Kelly’s a mom of four who had just started her whole family on the GAPS Diet. Her kids and husband were doing great, but she was struggling. She felt sick to her stomach a lot, described her digestion as “stagnant,” and didn’t have much of an appetite. When I reviewed her health history I saw that she’d had her gallbladder removed 7 years ago. I suggested that it sounds like she’s not digesting fats and that she try taking supplemental ox bile with each meal. Within days her digestion was moving again and nausea was a thing of the past. She was able to eat soup and started adding extra fats on Stage 2 of the Intro Diet.
If you find yourself complaining about dry skin and hair, constipation, or feel nauseated on a regular basis, these are all signs you’re not digesting fats well. Maybe you’ve also had your gallbladder surgically removed, maybe you’ve got gallstones, or frequent pain under your right rib cage. Or you might be the type that doesn’t have dramatic symptoms, but you just feel like your digestion works better on a low-fat diet. Many of us naturally avoid fats because we know that they make us feel a bit sluggish or sick, and you might not have realized this until you began the GAPS Diet and started eating a lot more fat.
A history of following a low-fat diet, or eating fats that aren’t natural to your body, like vegetable oils, canola oil, and margarine, don’t stimulate your gallbladder to make enough bile. Your gallbladder’s a “use it or lose it” organ and if you’re eating low-fat or poor quality fat, your gallbladder goes a little dormant or may actually start showing signs of disease. Getting your gallbladder removed is the number one surgery performed in the United States every year, with about 700,000 people undergoing it. (Learn more about why you need your gallbladder).
Good fat digestion is needed to correct nutritional deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, essential fatty acids, and also mineral deficiencies, because fats are the co-factor in minerals absorption. Bile is also a lubricant for your stool, so in some cases of constipation this is really key to resolving it. Of course natural fats are also crucial to making all of our hormones, cell membranes, and for keeping our skin soft and wrinkle-free.
Bile is made out of fat, and it also breaks fats down. So it can be a bit of a chicken and egg dilemma when it comes to boosting your bile production. You’ve got to get the good fats in and digested to make healthy new bile, but you’ve got a have good bile to break down these healthy fats you’re eating. Lots of free-flowing bile is also needed to make sure that the “river of toxins” that get processed through your liver can easily leave your body.
So what to do?
The simplest natural remedy to help boost your fat digestion is to drink Beet Kvass. Two to four ounces of Beet Kvass before each meal will help stimulate your bile production, and get it to the right place at the right time. For some people this is enough to up-regulate fat digestion.
If Beet Kvass is helpful to you, but it’s not convenient while you’re at work or out and about, I recommend carrying a supplement called Beta-TCP with you. It acts like a therapeutic strength version of Beet Kvass in a convenient tablet form. Taking two or three Beta-TCP with each meal will provide a similar effect as Beet Kvass. This is also helpful if you don’t like the earthy taste of beets.
Supplemental ox bile is useful for people whose gallbladder has been removed, and I consider it a requirement in this situation. Without a gallbladder your liver does produce bile, but the amount secreted isn’t adjusted to the amount of fat you’re eating – there’s just a constant drip of bile into your small intestine. I recommend a supplemental ox bile called BetaPlus, with a dose of 1-3 tablets per meal, depending on how much fat you’re eating. The dose can be quite individual and you’ll have to find the dose that alleviates your symptoms.
Be mindful that these are general recommendations on how to use supplements for better fat digestion and use them at your own risk. It’s always best to discuss your personal health and needs with your healthcare practitioner.
Dr. Natasha always says the more fat you eat on GAPS, the quicker you’ll heal. Aim for one and four tablespoons of fat per meal. But it’s not just simply getting the fat in your mouth – it’s actually getting it digested, absorbed, and utilized by your body. This is what beet kvass and these supplements will help you accomplish.
If you’re getting started on GAPS and have lots of questions like this, join my upcoming online GAPS Diet Class and get them answered while you learn the cooking too!