You’re Eating Fat, But Are You Digesting It?

Are You Digesting Your Fats - Simply Nourished Wellness

Last week I wrote about 3 Reasons You Should Be Eating Fat. If you haven’t had a chance to check that out, I recommend you read that along with this article as the two tie together nicely. Plus there’s a great free resource on Eating Healthy Fats available for you as well!

So, fat is super important for your body. And perhaps you’ve been upping your fats & moving away from the low-fat mindset that has been drilled into us for many years. Some people find that even when they are eating healthy fats, they still experience related to fat deficiency. This could mean that you aren’t digesting your fats well. If you’ve been eating healthy fats but are still experiencing things like these, you may need to address fat digestion:

  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Slow healing
  • Hair loss
  • Heat/cold intolerance
  • Decreased resistance to infection
  • Light colored and/or floating stool
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inflammation

How Fat Is Digested

Let’s take a step back to review how fat is digested. Because so many health issues begin with digestive problems. It’s the first place I start looking when people come to me with health concerns. Your liver creates bile, which is stored in the gallbladder. It helps digest and absorb fats as well as fat soluble vitamins. This bile is needed to properly emulsify and absorb fat. It breaks the fat down into fatty acids and glycerol molecules. In the small intestine, some of these fatty acids are taken to the liver and others end up in the lymphatic system.

What Goes Wrong

Problems can begin when the bile is either thick/viscous or isn’t released properly. This dysfunction often begins because of low fat diets or a diet with rancid or bad fats (see previous blog for more on what fats to choose).

So how does low fat = poor fat digestion? Well, fats are primarily digested by the bile salts as well as pancreatic lipase. The bile is created in the liver and stored in the gall bladder out of healthy fats from our diet. When we eat low fat or fats that are oxidized/rancid, it causes the bile to become thick/viscous. Part of this is due to lack of good fat to make up healthy bile, and the other part is due to the gallbladder not being stimulated to release bile often due to a low fat diet. Instead, the bile sits in the gall bladder. When the bile is then needed to digest fats you ingest, the gallbladder has a hard time moving that thick bile out, which means that the proper bile is not there to digest those fats you just ingested. It’s a vicious cycle at this point since you need to digest healthy fats to make good bile! Additionally, when bile concentration is too high, it leads to the formation of gallstones.

In the end, these undigested fats end up in the colon, where they can become rancid and toxic, which is also a stress to your liver and the rest of your digestive system.

In my last post on the importance of fats, I touched on how fats are important for inflammation and anti-inflammation in the body. You can read more about it in that post, but I will add here that proper fat digestion is needed to create the prostaglandins that are responsible for that inflammation/anti-inflammation. This is why poor fat digestion is related to things like slow wound healing & inflammation.

No Gallbladder?

If you have found yourself, at this point in your life, without a gallbladder, you are not alone. Gallbladder removal has become more common, and sadly some doctors don’t work with patients to help fix the issues with the gallbladder, and instead opt for removal. Yes, sometimes it is necessary, but I always encourage people to address the cause of dysfunction through nutrition – many times the gallbladder can be spared! If you are in this place right now, shoot me a message – I’d love to chat with you about your options.

That said, if you do not have a gall bladder, it is very important to be supplementing with digestive enzymes of some sort to be sure that your fats are being properly digested & absorbed. See the supplements section below for more on options for that.

Are You Digesting Your Fats - Simply Nourished Wellness

Creating Healthy Bile

So what can you do to make sure your bile is in top shape for fat digestion? Thankfully there are a few easy ways to get your fat digestion on the right track!

1. Eat Healthy Fats

Eating healthy fats is one of the best ways to make sure you are giving your body the ingredients for healthy bile. Some of my favorite choices are Olive Oil, Unrefined Coconut Oil, Butter, Ghee, & Avocado Oil. Download my free Healthy Fat Cheat Sheet below to have a handy list of great fat choices and which to use for hot vs. cold cooking.

2. Eat For Better Bile

If you’ve been eating low fat for a while, or if you suspect your bile might be on the thick side, one of the best foods you can eat to help promote healthy bile production is beets (or more accurately, the betaine in the beets)! Eat beets roasted, steamed, on your salad, or added to smoothies. You can find powdered beet to add to smoothies as well.

3. Supplement

While whole foods are always a #1 choice for improving health, sometimes supplementing can help give your body a jump start towards healing. This is a personal choice and can vary from person to person whether it is a good option. That said, one great option is to take powdered beet capsules. It’s a great way to get that beet in without the taste of beet (in case you aren’t a fan!).

Two other great supplements from Biotics that I like are Beta-TCP and Beta Plus. These are great options for promoting healthy bile production. Beta TCP is an all around good option for most, and Beta Plus is a great option for those who have had their gallbladder removed. Two other great pancreatic enzyme supplements for no gallbladder are NOW Pancreatin and Thorne Dipan-9 Pancreatin Enzymes.

As always, with supplementing, be sure to check with your health care provider before adding in any new supplements. Also, with supplements to encourage healthy bile, be sure that your digestive system is running properly so that you are eliminating bowel movements regularly before beginning the supplements. Viscous, stagnant bile can have toxins, and thinning it can have a detox effect on the body. You want to be sure your digestive system is moving along nicely so that you can properly eliminate these toxins. Be sure to drink lots of water and keep your body moving.

Are You Digesting Your Fats - Simply Nourished Wellness

Implementing some of those steps above will help keep your bile running smooth and your fats digesting. But sometimes digestive issues can require more in-depth support and more digging to find the root cause. If you are at this point or are overwhelmed with where to begin with changes, I can work with you to help you begin the journey to feeling better and solving those digestive worries that have you uncomfortable or running to the bathroom often. If you’re interested in working with me as a Nutritional Therapy client, you can check out the services I offer, or send me a message below or via my contact page to learn more about what it looks like to work with me and to see if it’s a good fit for you.

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