Fat is a very important macronutrient that literally affects every component of our body. From the cell walls to the absorption of vitamins and minerals, fat is just as important as amino acids.
But, there are many people whose intestines are unable to absorb lipid (fat) molecules which can result in some serious problems. Fat malabsorption is an issue that I don’t think receives too much attention, but it is very prevalent and can cause premature aging and other deficiency related problems. Undigested fat can prevent the absorption of many fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A,D,E and K…affecting our body’s overall functioning. It can also result in bacterial overgrowth and cause excess water to be secreted in the colon, resulting in diarrhea.
How a normal functioning stomach digests fat
Fat molecules are not digested until it reaches our small intestine. Their inability to dissolve in water makes them a little hard to digest. So once the fat molecules reaches our small intestine, our liver together with gallbladder releases bile, which then mixes with the fat droplets, breaking them down into smaller molecules. This allows our stomach enzymes like pancreatic lipase to digest fat, breaking them into fatty acids and monoglycerides. Once broken down, they are absorbed by our digestive tract with ease.
Causes of Fat Malabsorption
Some causes of fat malabsorption include:
- Enzyme deficiencies
- Bile Salt Malabsorption
- Pancreatic insufficiencies
- Liver congestion
- Or other diseases affecting the GI Tract
An under-functioning liver is one of the main causes of fat intolerance. Liver is responsible for the synthesis of bile which is stored and released by the gall bladder. Bile emulsifies and breaks down the large fat molecules. During fat malabsorption, the gall bladder fails to release bile because its consistency is too thick and sticky, making it too difficult to be squeezed out. The toxins and chemicals then get reabsorbed into the body, because there is no bile to transport them out of the system.
A low fat diet can affect the quality of bile. This is because when we eat very little fat, the amount is not enough to signal the release of bile. So it remains stored in the gall bladder and turns into a thick paste. Then when we do eat a high fat meal, the sticky old bile fails to come out. So the fat goes through our system undigested.
Natural Ways to Heal Fat Malabsorption
If you think you have fat malabsorption, it can be dangerous to leave it untreated. Below you will find five very effective ways to correct this problem:
1. Eat a diet enriched with good fat
If you are on a low fat diet, slowly increase the amount of good fat in your diet. The bile in your body is stuck, and you need to very slowly introduce more fat to rectify this congestion. Foods with healthy fat includes olive oil, coconut oil, avocadoes, nuts, seeds, dark green vegetables, eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines etc.
Stay away from unhealthy and processed fats. These can make your problem even more severe.
2. Eliminate whole grain foods
A digestive system that is not functioning properly can become even more stressed in the presence of whole grain foods. These include healthy whole grain breads, pasta etc which contains anti-nutrient, phytic acid, that hinders the absorption of many minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron, exacerbating the deficiency even more.
The anti-nutrients in grains can also cause the leaky gut syndrome, which is a condition where holes start to appear on the membrane of your intestinal wall. This causes undigested foods, waste, harmful bacteria and other toxic substances to leak into the bloodstream, causing inflammatory bowel disorders.
3. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are strong detoxifiers and contain high amounts of probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) which is very important if you have an underperforming GI tract. Fermented foods include yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, kefir, kimchi, natto, buttermilk and tempeh. These food brings back balance to your digestive system. They aid in the digestion and absorption of the nutrients.
4. Take Pancrealipase supplements
This contains pancreatic enzymes that aids the digestion of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Pancrealipase is often prescribed to those who have digestive disorders. In those whose pancreas are unable to synthesize the necessary enzymes to digest the food, this supplement will help improve the digestive health.
5. Increase your hydrochloric acid uptake
Low amount of HCL can hinder digestion. Also known as gastric acid, HCL is responsible to activate the enzyme needed to convert fats into triglycerides, and proteins into amino acids. When our body is deficient in HCL, it can cause constipation, indigestion, bloating or gas. To rectify this problem, you can opt for HCL supplements, or for a more natural solution with manuka honey, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, Vitamin U- an enzyme found in cabbage or sea salt.
In the comments below, please share. Are you suffering from fat malabsorption? If yes, which of the above solutions do you look forward to trying?