Intolerance to fatty foods symptoms include:
- An upset stomach after eating greasy foods
- Motion sickness
- Light or clay-colored stools
- Digestive problems / Sluggish bowel movements
- Dry skin
- Have a history of morning sickness
- Stools that are greasy, shiny, or frequently float
- Constipation and diarrhea
An intolerance to fatty foods indicates that something is not right. At the same time, healthy fats are essential in the body, and we want to be consuming them daily, so it is also critical that you are digesting and utilizing these fats properly.
Why are you not digesting fats?
It is important to closely examine your food sensitivities to decipher if they could be symptoms of not digesting fats rather than a food intolerance itself. Do the offending foods tend to be high in fat, such as avocado, nuts or nut butter, red meat, fatty fish, fast food, vegetable oils or butter, whole-fat dairy products, or eggs?
These all contain high amounts of fat. Keeping a food diary can help identify fatty food intolerance symptoms that cause reactions like stomach pain, nausea, sluggish bowel movements, etc. It can help to pinpoint the food group that is causing your symptoms and mark the severity of your symptoms.
Do you want to know a simple hack on how to increase fat absorption? Don’t underestimate the importance of chewing your food well and eating just small amounts of foods at a time. Chewing your food will allow more surface area for the bile and digestive enzymes to break down your food more efficiently!
Bile is produced in the liver and released via the gallbladder to emulsify fats and allow more surface area for the lipase enzyme to break down the fats further. If you are having trouble digesting fats, it indicates an overburdened liver that may not efficiently produce bile salts. One of my favorite cleanses is the liver and gallbladder cleanse by Andreas Moritz.
I recommend reading his book The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse: An All-Natural, At-Home Flush to Purify and Rejuvenate Your Body if you are interested in learning more. There are many success stories of people eliminating gallstones and improving liver and gallbladder function. I have done a more in-depth post on how to flush the liver and gallbladder.
The gallbladder stores bile from the liver; if gallstones have begun blocking bile ducts and interfering with bile flow, your body won’t be metabolizing and absorbing fats efficiently.
Someone suffering from a fat intolerance has difficulty digesting fats; these poorly digested fats can clog the lymph system and thus contribute to unwanted cellulite.
Benefits of improving bile flow
Bile is produced in the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the duodenum. Eating healthy fats daily helps ensure good bile flow, as fat in the diet stimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder.
The bile is more likely to become thick and vicious if fats are avoided and not released in sufficient amounts when needed. So don’t avoid all fats in an attempt to correct your intolerance; having both good bile production and flow is critical 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 both constipation and diarrhea or loose stools can be caused by insufficient bile and poor fat digestion.
I know this sounds contradicting, but I 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.
Ensuring optimal function of your gallbladder is also how to improve fat absorption and digestion. The gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine when food enters and begins digesting fats into fatty acids.
Dietary fat intake of essential fatty acids is crucial as the body cannot make them itself. Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to the proper function of cell membranes and their receptors throughout the body, preventing heart disease and inflammatory conditions. This is also why it is essential to rectify your fat intolerance if you have trouble digesting fats!
Bile acids also control gut bacteria overgrowth and inflammation by reducing bacteria in the biliary tract and intestine, mitigating foreign invaders, and optimizing your gut microbiome.
Bile acts as an emulsifying soap to break down fat into smaller particles for lipase enzymes. Lipase is an enzyme secreted by the pancreas to help digest fats after bile has first emulsified them into smaller fat molecules. It creates more surface area for the lipase enzymes to further digest the fats into fatty acids, which they can then get absorbed into the lymphatic system.
How to improve fat digestion naturally?
Utilizing a healthy diet and using food as medicine can be the best way to improve fat digestion naturally. Beets, for example, are my favorite superfood to improve fat digestion as beets help to support good bile flow by thinning it out.
Eating a simple salad made of one cup of grated beets with freshly squeezed lemon juice daily is fantastic for a sluggish gallbladder and digesting fats.
Or give your digestive system a break by preparing fresh vegetable juice. It is a delicious way to nourish your body and deliver nutrients into the cells fast; you can learn how to make the best gallbladder cleansing beet juice recipe here.
Eating artichokes increases bile production; try this low fodmap breakfast scramble with artichokes for a delicious breakfast to support a sluggish gallbladder.
It is also a good idea to incorporate dandelion root tea into your diet as it helps the body improve fat digestion by increasing bile flow. It has a bold earthy flavor that many people enjoy drinking in place of a morning coffee; as the roasted dandelion root gives a similar flavor profile without the jitters!
Research shows that berberine (a plant-based nutraceutical) is beneficial in stimulating a cell response of bile acid synthesis, generating bile flow. Berberine is traditionally used in Chinese and native American medicines for gastrointestinal inflammation. It is a bitter-tasting, yellow-colored chemical found in tree turmeric (different from turmeric root), goldenseal, oregon grape, and European barberry.
Eggs are another food with benefits concerning bile flow; they are one of the best sources of choline. If you are familiar with genetic SNPs, the PEMT (Phosphatidylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase) gene needs choline to make phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a critical nutrient needed to promote bile flow and digest fats better.
I always suggest that clients consider investing in customized gene testing to determine any gene mutations or variations that they may have. This can be a crucial factor in determining the underlying cause of digestive issues, including intolerance to fatty foods. Some individuals have SNPs (gene mutations) that inhibit them from metabolizing certain nutrients in foods, and genetic testing provides insight into blocked pathways in the body.
Anyone with a fatty food intolerance will want to know if they have SNPs in the PEMT gene, as mutations in this gene are associated with a sluggish gallbladder that leads to people having trouble digesting fats.
Dr. Ben Lynch has some great information regarding gene testing and offers a customized genetic report which will show individual gene mutations or variations that you may have. Generating your strategene report requires you to complete genetic testing through either Ancestry DNA or 23andMe, which you enter for the customized genetic report. These are collected through saliva samples, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t keen on blood tests!
This post is all about what you can expect from your strategene report.
How to digest fats better through supplementation
My top 3 supplements to improve bile flow and help with poor fat digestion include Gallbladder Nutrients, Ox Bile, and Optimal PC. These can all be purchased through Seeking Health, a brand I trust for top-quality supplements.
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 for people who have a fatty food intolerance. It contains the following:
- 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 that 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 requires additional support to digest fats. By supplementing with this, you are bringing in external bile (ox bile) to help improve fat digestion. Ox bile is best taken with meals containing fat to digest these fats.
The Optimal PC is another phenomenal supplement that I continuously see results in improving symptoms of not digesting fats. It contains phosphatidylcholine, which is required to keep bile flowing smoothly from the gallbladder to help improve fat digestion.
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