Low FODMAP Bone Broth

Bone broth is an old-fashioned dietary staple that is enjoying new-fangled popularity as a way to promote gut health. For my medically reviewed article on the science behind bone broth and gut health see:

If bone broth sounds like something you would like to try for your IBS, I think you will find that this recipe will surprise you as to how easy it is to prepare. If your system is super-sensitive, you could prepare your broth using just the bones and water. But if you think you would enjoy some extra flavoring, you can have confidence that all of the ingredients in the recipe are low in FODMAPs and therefore should not set off unwanted symptoms.

Please note that this recipe has been designed with FODMAP information available at the time of its publication through the use of the Monash University Low-FODMAP app, but the broth itself has not been tested for its FODMAP content. Once your broth has been prepared, please start with sipping a small amount to make sure that it sits well with your system.

Adapted from: “Gut-Healing Bone Broth Recipe

Interested in Oil Pulling?

Brave oil pulling selfie

When you become a happy health nut you find yourself trying things that in the past would have made you shake your head with total disbelief. For me, the wackiest thing I am now doing is “oil pulling.” Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice for oral health. It involves putting a small amount of oil (typically sesame or coconut) in your mouth and swishing it around for 10 to 15 minutes a day. The practice is thought to “pull” bacteria and other microorganisms out of your mouth. Proponents rave about a wide variety of benefits, ranging from the more believable healthier gums with whiter and stronger teeth, to the less believable claims that it treats almost every kind of human ailment.

Given the buzz about oil pulling and my long-standing lack of confidence in my flossing ability, I decided to give it a try. I chose coconut oil and was surprised by the pleasant, mild taste, as I generally dislike anything that has coconut in it. Although you are supposed to oil pull first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, I didn’t see how that 10 to 15 minutes of not being able to talk was going to work in my household. Instead, I chose to oil pull during my shower, which has proven to work really well. The most important thing to remember about oil pulling is that you must never spit the oil down your drain as the oil will firm up again when cooled and clog your pipes.  The other thing to remember is if your jaw is getting tired, you are doing it too hard.  Just gently swish the oil around.

Although the scientist in me squirms at the lack of research on the subject, in my own “clinical study of one”, I cannot deny the results. Within days, my gums looked healthier. By the end of the first week, my green tea-stained teeth were noticeably whiter. Most dramatically, a tooth that was causing me such pain that I figured I was looking at a root canal has grown very quiet. If that last one due to the oil pulling I cannot say for sure, but my checkbook is very happy to not have to find the money for significant dental work.

I recently met a dental hygienist who stated that she wanted to do a clinical trial on the subject. She took one look at my mouth and said that she never would have known I was a mouth-breather as my gums no longer had the tell-tale signs. That’s a pretty good endorsement right there.

If you think that oil-pulling is for you, the following article is a good place to start:


What’s New with IBS

Have you noticed how times of great life changes often trigger some reflection on the past? For me, my leaving my position at About.com has brought to mind how much has changed on the IBS scene since I wrote my first book, “Breaking the Bonds of Irritable Bowel Syndrome” in 2000. I thought you might find this interesting…

When I was doing research for “Breaking the Bonds,” info on IBS was SO limited. Here is where things were at:

  1. IBS was still seen as something “all in your head”
  2. The only treatments were psychological – CBT and hypnotherapy
  3. Celiac disease was called “celiac sprue” and was considered very, very rare
  4. Food was considered to have no relevance in IBS

Where things are at now:

  1. IBS is now recognized as a complex disorder, involving dysfunction in many body symptoms
  2. Pharmaceutical companies are pouring money into developing IBS medications with a few already on the market
  3. Celiac disease affects a large part of the population and is under-diagnosed in people who have IBS
  4. The low-FODMAP diet not only recognizes that certain foods are IBS triggers, but offers an effective non-medication treatment for IBS

What is new:

  1. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) long dismissed by medical practitioners as being related to IBS, is now recognized as the underlying cause for a surprisingly high number of IBS patients. Even better, it is treatable! If you have a lot of bloating, or your IBS developed after a bad stomach bug, you may want to ask to be tested for SIBO.
  2. Bile Acid Diarrhea (BAD), once just a theory developed by small-town physicians is now also being recognized as being behind IBS in approximately 1/3 of people diagnosed with IBS. If you experience diarrhea right after eating or no longer have a gallbladder, you may want to talk to your doctor about BAD. Like SIBO, it is treatable!
  3. Health Coaching! When I first started to write about IBS, the only tool in my bag for supporting my IBS clients was CBT. Luckily, health coaching is a booming area of growth and has become an effective way to show people how to care for themselves so as to heal from chronic illnesses like IBS. If you are interested in working with me as your coach, click here for an initial consultation.


How to Make Homemade Kefir

Straining kefir grainsIf you have been reading my digestive health articles, you will certainly have heard me recommend fermented foods. Fermented foods are filled with a wide variety of strains of probiotics – so, so good for your digestive and overall health.

After I read Chris Kresser’s article on the health benefits of kefir, a fermented milk product, I have been a fan. I was particularly interested in the vitamin K2 of kefir – because it appears to be important for vitamin D to do its thing – and I always test low on vitamin D. I started buying store-bought brands of kefir, but didn’t always love the ingredients label. However, I read in so many places that it is simple to make your own kefir – so I thought I would give it a try.

I ordered my grains from a company called Cultures for Health as they got good reviews on Amazon. I followed their directions exactly. The first few days, nothing happened  and I poured a lot of milk down the drain. This is apparently normal as the freeze-dried grains need to become activated.

But on day three, the milk thickened up – I was ridiculously happy about this – I am not sure why – but it gave me such a thrill. Don’t laugh at me – but it felt like I had created life! Here is what it looked like:

kefir in mason jar

Then I ran into a snag. The grains no longer seemed to be thickening up the kefir and I was afraid to drink the milk, fearful that I was drinking milk that had gone bad instead of kefir itself! I wrote the company – their customer service was fantastic! They helped me to understand that part of the problem may have been that my house is too cold (It is cold! I once had a goldfish that lived nine years!) Once I moved the jar into the warmest room of the house, it has been consistently giving me delicious kefir each morning! My green smoothies have never tasted better:

kefir green smoothie

As you know, I am a pretty busy person. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it only takes me about two minutes each morning to strain the grains out of the kefir and place them into some fresh milk to create tomorrow’s kefir. It feels a bit like taking care of a pet – and it makes me ridiculously happy to see the grains growing and thriving.

But as a digestive health expert, I know health is all about bacteria. One of the reasons that I love composting is because I know that my kitchen scraps create bacteria for my garden soil that then nurture the plants that nurture my body.  When I say making kefir makes me ridiculously happy, it is because my feeding these pet-like grains gets rewarded with them feeding me health-enhancing bacteria. Circle of life…

Hopefully, I have inspired you to start making your own kefir. Learn from my mistakes!

  1. Kefir cannot be cultivated from ultra-pasteurized milk. I had to search high and low to find pasteurized milk. I eventually found some at Trader Joe’s.
  2. Kefir needs a warm, stable temperature, somewhere in the range of 68°- 85°F. You can click here to buy the heating strip that works wonders for me in my cold house.
  3. As soon as it smells sweet, it is kefir and not rotten milk!
  4. I like the taste better after it has been chilled. So each morning I put the new batch in the refrigerator and drink yesterday’s batch.

NOTE:  The wonderful researchers at Monash University tested milk kefir and found that in spite of the fermentation process, it still tests high for lactose. So if you have lactose intolerance, you may want to try making kefir with water,  coconut milk or coconut water. Cultures for Health offers starter kits for all of these.