Malabsorption is a condition that arises from the inability to absorb nutrients (proteins, fat and vitamins) and fluids from the small intestine. Fat malabsorption therefore, refers to a condition where fats are not properly digested and absorbed from the gut.
One of the most common symptoms associated with the condition is the production of light colored stool that has an extremely foul smell. Such stool tends to be soft and bulky as well, so much so that the stools do not flush and instead float or stick to the sides of the toilet bowl.
In addition to this, fat malabsorption is also accompanied by intense lethargy. This prevalent condition also interferes with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E and K, thus interfering with normal metabolic function. For this reason, it helps to know the underlying cause of the condition.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this condition. These range from poor dietary choices, disorders of the pancreas as well as liver disease. If you suspect that you may be suffering from fat malabsorption, consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Alongside the prescribed medication, you can also take the simple steps below to improve fat absorption naturally.
1. Make sure that your Diet is Rich in the Good Fats, but do this Gradually:
One of the most effective ways of treating fat malabsorption naturally is to slowly increase the amount of good fats in your diet. The key word here is ‘slowly’ simply because the rapid switch to higher fat may easily prolong the malabsorption.
The reason why this happens is because typically, the bile is thickened – the result of a low fat intake. For the most part, this transition is seamless, but many people experience severe symptoms of the condition. As a general guide, it is advisable to increase these amounts gradually. Do not go from just 10 grams of fat daily to 90 grams the next day.
Some excellent sources of healthy fats include pure olive oil, avocados/avocado oil, whole nuts and seeds as well as meat and whole-fat dairy from pasture-raised farm animals. Butter and ghee are also excellent options, and remember to go for grass-fed cows. All these are unprocessed sources. Avoid processed and non-traditional fats that include cottonseed oil, grape seed oil and canola oil among others.
2. Make Sure you Take Coconut Oil Daily:
Coconut oil is a popular remedy, thanks to its immense health benefits. It is one of the healthiest foods available, and this is attributed to its the presence of medium chain fatty acids. The structural makeup of coconut oil means that it is easily absorbed without the need for bile.
Even with this in mind, there are two important things to remember. If you suffer from fat malabsorption, you should be able to absorb some fat from the oil. There is a downside to this however, and that’s because, coconut oil’s structural makeup means it does not stimulate the production and release of bile.
For this reason, it is important to combine the coconut oil with the aforementioned sources of good fats. Other health benefits associated with coconut oil include healthy skin, weight loss and improved metabolism.
3. Consider Reducing the Amount of Healthy Whole Grains in your Diet:
Whole grains are recommended for their varied health benefits, but when one is suffering from fat malabsorption, this does more harm than good. This is because healthy whole grains are rich in anti-nutrient compounds. One of the most common is phytic acid that is known to place a lot of stress on the body. In addition to this, grains increase the risk of developing carbohydrate malabsorption.
The condition causes gradual damage to the microvilli – that is the structures that are tasked with the absorption of nutrients. This progressive damage increases the chances of developing a leaky gut.
Just as the name suggests, this condition causes undigested food to get into blood circulation, often leading to food allergies and inflammation in different parts of the body. With poor fat absorption, it is advisable to reduce the amount of healthy whole grains in the diet to prevent the aggravation of the condition.
4. Add Fermented Foods to your Diet to Manage Fat Malabsorption:
Fermented foods are among the richest sources of probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that improve the health of the gut and help restore balance in the digestive tract. It is also important to mention that in these raw foods, the extent of enzymatic activity increases exponentially during fermentation.
These enzymes are known to support the health and function of the pancreas which, as you may be well aware, is required for the proper digestion of fats. Your best bet would be probiotic yoghurt and fermented vegetables such as kimchi, pickles and sauerkraut. Kefir is also a nutrient-packed option, but make sure you go for the organic option. If you are in doubt, you can always opt to prepare your own healthy options at home.
5. Practice Mindfulness when Eating:
It seems rather obvious, but the body cannot digest any nutrients when one is stressed out. There is a biological explanation behind this. The activation of digestive juices is triggered when the body is in parasympathetic nervous system mode.
To put this in perspective, when you are stressed out, the body is in flight or fight mode – which is the sympathetic mode. The latter is known to worsen fat malabsorption. To effectively deal with this, consider practicing mindfulness when eating.
Sit down at meal times and switch off all distractions. Stop scrolling through the internet and turn your attention to tasting and chewing the food properly. A little gratitude never hurt anyone and it goes a long way in helping the body digest and absorb fats.
You may also consider supplementing with pancrealipase in addition to the natural methods outlined above. Pancrealipase, just as the name suggests, is a digestive enzyme that aids in fat digestion. It constitutes the enzyme sourced from porcine and is an excellent way to make the transition. Another alternative is the use of ox bile.
This bile, sourced from oxen, has an uncanny similarity to human bile, and this may help with digesting and absorbing fats from the gut. Consult your doctor for recommendations on how to take supplements especially if there are severe underlying conditions such as liver disease or pancreatic cancer.