with bones, water, and a bit of apple cider vinegar, result in a delicious bone broth. Pick some up online on my website and learn how to make your broth here.
What makes bone broth such an excellent choice of foods to consume while going low FODMAP to heal your gut is the easily digested minerals and vitamins that it contains. Bone broth includes magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A and K. All of these nutrients are best absorbed when consumed in food, rather than as supplements.
The type III collagen found in bone broth is the real gut healer. This type of collagen is a structural protein that contains 19 amino acids. It is particularly high in glycine, proline, and glutamine. Together these amino acids help build connective tissue, as well as the lining of the digestive tract!
A common occurrence for those with SIBO is leaky gut. This is when the lining of your intestines get inflamed and food particles leak into the bloodstream causing other issues. Repairing a leaky gut lining can ease many of the symptoms that cause the most discomfort for those with SIBO.
Remember that bone broth should not replace your SIBO treatment. Getting enough collagen and amino acids by consuming bone broth can help. However the amount of collagen content in your bone broth will vary depending on the type of bone, the number of bones used, the type of animal, and how long the broth simmered.
I suggest following my recipe or best results. Ideally your bone broth should have collagen content in the range of 2.5 to 11.5 grams per serving.
Getting Started with a Low FODMAP Diet
Getting started with a low FODMAP diet can feel overwhelming. Make sure you’re starting the diet during a time when you have enough time to really focus on your health, scheduling for meal prep. Following a diet is never easy, it takes a plan.
Don’t hesitate to get a trained dietitian to help you with planning. Sometimes having a professional on your side can keep you on track. Just know that they’ll likely want you to keep a food diary to track everything that you eat and any symptoms that may arise.
If you like using smartphone apps, then you’ll be happy to know that Monash University created one for both iPhone and Android. You can download the FODMAP Diet App through the iTunes Store or on Google Play.
To start the diet, remember you’re focusing on eliminating all of the foods containing FODMAPs. Focus on creating large dishes that will result in leftovers that are easy to reheat. Be sure to schedule times throughout the week to cook your meals and bone broth. There are plenty of Low FODMAP-friendly recipes to try on the Monash University website.
When it comes to meal planning, Monash University also has some excellent pointers which you can read here. One suggestion is to think about making the kinds of dishes you’d ordinarily enjoy while just swapping out ingredients that are high FODMAP. They also suggest purchasing these grocery staples:
- Grains: rice, gluten-free pasta, spelt sourdough, gluten-free bread, quinoa, and oats
- Dairy/alternatives: lactose-free yogurt and milk, almond milk fortified with calcium, firm cheeses
- Proteins: meat, chicken or fish that have not been marinated or crumbed, eggs, firm tofu, canned legumes, seeds, walnuts, and brazil nuts
- Vegetables: Aubergine/eggplant, green beans, bok choy, broccoli heads, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, potato, tomato, and zucchini
- Fruits: Cantaloupe, kiwi fruit (green), mandarin, orange, pineapple, raspberries, and blueberries
- Oils/fats: olive oil, butter
- Condiments/sauces: mustard, peanut butter, soy sauce, tahini, tomato sauce, vinegars, Worcestershire sauce, miso paste
After four to six weeks of eliminating all the high FODMAP foods, you’ll then begin reintroducing foods. In the reintroduction phase, you pick one type of FODMAP to begin incorporating to see if you have any severe symptoms. For example, you may start with a small amount of oligosaccharides such as legumes. If you don’t have any reaction, then you may add another oligosaccharide such as wheat.
You may try adding foods from one FODMAP category for up to a week and if you tolerate these foods, then you can continue onto the next group. If you don’t, then you return to the elimination phase of the diet for a week before moving onto a different category.
The goal is to identify the category of foods in the FODMAPs that tend to bother your digestion and then avoid those.
Getting Started with Bone Broth
While it can be convenient, it’s best to avoid store-bought brands of bone broth as they contain ingredients and preservatives that can harm your gut. You’re going to be making your own homemade bone broth with high quality ingredients that are low FODMAP. I packaged the essentials for you in my Low FODMAP Spice Kit.
The bone broth you’ll make contains amino acids and other nutrients that get released leached into water from the simmering bones, vegetables, and spices. While it can take some time to make, it can help your gut heal, whether you’re in the elimination stage of the diet, or beginning to incorporate foods.
If your case of SIBO is severe, during the elimination stage of your diet it’s a good idea to use meaty bones with marrow instead of cartilage bones. That’s because cartilage contains a type of carbohydrate called polysaccharides that may feed the bad bacteria. This has been pointed out by Dr. Allison Siebecker, an authority on SIBO and creator of the SIBO-Specific Diet Food Guide.
You can make bone broth in a stock pot on your stovetop, or in an Instant Pot. To make a high quality bone broth, follow the five steps of my recipe. The recipe contains instructions and cooking times for both the conventional stock pot and Instant Pot methods. Both methods will produce approximately 4 quarts of broth depending on the size of your pot and the amount of bones added to the pot. Once you’ve made your bone broth, portions can be frozen for later.
You’ll want to drink at least two cups of broth a day. It’s a good idea to drink a cup first thing in the morning while your stomach is still empty. I drank a cup of broth in the morning and another cup before going to bed. You should start noticing improvement after the first week.
Don’t let SIBO overtake your gut health! Following Low FODMAP and drinking bone broth made such a difference for me. 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. I credit the bone broth for the noticeable difference in my symptoms. It gave me back my life (and sleep)! I hope that by combining regular bone broth consumption with a Low FODMAP diet, that you will also accelerate your healing from SIBO.