I hear this from so many patients, and it is such a misconception. Fats have gotten a bad rap, and it is time to change that! Healthy fats are important for many components of our health:
-Blood sugar stability
-Absorption of vital vitamins and minerals
-Hair and skin quality
Fat digestion refers to your ability to break down these healthy fats, and fat absorption refers to your body’s ability to take in and use these fats. The ability to absorb and digest fat is very important for your overall health and quality of life. In fact, when looking holistically at many of my patient’s symptoms, fat malabsorption [as in not absorbing] plays a huge role.
Below are the most common symptoms and complaints associated with patients who have fat malabsorption:
-Bloating and nausea after eating
-Difficulty losing weight or unexplained weight-loss
-Issues with memory or attention
-Dry skin and hair
Do any of these symptoms sound like you or someone you know? Both integrative and functional medicine, both question how the body is breaking down and absorbing fats! If you have these symptoms, don’t just let them go. Fat malabsorption can lead to future disease and is more prevalent than one may believe.
Below are 4 ways to help improve your fat digestion and absorption:
- Increase the amount of healthy fats in your diet.
Healthy fats are in foods like avocado, walnuts, coconut oil, ghee, and cold-pressed olive oil. You may also add eggs, and fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna to help increase the healthy fats in your diet. Slowly start to increase these foods in your diet in order to get their healthy benefits! The goal should be about 2 tbsp. of some form of healthy fat daily. I personally put coconut oil in my smoothie or coffee to ensure I am getting enough each day.
All fats are not created equally so continue to avoid saturated fats in your diet. These include animal fats, skins on meat, canola oil and fried foods.
- Increase hydrochloric acid in your diet.
Hydrochloric acids help increase stomach acidity and aid in digestion. In order to begin increasing hydrochloric acid you can start by increase the amount of lemon and citric fruits in your diet. I drink lemon water throughout the day, every day. Also, try drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted with four tablespoons of warm or room-temperature water each morning on an empty stomach. It will help improve your hydrochloric acid levels. This will help aid in your absorption of all nutrients, and particularly your healthy fats.
As an alternative to dietary changes you can also take a supplement of hydrochloric acid to increase your levels, but first work with your provider to make sure you should use HCL supplementation.
- Improve your probiotic diversity.
Your gut is like an ecosystem and to work effectively it needs a balance of many healthy probiotics in order to improve your digestion of fats and other nutrients. One way to improve your gut’s diversity is by increasing fermented foods in your diet like homemade sauerkraut kefir, kombucha and yogurt. It can be hard to get enough through your diet so you can also take a high-quality probiotic supplement on a regular basis to help.
- Take digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes are typically produced in your gallbladder and pancreas to break down foods. When you have inflammation in your gut for any reason you may need more enzymes to help with digestion. The most effective enzymes to help with fat digestion and absorption include: ox bile, lipase and amylase. Find a digestive enzymes with all three of these components to help with fat absorption while you improve your overall gut health. Take these enzymes with each meal that contains a higher fat content.
With these simple tips you can start improving your fat absorption, improving your overall health and preventing disease!
|Christina Connors Grace is a certified family nurse practitioner and registered nurse. She brings a passionate, caring approach to patient care with a wealth of experience in women’s and family medicine.|
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