Malabsorption. It’s one of the hallmark symptoms of most gastrointestinal disorders, including Celiac Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S.), and gluten intolerance. Malabsorption has many consequences and is the main component behind many of the symptoms associated with the aforementioned disorders. Essentially, when any nutrient other than fiber goes through your gut and doesn’t get absorbed, you’re in for trouble. Pain, bloating, cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhea are probably coming your way in some combination or another. Your gut is designed to absorb almost everything you throw at it, and when protein, fat, and carbohydrates go undigested, they wreak havoc on the rest of your system. Beyond the discomfort and general malaise that results from malabsorption, it can have many serious biological and physiological consequences as well.
One classic symptom of malabsorption, seen in many patients with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, I.B.S., and other digestive disorders is steatorrhea. Steatorrhea is a condition where there is too much fat in the stool. Usually 95% or more of the fat we ingest is absorbed, but in the case of those with steatorrhea, 20% or more of consumed fat passes right through the gut and into the toilet. And while you may think absorbing less fat is a good thing (unintended weight loss, yay!), it can lead to major deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and E) as well as simply not getting enough energy from food. Fat, which contains 9 calories per gram (compared to only 4 for protein and carbs), is a major source of energy and nutrition for us humans. Proper amounts of fat help keep our skin, eyes, hair, cardiovascular system, and brain healthy as well as providing us with energy. We need all that fat.
One nutrient that shows major promise in combating steatorrhea and unintended weight loss due to fat malabsorption is medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT’s. Basically, MCT’s are naturally occurring fat molecules that are smaller than most other fat molecules. Because MCT’s are smaller than other fats, they take a different path to absorption and are absorbed much faster and easier than normal fats. Think of MCT’s like a fat absorption loophole. They not only provide much needed and easy to digest calories, they also help to absorb all the fat soluble vitamins that you’re probably missing out on if you are suffering from malabsorption and/or steatorrhea.
So if you do have Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, or I.B.S. (and chances are that if you’re reading this, you do), and are suffering from fat malabsorption and/or steatorrhea (and chances are that if you have one of these conditions, you are), then MCT supplementation might be worth considering. MCT’s are commercially available in the form of MCT oil. Although they can be taken by the spoonful and are very mild in flavor, the best way to utilize MCT’s is by using them in normal fat-containing recipes such as baked goods, sandwich spreads, and salad dressings. In fact, MCT’s can be substituted for other forms of fat in many recipes. They are definitely a nutrient right up the alley of those suffering from any sort of gastrointestinal disorder and might just be the magic bullet you’re looking for by providing easy-to-digest calories and helping to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals that are also often lacking. And they do all this while still easing the burden on your gut and could go a long way toward making you a healthier and less symptomatic overall person living with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, or I.B.S. Happy MCT-ing.
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube
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