Dr. Natasha always says the more animal fat you eat on GAPS, the quicker you’ll heal. It’s not just simply getting the fat in your mouth though – it’s also getting it broken down, absorbed, and utilized by your body.

Good fat intake and digestion is needed to correct nutritional deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, essential fatty acids, and also mineral deficiencies, because fats are the co-factor in mineral absorption. Fats are an important component in making hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as the membrane for every cell in your body. You brain is even made of 60% fatty acids. You can see that fats are crucial to structure, function, and feel-good chemicals. So what are the signs that you’re not digesting fats?

Kelly was 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.

Signs You’re Not Digesting Fats

  • Dry skin and hair
  • Eating fat leads you to feel too full
  • Nausea
  • Greasy stools, or light/clay-colored stools
  • Constipation
  • Pain between your shoulder blades
  • Pain under the right rib cage
  • History of eating low-fat, or eating a lot of seed oils
  • History of heavy drinking or drug use
  • History or current gallstones
  • You’ve had your gallbladder removed

There are other issues that may be related to some of these symptoms, but if you experience several of these, your liver and gallbladder, and the fat digestion they facilitate, are areas that need some extra support.

Many people semi-intentionally avoid fats because they lead to feeling a bit sluggish or nauseated, and you might not have realized this until you began the GAPS Diet and started eating a lot more fat.

What messes up fat digestion?

A history of eating a low-fat diet, or eating fats that aren’t natural to your body, like vegetable oils, canola oil, and margarine, don’t properly stimulate your gallbladder to release bile. Your gallbladder is a ‘use it or lose it’ organ, and if you’ve been eating low-fat or poor-quality fat, your gallbladder has been underutilized. (Learn more about why you need your gallbladder).

High levels of toxins, parasites and worms, certain molds, excess estrogen, thyroid imbalances, and certain medications may reduce bile flow or inhibit the bile ducts. 

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.

Fat digestion support

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 who have had their gallbladder 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 with care, and at your own risk. It’s always best to discuss your personal needs with your healthcare practitioner if you recognize these signs that you’re not digesting fats, and aren’t sure which approach, or products, are right for you.

 

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