A Natural Approach To Health
Living With Malabsorption Syndrome
I had a question the other day about malabsorption syndrome.
Malabsorption is the failure of your body to correctly absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food.
Even if your diet is adequate, if you have malabsorption you’ll probably develop some nutritional deficiencies.
This can be from impaired digestion, impaired absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream, or both.
Common symptoms of malabsorption syndrome include constipation or diarrhea, dry skin, fatigue, gas, mental difficulties like depression or an inability to concentrate, muscle cramps and/or weakness, premenstrual syndrome, steatorrhea (pale, bulky, fatty stools), a tendency to bruise easily, failure to grow normally, thinning hair, unexplained weight loss, and visual difficulties, especially problems with night vision.
You may have abdominal discomfort as well.
A combination of anemia, diarrhea, and weight loss is typical.
In addition, your body may begin to crave more and more food, often leading to eating many empty and/or fat calories.
Impaired digestion leads to malabsorption because if food isn’t broken down properly, the nutrients it contains can’t be absorbed through the lining of your intestines.
Your intestinal tract, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder all have parts to play in the uptake of nutrients.
Consequently, anything interfering with the proper functioning of any of these can lead to impaired digestion.
In addition to causing nutritional deficiencies, the failure to digest food properly causes gastrointestinal problems.
Undigested food ferments in your intestinal tract, causing gas, bloating, and abdominal pain and discomfort.
Even if food is properly digested, there may be a problem preventing nutrients from being taken up by your bloodstream to nourish your body tissues.
Damage to your intestinal walls, through which nutrients are absorbed, is one such problem.
Another problem is too-rapid intestinal transit time, which results in nutrients being passed out of your body as waste before they can be absorbed.
Regardless of how good your diet is or how many supplements you take, if you suffer from malabsorption syndrome, you’ll have nutritional deficiencies.
These in turn lead to other problems.
Besides being a serious condition in itself, malabsorption is a factor in other medical and physical problems.
Malabsorption is a common contributing factor to a wide range of disorders, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and all types of infection.
Malabsorption is also a significant factor in the overall aging process, and it may account for some people seeming to age more rapidly than others.
As you age, your intestinal tract gets “out of shape” and the lining becomes covered with hard fecal matter and mucus, which makes absorption of nutrients more difficult.
This is one reason older people need to eat more nutrients.
It’s also why it’s so important to keep your colon clean.
Fecal deposits can irritate the nerve endings in your colon, leading to spastic colon or inflamed colon.
And the impacted deposits decay over time, releasing toxins which can seep into your bloodstream, poisoning your organs and tissues.
People with malabsorption syndrome must take in more nutrients to compensate, and to treat and correct the problem.
In supplying these nutrients, it’s best to bypass the intestinal tract as much as possible.
When choosing supplements, sustained-release and large, hard tablets should be avoided.
Injections, powders, liquids, and lozenges provide nutrients in forms more easily assimilated.
To deal with malabsorption syndrome it’s beneficial to:
*Drink 6-8 cups of liquid daily, including juices, quality water, and herbal teas. Use barley malt, a small amount of honey, or nut or soymilk for sweeteners, if necessary.
*Alfalfa, dandelion root, fennel seed, ginger, and nettle are rich in minerals and can help your body absorb nutrients.
*Aloe vera and peppermint aid digestion.
*Black pepper contains piperine, which helps digest and absorb some nutrients.
*Buchu decreases inflammation of your colon and mucous membranes.
*Irish moss and rhubarb are good for colon disorders.
*Yellow dock improves colon and liver function.
*Follow the dietary recommendations below for at least 30 days to give your colon a chance to heal and to cleanse the walls of hard matter and mucus. After 30 days, you can gradually reintroduce the eliminated foods back into your diet; however, don’t add them back too quickly or all at once. Instead, add small amounts of these foods, one at a time, back into your diet.
*Eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in fats. Include in your diet well-cooked brown rice, millet, oatmeal, and steamed vegetables.
*Eat plenty of fruits (except citrus fruits).
*Consume fresh papaya and pineapple often. Chew 4-6 papaya seeds after meals.
*Eat broiled, steamed, or baked whitefish 3 times a week.
*Don’t eat large meals, because it places too much stress on your digestive system. Instead, eat smaller portions of food throughout the day.
*Don’t eat wheat products until healing is complete.
*Avoid products containing caffeine, which interferes with iron absorption. These include teas, coffee, colas, chocolate, many processed foods, and some over-the-counter medications (read labels).
*Keep fats and oils to an absolute minimum. Don’t eat any animal products (including butter), fried or fatty foods, or margarine. The fats in these foods exacerbate malabsorption problems by coating your stomach and small intestine, blocking the passage of nutrients. For the same reason, avoid all dairy products and processed food products, which encourage the secretion of mucus. Make sure to take supplemental calcium and vitamin D if you avoid all dairy products.
*Eliminate citrus fruits, shellfish, and white rice from your diet.
*Strictly avoid all junk foods, like potato chips and candy, as well as other products containing sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and preservatives.
*Avoid using mineral oil or other laxatives. Especially avoid using them for extended periods, as dependence and damage to your colon may result.
*If diarrhea or other symptoms of digestive disturbance occur for longer than 3 days, call your health care provider. Also consult a professional if you notice black and tarry or bright red stools, or if digestive problems are accompanied by severe abdominal pain or a fever of over 101 degrees F.
*If a change of diet and the correct supplements don’t improve your health status in a few months, consult your physician. You may have a malabsorption problem requiring medical attention.
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