Typical signs are:
- Greasy, smelly stool
- Pale-colored and/or floating stools
- Gas and belching after meals. Some people experience nausea.
- Very dry skin (indicates fat isn’t being absorbed or not enough is being consumed)
- Gallbladder pain (right side, under ribs)
- Hormone imbalances, as fat is necessary to synthesise new hormones and eliminate old hormones
Why are you not absorbing fats?
Fat malabsorption is caused by poor digestion.This could be caused by:
- Liver congestion – the liver can’t synthesize good bile
- Poor quality bile – the gallbladder can’t release thick, sticky bile
- Lack of pancreatic enzymes – these enzymes, along with bile, digest fat
- Damage to the intestine from infection, inflammation, injury, or surgery
- Conditions such as celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, and dairy protein allergies
Fat digestion- in an optimal world:
- The liver synthesises bile. Bile is a soap like substance secreted by the liver.The bile sucks up old hormones and toxins that need to leave the body. Then it shifts the bile to the gallbladder.
- The gallbladder stores bile and secretes it into the small intestine when we eat a meal with fat. The bile breaks down the fat, so we can absorb it, and then the toxins in the bile exit the body with the stool. When this works well, we absorb vital fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K more efficiently.
- The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine. Some of these enzymes, called lipolytic enzymes, further break down the fat and allow us to absorb it.
1. What to do if you suffer from fat-malabsorption:
Firstly, eat good fats such as:
- Butter, preferably from grassfed cows
- Ghee, preferably from grassfed cows
- Coconut Oil
- Pure olive oil
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Whole nuts and seeds, in moderation
- Cold-pressed nut and seeds, in small amounts
- Pastured whole eggs
- Meats and whole-fat dairy from grass-fed, pasture raised animals
Ensure you don’t fry your foods in vegetables oils as it changes the property of the oil. Use butter, ghee or coconut oil for baking and frying. Increase the amount of good fats slowely.
A note on Coconut oil
Coconut oil consists primarily of medium chain fatty acids. Coconut oil has the ability to fight yeast infections, boosts metabolism, increase weight loss, and supports skin health. One key feature of coconut oil is that it is absorbed without bile.
Yes that is true, so great for adding fats into your life, but the back side is that it does not stimulate bile. It is therefor important to eat other fats to stimulate bile production.
For my daughter, who have eaten coconut oil as her main fat source all her life, this back-clashed her fat-absorption. It took us ages to realise that she suffered as she gained weight steadily.
2. Beat it with Beets
Beetroots thins your bile and makes it flow better. Beets contain Betain (TMG) which in needed for optimal liver function (and methylation by reducing homocysteine). In addition,its rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, as well as carotene and B complex.
What can you do with beets: You can add beets into your juice, smoothie, roast it in the oven, put it into a chocolate cake and mix it into soups and stews. I have also bought beet powder to add in my smoothie in the morning.
3. Take ox bile supplements to improve fat malabsorption
Ox bile works similarly to human bile, by breaking down fats in your digestive tract. You can buy ox bile from a health food store or ask your practitioner to order you some. It is important to follow dosage recommendations. Take it before or with your meal. Use it for 2 weeks and up to 2-3 months. After 2-3 months, take a break from it for at least a couple of months, otherwise your body can get reliant on it and stop producing its own bile.
For kids- like my daughter, experiment with fixing a bit into almond butter. It does not taste great when opening the capusal.
4. Eat fermented foods
Fermented food are not only good for balancing stomach acid, bacteria in your gut, but they are also contain potent enzymes that stimulate the bile. Sauerkraut, yoghurts, kefir and pickles is your go to foods. Very simple to make with a tiny bit of preparations.
Bohn, L., Meyer, A. S., & Rasmussen, S. K. (2008). Phytate: impact on environment and human nutrition. A challenge for molecular breeding . Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B, 9(3), 165–191. http://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.B0710640
Figures collected from various sources. Inhibitory effect of nuts on iron absoprtion. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1988 47:270-4; J Anal At Spectrum. 2004 19,1330 –1334; Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 1994, 42:2204-2209.