Is Bone Broth Bad for You? The Pros and Cons of this Trendy Drink
Why bone broth is bad for you
Although bone broth is considered healthy, it can do more harm than good to certain people.
Here’s why, there are side effects that some drinkers experience like gas, bloating, constipation and stomach pain.
Are you one of them? Read this article to find out.
First a quick note: the number one bone broth that just about everyone can drink is Bluebird Provisions Instant Powder.
Even the most sensitive stomachs can handle small cups of this. Try a brand you can actually trust the USA sourcing, nutrition (12 g protein) and ingredients (non-gmo and pasture raised chicken bones, that's it).
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth has been around for centuries and helps give nutrition and flavor to meals. It is a liquid that results from cooking bones, meat and connective tissue for a long time... like 48 hours long.
The result is a savory and nutrient-rich, slightly gelatinous elixir with potent nutritional benefits. It looks like soup, but is so much more. It can be eaten as a meal, with a side of vegetables or used as a supplement for the protein and amino acids.
Nowadays, many people simply drink it in place of coffee or tea. The difference between broths and stocks: length of cook time (longer for broth).
Health Benefits: What are the Nutrients and Vitamins in Bone Broth?
Bone broth is a powerful source of nutrients that are often overlooked. That is because it is full on nutrition that we lack in a typical Western diet (unless you eat liver, chicken thighs or soup. These potent nutrients benefit your gut health, joint health, sleep, blood pressure and more.
Some of the top nutrients are collagen, glycine, proline, magnesium, potassium, glucosamine and glutamine.
Collagen is used to make gelatin. Both are essential for blood sugar control, joints, tissues, gut health, liver detoxification and sleep.
Glycine helps tighten the little holes in your gut by laying down new connective tissue. It is an absolutely fascinating amino acid with amazing health benefits.
Glutamine is an amino acid that acts as a fuel source for your gut and intestinal cells.
Gelatin is a cooked version of collagen that assists in digestion and absorption of nutrients. Gelatin is what makes some chicken soup or other dishes coagulate when in the fridge.
Proline is an amino acid that helps heal wounds (on medical tables) to promote gut health.
What are the Potential Risks with Bone Broth?
The potential risks with bone broth are histamine intolerance, lead and heavy metals and glutamate sensitivity. These pale in comparison to the number one risk: fake bone broth.
Yes, you read that correctly. Most store bought or online versions (including those in soup) are mislabeled junk that are bad for your health.
Because of these issues above, it may cause adverse effects, such as anxiety, headaches, stomach issues, restlessness, low energy, mental exhaustion and concentration problems. Let's discuss each in depth.
Glutamic Acid Sensitivity
It may contain glutamic acid, an amino acid that has many health benefits, but unfortunately, some people are sensitive to. Symptoms from glutamic acid sensitivity can include digestive upset, muscle or joint pain, sneezing and dry mouth
Heavy Metals and Lead
Heavy metals in bone broth is overblown. It was based on one study that has not been replicated. And this one study showed lower levels than you find in municipal drinking water.
So long as you are getting your beverage from a reputable brand that is non-GMO and sourced in the USA or Canada, this issue is a huge fuss about nothing.
Fraud: You Might Not Be Drinking Something Made From Animal Bones
You only get the health benefits if you are truly drinking a real product. Most brands you find for sale online / Amazon or in store are mislabelled fraudsters who manipulate reviews to sell and hype their brand.
They use nasty additives, sodium, preservatives, chemicals, junk fillers, fake protein sources, yeast extracts, natural flavors and sweeteners to make a product taste good. The problem is that you get no protein or crucial nutrients needed to make you feel better.
Histamine Intolerance: Why You Feel Bad Drinking Bone Broths
Histamine is a chemical in you that causes an immediate inflammatory reaction when it's threatened. The reaction happens is when your body releases histamine as a response to something in the your meals
A histamine response can cause swelling, brain fog, headaches and stomach pain. Get the full list of side effects below.
Intolerance is caused by various things that trigger allergic reactions. It is important to note that it isn't "bad" and, in fact, all people have it so it's not something to worry about or avoid.
It can be a serious medical condition in rare cases that can have a variety of issues. However, it is only bad when you release too much histamine or can't break it down.
How does bone broth fit into this? It is a high-histamine containing food due to the longer cooking times of bones in the pot over the course of 24 to 48 hours.
They are common and found in some other foods like some chicken soup, chocolate and some cured meats, which also contribute to these issues.
Common Side Effects of Histamine Intolerance
Common side effects of histamine intolerance are:
- Headaches or head rushes
- Rapid heart rate
- Bloating, constipation or gas
- Sudden need to sit down and rest
- Blood sugar imbalances (especially hypoglycemia)
- Brain fog
- Low blood pressure/high blood pressure
- Sinus congestion
- Skin breakouts, hives, rashes or itches
- Throat or tongue swelling
Some people need to focus more on healing their gut first before they can reap the benefits of drinking bone broth, as it can harm some people.
Histamine is Not “Bad”
All of us have histamine in our bodies. In fact, histamine response is a normal bodily response that certainly is not bad. Histamine is only bad when:
- You release too much histamine
- You can’t break histamine down fast enough—resulting in more of it than you can handle
Either of these two things results in issues listed above. In order to have histamine intolerance, you must either have a gut with a high amount of histamine-producing bacteria or your immune system is not working correctly.
Since 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut, which is usually the culprit.
High Histamine Foods
High histamine foods include:
- Nightshades (peppers, eggplants)
- Cured Meats
- Smoked Fish
- Dried Fruit
- Pickled Food
- Chicken Soup
- Fermented Food
If your system cannot handle some or all of these foods well then you may have a reason as to why it makes you feel awful when you drink it.
Looking for a real one? Read our review of the best bone broths this year.
What Causes Histamine Intolerance?
Histamine is produced by your gut bacteria. If you have a healthy gut, then your immune system can produce histamine and help it clear from the body.
Histamine intolerance is a result of an imbalance in gut bacteria (dysbiosis), enzyme production and food sensitivities. That is because 80% of the immune system resides in our gut, specifically GALT (gut associated lymphatic tissue).
Low digestive enzyme (low DAO and HNMT levels) production is another cause for histamine intolerance. A healthy gut microbiome is necessary for the body to produce sufficient digestive enzymes, which can prevent histamine buildup.
A leaky gut or an over-production of histamines in the body is another cause. DAO enzymes are produced in the intestines, so a leaky gut and reduced amounts of these enzymes play a role in increased levels of histamine.
The Solution (& How to Drink It Again)
Gut healing is the first step to overcoming histamine intolerance. Steps that may be taken for gut healing include: clinical testing and diet changes, as well as boosting digestive enzyme production and repairing your leaky gut.
Clinical testing can help diagnose the root cause of your issues. But it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to gut health.
How to Drink Bone Broth if You Have Histamine Intolerance
The solution is simple: reduce the simmer and consume shorter cooked broths. Three hours is great if you are making it at home.
This type of beverage is still nutrient-dense, it will not have quite the same nutrition as longer simmered versions. Gradually should be able to tolerate longer cooked ones and other natural sources of glutamates like fish broth.
Take 1/4 Cup at a Time (Lessen the Amount)
A few Bluebird Provisions guests have mentioned they don't feel great drinking lots of Instant Bone Broth. We were able to fix this by telling them to reduce the serving size to 1/4 Cup or 1 tsp of powder mixed into hot water per serving.
This significantly reduces the histamine load on your body. After a while, your body can tolerate more and you're able to drink more.
Shorten Your Cook Time and Add More Meat
The solution here is simple: reduce the simmer time and consume shorter cooked versions or a meat broth instead.
Three hours is great if you are making it at home (my secret recipe). It is still worth drinking, however, it lacks the protein and electrolytes of longer simmered versions.
Over time you should be able to tolerate longer cooked versions and other natural sources of glutamates like fish broth.
Meat broth takes 2 to 3 hours, compared to 24-72 hours. Simply grab some cheaper cuts (flank, rump roast, etc) of meat from your butcher along with a few bones, simmer it all for 2-3 hours and enjoy.
For chicken you can make a delicious chicken soup using breast, or thigh meat (better value). Avoid the joints like feet or wings.
Supplement with DAO Enzymes for Digestion
DAO enzymes are a supplement that helps reduce histamine levels caused by food. Try taking a DAO enzyme supplement before meals if you have histamine intolerance or other allergies to protein-containing foods like beef or chicken
Support a Healthy Gut / GI Tract with a Quality Symbiotic
"Symbiotic" is the word used to describe a probiotic-prebiotic blended supplement. It's designed to balance out a "dysbiotic gut," which means it can help with histamine intolerance. There are many quality ones on the market including Visbiome.
So, is bone broth good for you?
Bone broth is good for you because of the unique health benefits which include: sleep, blood sugar control, weight loss, protein, hydration, hair and nails, joint pain reduction and more.
While there are some risks with it, a tiny percentage of the population are subject to these risks. It comes down to the quality of the beverage you are drinking. You are more likely drinking a subpar liquid that is not real instead of having actual issues with it.
Do doctors recommend drinking bone broth?
Doctors recommend drinking bone broth because it contains compounds that promote skin health, weight loss, blood sugar control and joint health.
So adding a few servings to your diet can have a powerful impact on longevity and well being.. It is best drunk daily in two to four cups per day.
Doctors that review and recommend it include Chris Kresser, Chris Masterjohn, Dr Will Cole, Dr Oz and more.
What are the pros and cons of bone broth?
The pros of bone broth are that it can improve sleep, blood sugar control, skin health and energy levels.
On the other hand, the cons are that it:
- You may not be drinking a real one. This is the number one issue with it.
- May cause glutamate sensitivity which can lead to migraines
- May cause histamine reactions if you are intolerant to it (3% of the population)
- Has the potential to contain metals and lead.
Where to Buy a Quality Bone Broth
You can buy a quality bone broth from Bluebird Provisions. They make an Instant Chicken Powder version that has all the health benefits of liquid, but without the hassle.
It is perfect for your busy lifestyle because it contains 12 g protein with 300 mg hydrating potassium per serving.
It is also the best tasting one you'll ever try. And the ingredient list is clean and simple: just water, chicken bones (non-gmo and pasture raised).
Closing Thoughts: is the Caution Legit?
Bone broth is a healthy drink that gives you many nutrients we lack on a Western diet. A small portion of the population may have issues with it because of histamine intolerance, glutamic acid sensitivities and metal issues.
The heavy metal issue is overblown and was disproven with subsequent research. So you do not need to worry about that as long as you're drinking a real one.
Speaking of which, that is the number one risk with it. You must research the brand you are drinking to ensure it doesn't contain tons of sodium, yeast, natural flavors or junk fillers.
Bluebird Provisions makes the number one powder on the planet. Finally, a brand that you can trust and actually tastes great.
You can learn more about it by following that link. If you have histamine or glutamate issues, then drink less of it to see how you react. 1/4 cup is a great place to start in one sitting. You can read reviews of how guests just like you are using it to look and feel better.
Do you have sensitivities to it? Share your experience in the comments.
Does bone broth raise blood pressure?
Bone broth does not raise blood pressure. It actually lowers your blood pressure because of the natural collagen found in it. Collagen is shown to reduce your blood pressure according to a new review of a Japanese study.
Can too much bone broth make you sick?
Too much of anything can make you sick. From a practical standpoint, you will not get sick if you are drinking two and three cups of bone broth on a day. You will only get sick if you have existing leaky gut or underlying gut issues that affect your ability to digest it properly. A small percentage of the population may get issues due to histamine intolerance.
Is bone broth scientifically proven?
Bone broth itself is not scientifically proven. This is because not all beverages are created equal. There is such a wide variety in quality and nutrition that research would be nearly impossible to replicate.
The other reason there is not science to support it is because it is a small industry with no massive companies interested in funding the research.
As a result, we need to review what is in this liquid and look at the science behind those things (collagen, glycine, proline, glutamine, glucosamine) to see if it is legit. And there is tons of science to support the ingredients in it.
Is bone broth bad for you?
Bone broth is considered safe, but it is important to consider the salt content and the ingredient list to ensure you are not drinking a fake supplement. It can be bad if you are drinking one that is full of natural flavors, yeast extracts, citric and other junk fillers that are bad for your health. Many chicken soups are made from these nasty ingredients as well.
Is chicken broth good for you?
Chicken broth or soup is good for you is you are sick. In fact, research shows that it is shown to make you feel better by blocking and reducing white blood cell formation in your upper respiratory tract. With less WBCs in the area, it may shorten the duration of the common cold.
The hydration in chicken broth / soup is also good for you and will help you feel better if you are feeling sick. Stick to traditional recipes for best results.
What are the dangers of eating bone marrow?
The dangers of eating bone marrow are not well documented. In fact, some people believe that it is a good source of nutrition for the body. It contains many nutrients, including protein, minerals and vitamins. Some of the most important nutrients are: Vitamin A, B12, iron and riboflavin.
Hi Sue, yes there is! There is really no substitute for homemade.
Is there benefits to getting bones from your market and boiling them?
Thanks Sherry! Bluebird ingredients can be found on the product page: https://bluebirdprovisions.co/products/chicken-bone-broth-powder
Thanks so much for the edit Karen. We are a team of one (just me) without an editor because of limited resources. I do my best but sometimes I get things wrong.
Pale is spelled P A L E above; not pail, as in small bucket.
Where is your FULL list of ingredients listed?
Please utilize editor; your use of “pail” should be spelled “pale” – beyond the pale.