Many people suffer from fat malabsorption and don’t realize it. “Fat? Why would I want to absorb more fat? I am trying to lose weight and decrease my fat!” 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. Fat malabsorption is low small intestinal absorption of fats and other essential nutrients (1). It is just one of many malabsorption syndromes (2). Protein and carbohydrate malabsorption are also common. Your small intestine plays a vital role in your absorption of fats (lipids) and other nutrients (3).
Let’s examine what happens when you miss out on important health benefits due to fat malabsorption. Plus, you’ll receive my crucial advice on how to get healthy fats and how to find out if you have fat malabsorption.
Why are Healthy Fats Important?
Healthy fats help with many bodily functions.
-Weight loss process
-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 patients’ symptoms, fat malabsorption plays a huge role.
Fat Malabsorption Symptoms
Below are the most common symptoms and complaints associated with patients who have fat malabsorption.
-Brain fog and fatigue
-Bloating and nausea after eating
– Fecal fat (fatty stools) and/or diarrhea
-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 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.
Do you have digestive issues such as celiac disease, lactose intolerance, inflammatory bowel disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? You are at a higher risk of malabsorption issues.
- Increase the amount of healthy fats and fatty acids (Omega 3s) in your diet.
Healthy fats and Omega 3s are in avocadoes, walnuts, coconut oil, ghee, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. Eggs and fish (specifically fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna) to are other great healthy fats.. Slowly start to increase these foods in your diet to get their health benefits! The goal should be about 2 tablespoons 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.
Fat Malabsorption Treatment
- Increase hydrochloric acid in your diet.
Research shows that hydrochloric acids help increase stomach acidity and aid in digestion (4). A good start is to increase the amount of lemon and other citric fruits in your diet. I drink lemon water throughout the day, every day. Also, try drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in one glass of warm or room-temperature water each morning on an empty stomach. It will help improve your hydrochloric acid levels and aid in your absorption of all nutrients, particularly healthy fats.
As an alternative to dietary changes, you can also take a hydrochloric acid supplement to increase your levels. First, work with your provider to make sure you should use HCL supplementation.
- Improve your probiotic diversity.
Your gut is like an ecosystem. For it to work effectively, it needs a balance of many healthy probiotics. for improved digestion of fats and other nutrients (5). 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 probiotics through your diet. Therefore, 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 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.
Get Tested for Fat Malabsorption Syndrome
With these simple tips, you can start improving your fat absorption, improving your overall health, and preventing disease!
Speak with an expert integrative physician about fat malabsorption or other issues. CentreSpringMD is Atlanta’s leading integrative family medical center. Book an appointment now to get your digestion and health back on track.