Bone broth is all the rage at the moment, but is it really all that it’s made out to be? Even if it is, how safe is it for someone suffering with gout? Here you’ll discover why gout sufferers may have to be careful with bone broth.
Bone Broth and Gout
What is Bone Broth?
Bone broth is a liquid made by simmering marrow bones and connective tissue of animals in water for an extended period of time, often with the addition of vegetables and herbs for flavor.
The bones used to make bone broth can come from a variety of animals, such as beef, chicken, turkey, or even fish.
The long simmering process breaks down the animal bones and releases nutrients such as collagen, gelatin, and amino acids, which are believed to have a number of health benefits.
Some people consume bone broth as a standalone beverage, while others use it as a base for soups, gravies, sauces, and other dishes.
Bone broth is often associated with traditional or ancestral diets and is thought to have been consumed by humans for thousands of years.
There are several potential health benefits associated with consuming bone broth…
Bone broth is a rich source of nutrients such as collagen, gelatin, and amino acids.
Collagen is a protein that supports the health of skin, hair, nails, and joints, while gelatin is a protein that can help improve gut health and digestion.
The amino acids found in bone broth, such as arginine, glutamate, glycine, and proline, may also have a number of health benefits.
May support joint health
The collagen in bone broth may help to support the health of joints and reduce inflammation.
Some people believe that regularly consuming bone broth can help to improve joint pain and mobility.
May improve gut health
The gelatin in bone broth may help to improve gut health and digestion by supporting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and aiding in the repair of the intestinal lining.
It’s thought it may help with irritable bowel and leaky gut syndromes.
May support the immune system
Some believe that the nutrients in bone broth may help to support the immune system and improve symptoms of colds and flu.
However, it’s important to note that whilst these potential health benefits are often associated with bone broth, much more research is needed to confirm their effectiveness.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid in the bloodstream.
Uric acid is a waste product produced when the body breaks down purines, which are substances found naturally in the body as well as in most foods.
When the level of uric acid in the blood becomes too high, tiny uric acid crystals can deposit in the joints, leading to inflammation and pain.
The large joint at the base of the big toe is the most common site, but other joints, such as the wrists, fingers, elbows, and ankles, are often affected too.
Typical gout symptoms are: swelling, inflammation, shiny red skin, heat, stiffness and, of course, extreme pain.
Risk Factors for Gout
There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing gout…
Diet: consuming high amounts of purine-rich foods, such as red meat, organ meat, game, and seafood, can increase the risk of gout.
Alcohol, particularly beer, can also increase the risk of gout by increasing the production of uric acid in the body.
Another major risk factor for gout is high-fructose corn syrup found in many, if not most, commercially prepared foods, snacks, and sugary drinks.
Obesity: being overweight or obese can increase the risk of gout, as excess weight may increase the production of uric acid and also put additional strain on the joints.
Dehydration: not getting enough fluids can increase the concentration of uric acid in the blood and urine, which can increase the risk of gout and kidney stones.
Medical conditions: certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and some medications, can increase the risk of gout.
Family history: a family history of gout may increase the risk of developing the condition.
Is Bone Broth Good or Bad for Gout?
There is some evidence to suggest that bone broth may be helpful for people with gout…
A recent clinical study associates two amino acids, glycine and tryptophan, with a significant reduction in serum uric acid levels.
Although bone broth is low in tryptophan, it’s relatively high in glycine which, even acting alone, was seen to significantly increase uric acid excretion.
Furthermore, bone broth is rich in collagen, a type of protein made up of amino acids. Collagen helps to strengthen the connective tissue in the body, including the joints and tendons, which can help reduce pain associated with gout.
It can also help to reduce inflammation in the joints, which can help reduce the swelling and tenderness in the affected area. Collagen also helps to promote better digestion, which can help gout patients absorb more nutrients from their food.
Bone broth is also a great source of glucosamine, which is a natural compound found in cartilage. Glucosamine helps to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with gout, as well as improve joint function. It can also help to reduce the risk of gout flares by helping to reduce the amount of uric acid in the body.
Vitamins and Minerals
Interestingly, the amount of nutrients in bone broth, especially minerals, may not be as high as many people believe or are lead to believe.
For example, the USDA National Nutrient Database and an in-depth 1934 breakthrough study by King’s College Hospital, London, show that some nutrients may be somewhat limited in bone broth compared to other food sources.
The amount of vitamins and minerals are largely dependent on the amount and type of bones, the amount of any residual meat and connective tissue, simmer time, and additional ingredients, such as vinegar, onions, celery, carrots, etc., and herbs.
Nonetheless, you’ll find reasonable amounts of important vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin K, in bone broth.
- Vitamin A helps to strengthen bones, which can help reduce the pain associated with gout.
- Vitamin B helps to reduce inflammation, which can help reduce the swelling and tenderness in the affected area.
- Vitamin C helps to support the immune system, which can help reduce the risk of gout flares.
- Vitamin K helps to support healthy bones and improve joint function, which can help reduce the pain associated with gout.
…and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, too.
- Calcium is important for maintaining healthy bones, which can help reduce the pain associated with gout.
- Magnesium helps to reduce inflammation, which can help reduce the swelling and tenderness in the affected area.
- Phosphorus helps to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which can help gout patients absorb more nutrients from their food.
Finally, bone broth is alkaline and may help to balance the acidic environment associated with inflammation in the body.
So, as far as gout is concerned, bone broth would seem to be a helpful addition to a healthy gout diet.
Except that we haven’t considered bone broth’s purine content…
Purines in Bone Broth
One would guess that, since the bones have been stripped of meat, the broth would have way less purines than the original meat.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find “bone broths” listed in any purine tables to verify such an assumption. I’m not saying such tables don’t exist, just that I haven’t yet come across one.
However, I did discover a recent study (2021) that demonstrates that Chinese chicken broth (made from stripped chicken carcasses) contains “a significant amount of purines”.
Is there any reason to believe, then, that broth made from the bones of other food sources would be any different?
Bone Broth in Moderation?
In order to balance the health benefits of bone broth with a potential gout risk, it’s probably better to err on the side of caution and treat bone broth in the same way we would treat the bone’s meat.
For example, it’s generally recommended to avoid foods with a high purine content (e.g., organ meats, game, and seafood) and limit the intake of moderate-purine foods (e.g., red meat, poultry and some types of seafood).
In this case, then, we would avoid bone broth made from the bones of high-purine meats and limit the amount of bone broth made from the bones of moderate-purine meats.
So, broth made from the bones of high-purine foods, like wild boar, squirrel, quail, partridge, and pheasant, are probably best avoided.
Bone broth made from the bones of moderate-purine foods, such as beef, lamb, pork, hare, rabbit and venison, may be consumed in moderation. Many people suggest drinking one cup of bone broth a day.
That being said, if you’re really interested in incorporating bone broth into your gout diet, it’s a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for guidance.
They can help you to understand how much bone broth, and type, is safe for you to consume.
Avoid These Mistakes When Making Bone Broth
Who Should Not Take Bone Broth
Bone broth is generally considered safe, however, people with kidney disease should not drink bone broth. Additionally, those with a sensitivity or intolerance to MSG should avoid it due to its high levels of glutamate.
Finally, it’s important to note that gout is treatable, and the risk of developing gout can be reduced by making lifestyle changes such as:
- maintaining a healthy weight
- limiting/avoiding alcohol, especially beer
- avoiding high-purine foods, such as game, organ meats, and seafood
- limiting moderate-purine foods, like red meat, poultry and some types of seafood
- avoiding/limiting sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup, e.g., sugary drinks
- staying hydrated