Our bodies' cells burn three things for the energy they need to function optimally. That's protein, carbohydrates and fat. Believe it or not, the cells in our bodies really prefer to burn fat for energy over carbohydrates and protein lastly. It's more efficient and less costly metabolically. Fat absorption starts with ingestion of only the best fats, that is the fat from the meat of grass fed or wild caught animals, organic olive oil, ghee, coconut oil and so on. Our bodies have the ability to recognise good fats from man made or heat damaged fats such as hydrogenated oils and vegetable oils. Bile salts from a well functioning gallbladder is essential to emulsify (making water soluble) the ingested fat and readying it for absorption into the bloodstream.
An easy way of ascertaining whether you are absorbing your fats or not is to look at the stool. If your stool floats or has a hint of an oily slick on the water some of your ingested fats are not being absorbed and passing right through. Fat is lighter than water and will rise to the top. Another indicator is odor. Undigested fats have a rather obnoxious odor because they will putrefy in the large bowel. Here’s a tip for those individuals without a gallbladder. Be Careful of the amount of fat consumed with each meal. Your liver can not spontaneously produce enough bile to emulsify that meals fat. That’s why the body has a storage sac for it called the gallbladder. So, keep the GB at all cost. You still need the fat however and to avoid taxing the liver, spread fats out throughout the day and take a bovine bile salt supplement before each meal. If the fat malabsorption is very bad the stools will be very loose, odiferous and floating. Not only is fat an integral energy source for our cells it also makes up our cell membranes. Did you know our brain is mostly fat. So next time someone calls you a fat head, thank them for the accurate compliment.
As a side note, the primary reason for gall stasis or stones is the consumption of man made or heat damaged fats. The body does not see them as normal and the gallbladder therefore does not release its bile into the small bowel. This leads to bile stagnation and later the formation of stones. Eat only healthy natural fats and avoid like the plague anything hydrogenated.
In a functional medicine practice we measure the cells ability to burn fat for energy by the presence of adipate, suberate and methylmalonate in the urine. These are oxidative byproducts of fat that have not been able to get in the cells mitochondria to be used for energy. This process needs the amino acid carnitine, carnitine shuttle, for the transport. If one or more of these values is high it may signal a carnitine insufficiency and supplementation will be needed. Other non GI symptoms of low fat absorption would also be dry skin especially on the forearms and thighs, chicken bumps on the back of the arms, brain fog, poor memory and fatigue. Fat consumption has been vilified like cholesterol. We all need plenty of good fats in our diets and avoid anything that says low fat or no fat.Schedule an Appointment