Do you have fat digestion problems and symptoms of not digesting fats such as:
- an upset stomach after eating greasy foods
- nausea or motion sickness
- light or clay colored stools
- sluggish bowel movements
- dry skin
- have a history of morning sickness
- have stools that are greasy, shiny or frequently float
- constipation and or diarrhea
If so, you may not be digesting fats optimally as these are all signs and symptoms that relate to poor fat digestion and a sluggish gallbladder.
While healthy fats are essential in the body, and we want to be eating them daily, it is also critical that you are digesting fats.
Why you need good bile flow and the lipase enzyme to improve fat digestion
To improve fat absorption and digestion, you must have good bile production and flow from the gallbladder along with the secretion of the lipase enzyme from the pancreas.
Lipase is an enzyme secreted by the pancreas to help with digesting fats after bile has first emulsified the fats into smaller molecules. The lipase enzyme improves fat absorption by breaking fats down into fatty acids that are small enough to be absorbed.
Bile acts as an emulsifying soap to break down fat into smaller fat particles in which lipase enzymes (enzymes that break down fat) have more surface area to further digest fats. Fats then get absorbed into the lymphatic system.
But if someone has difficulty digesting fats, the poorly digested fats can clog the lymph and thus contribute to cellulite.
Bile is also needed to breakdown and absorbs the essential fatty acids, which are omega-three and omega-six fatty acids. Dietary intake of these fats is crucial as the body cannot make the essential fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids are also known as long-chain fatty acids, which means that they will require bile and lipase enzymes for digesting these fats.
So often, we hear that we need to be taking those anti-inflammatory fish oils, which is true. But first, you need to make sure that you are not wasting your money and that you can digest and absorb the fish oils to reap the benefits.
How to improve fat digestion
Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, then released from the gallbladder into the duodenum. Eating small amounts of healthy fats every day helps to ensure good bile flow as the presence of fat stimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder. Bile is more likely to become thick and vicious if fats are avoided and not released in sufficient amounts when needed.
Having both good bile production and flow is key to optimizing fat digestion.
Bile is also needed for optimal bowel movements as it is the bile that stimulates peristalsis and keeps things moving along the digestive tract. Symptoms of constipation and diarrhea can be caused by insufficient bile and poor fat digestion.
I know confusing but if your bowel movements are not optimal, always consider a sluggish gallbladder as the root of the problem for someone who has symptoms of not digesting fats and sub-optimal bowel movements.
Foods that improve fat digestion
Beets are my favorite superfoods to improve fat digestion as beets help to support good bile flow and thin it out. Eating 1 cup of grated beets with some fresh squeezed lemon juice everyday day is fantastic for a sluggish gallbladder and digesting fats.
Eating artichoke and drinking dandelion root tea are my other secrets to help improve fat digestion. Well, not really, as I tell everyone I work with this little secret, but not everyone knows these clinical pearls of wisdom.
This low fodmap breakfast scramble with artichoke is a delicious breakfast to support a sluggish gallbladder.
Eggs are one of the best sources of choline, which is needed by the PEMT gene to make phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a critical nutrient needed to promote bile flow to digest fats better.
Supplements for fat digestion
My top 3 supplements to improve bile flow and help with poor fat digestion include gallbladder nutrients, ox bile, and optimal PC, all by Seeking Health.
Gallbladder Nutrients by Seeking Health provides a unique blend of five nutrients and nine supportive herbs designed to support the gallbladder and liver in healthy bile formation and flow. These nutrients help improve fat absorption and digestion.
- Glycine and Taurine are the building blocks of bile salts, which are necessary for bile formation
- Choline helps facilitate the production of phosphatidylcholine, a major component of bile
- Betaine Anhydrous supports the formation of additional phosphatidylcholine via methylation
- Magnesium may help to support gallbladder contractions, which aid in the release of bile from the gallbladder
- Bitter herbs including Burdock Extract, Artichoke, Dandelion Root, and Bupleurum help to support healthy liver bile secretion
- Milk Thistle is a powerful liver antioxidant which may help to improve the liver in producing bile salts and delivering them to the gallbladder
- Peppermint and Ginger can provide digestive comfort while stimulating digestion and bile production
- Slippery Elm and Marshmallow Root to help soothe and protect the intestinal tract
Using ox bile for fat digestion support is best for anyone who does not have a gallbladder or anyone who requires additional support to digest fats.
By using ox bile, you are bringing in external bile to help improve fat digestion. Ox bile is best taken with meals containing fat for the purpose of digesting fats.
Optimal PC by Seeking Health is another phenomenal supplement that I continuously see results with as it contains phosphatidylcholine, which is required to keep bile flowing smoothly from the gallbladder to help improve fat digestion.