Indigestion: Expert gives advice on how to treat symptoms
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The word ‘fat’ has negative connotations, but fat is an essential part of a healthy diet. When fat is digested properly the body is able to fight inflammation, and it receives plenty of moisture and nourishment in the process. The health benefits of consuming healthy fats such as nuts and avocado are endless, but these health benefits can be lost if the body can’t digest fats effectively. Express.co.uk chatted to Leyla Moudden, Naturopath and Director of Education at Enzymedica UK, to find out the seven signs your body is not digesting fat properly.
The clearest and most obvious sign that a person is not digesting fats well is that their stools begin to float in the toilet bowl, according to Leyla.
The Naturopath said: “Stools that float tend to leave a grease-like substance on the surface of the water, are paler in colour than usual and keep returning to the surface after you flush.
“If you are digesting healthy fats properly, your digestive system will produce well-formed, mid to deep brown coloured stools that produce a smell.
“An occasional episode of floating stools is not something to worry about, but consistently floating stools typically indicates that you are not digesting the fats you are eating.”
Heartburn after you eat
When heartburn is fat-related, it will be triggered by consuming oily or fried foods.
However, heartburn can also be triggered by many things such as eating too quickly, not chewing food thoroughly, experiencing a food intolerance or when taking certain medications.
Leyla said: “If you experience heartburn, check for a relationship between what you are eating and the onset of your heartburn.
“If your heartburn is triggered by highly processed foods which tend to contain ingredients like a rapeseed or sunflower oil, or fried foods or naturally fatty foods like olive oil, you may have a fat digestion issue.”
Pain under the rib cage
If your body has difficulty producing fat-digesting enzymes, you might experience a build-up of gasses with low-grade inflammation.
This can cause pain under the right side of the rib cage, which typically occurs up to 40 minutes after eating and is specifically related to eating fatty foods.
Leyla advised: “Consistent and ongoing pain with no apparent cause should be investigated by a qualified healthcare professional.”
You have had your gall bladder removed
The gallbladder releases acid which enables fat digestion.
Leyla expanded: “So, if you have had your gallbladder removed then digesting fat is exceptionally challenging, if not impossible, without appropriate enzyme food supplements.”
A common sign of difficulty with digesting fat is dry, dull skin that scars easily and is slow to heal.
Skin is a fatty, water-insoluble barrier that protects the interior of our body from the outside world. To act as an effective barrier, it needs a steady supply of essential fatty acids which are derived from dietary fats.
They are named ‘essential’ because our body can’t create them by itself, and they must be consumed from our diet.
These essential fatty acids have many names, the most recognisable of which are Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Leyla said: “A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to skin that is dry, scaly and itchy, and that scars easily.
“As well as essential fatty acids, critical skin nutrients such as Vitamin A and Vitamin E require good fat metabolism if they are to reach the body.
“Fats that are good for skin health include healthy oils such as olive, coconut, flax, avocado and walnut oils, whereas less healthy oils such as trans-fats found in margarine and processed foods, or fats that are heated and used for deep-fat frying have an inflammatory effect on the skin.”
The human body is designed to generate energy from everything we eat, including fats.
Leyla said: “If you are not eating carbohydrates, your body will use fat to generate energy.
“Having low energy whilst eating a good diet points to poor digestive capacity, and if you have plenty of healthy fats in the diet, you should not be running out of energy easily.”
The body creates its cells by making copies of existing cells to create new cells.
To do this, the body requires fat (lipids), protein, carbohydrate, minerals and nutrients.
For example, for building muscle the body needs more protein and for healthy reproductive hormones, the body needs more lipids.
The hormones that rely on lipids for healthy production are oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone and the active form of Vitamin D.
Leyla said: “If the body is not able to access these lipids, hormonal imbalance can occur leading to reproductive issues such as irregular periods, difficulties conceiving and PMS for women, and low sex drive, loss of muscle strength and testicular enlargement for men.
“If you suspect that you may be having problems digesting fats, a full-spectrum lipase containing supplement such as Enzymedica LypoGold, which will give your body the enzyme support it needs to digest fat more effectively.”
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