Fats and fatty acids are obtained from high-fat foods such as avocados, cheese, nuts, and fatty fish. These dietary fats can further be classified as saturated fat, trans fat, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fats comprising omega-3 fatty acids.
Notably, digesting and absorbing these fats is crucial for overall health. Fat digestion is the body’s ability to break down healthy fats while fat absorption is the process by which digested fats are taken in and supplied to the rest of the body. Fats are digested by enzymes at different stages of the digestion process, starting from the mouth. Most of the digestion happens in the small intestines.
Even so, some people may have an impaired ability to digest and absorb fats properly. Food intolerances, small intestinal overgrowth, low pH value in the duodenum, and impaired lipid processing by bile acids can cause this.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve fat digestion and absorption in your body. Here are five tips to consider:
1. Take Bile Salts Supplements
Bile salts and gut health are quite related. Bile salts are produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder when not used. One of their primary functions is that it aids in the digestion of ingested fat.
Bile salts break down fat globules into tiny particles through emulsification. This increases the surface area of the fat and can be quickly digested by lipase, the main digestive enzyme that helps with fat digestion. Also, bile salts play a significant role in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, D, and K, magnesium, iron, and calcium.
So, when you have bile salt deficiency, it means your body is unable to produce and store enough bile salts to initiate the breakdown of fats and aid absorption. In that case, fats can accumulate in the intestines, and you may experience abdominal bloating, chronic diarrhea, stomach cramps, bad-smelling gas, and erratic bowel movements. Fortunately, people with bile salt deficiency can benefit from bile salt supplements. You can take them with a meal to improve the digestion of fats and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins present in food.
2. Consume Healthy Fats
Consuming healthy fats is another effective way to ensure your body easily digests and absorbs fats. That includes omega-three fatty acids, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats. Dietary experts suggest cutting back on trans and saturated fats as they’re considered bad for your gut health.
While it typically takes longer to digest fats, unhealthy fats mainly take a toll on your digestive system. Your body may have to work extra hard to break them down. Therefore, it’s best to increase healthy fats in your diet. The following are examples of foods rich in healthy fats:
- Vegetable oils like canola oil, olive oil, and sesame oil
- Fatty fish, including sardines, salmon, tuna, trout, and herring
- Nuts such as walnuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds
- Peanut butter and almond butter
- Seeds like pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower
Besides, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids provide additional health benefits. They can improve cardiovascular health, brain function, hair and skin quality, weight loss process, hormonal balance, memory, and blood sugar stability.
3. Improve Your Probiotic Diversity
For improved digestion and absorption of fats, your body requires a balance of many healthy probiotics. Probiotics can improve lipid metabolism through various functional properties, including the production of digestive enzymes. Also, they contain friendly bacteria that can enhance the utilization of nutrients and fats.
You can improve your probiotic diversity by increasing the intake of fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso. If you can’t get enough probiotics through your diet, consider taking high-quality probiotic supplements regularly.
4. Increase Hydrochloric Acid In Your Diet
Hydrochloric acid boosts acidity in the stomach, which aids in the digestion and absorption of healthy fats. Acidic gastric juices signal the release of bile salts from the liver and digestive enzymes. These components support the breaking down and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and E.
Consider taking citrus fruits like lemon, apple cider vinegar, and lime to improve your hydrochloric acid levels. You can dilute them with warm water to quickly absorb them into the body. Alternatively, you can purchase hydrochloric acid supplements from the chemist. But note that supplements may result in high stomach acid. Therefore, consult first your healthcare provider before incorporating hydrochloric acid supplements into your diet.
5. Use Spices
Studies have shown that food spices like ginger, piperine, cinnamon, and capsaicin can induce a high secretion of bile acids, aiding in the digestion and absorption of dietary fats. So, you can use such spices when cooking your meals to ease digestive woes.
Fat digestion and absorption are vital bodily functions. A disruption in each of the processes can negatively affect your overall health and well-being. Fortunately, you can improve fat digestion and absorption by taking bile supplements, consuming healthy fats, and increasing hydrochloric acid in your diet. Also, consider using spices and improving your probiotic diversity. If your digestive or malabsorption issues don’t stop, it’s best to consult your doctor for a more comprehensive treatment.