Malabsorption is the inability to absorb nutrients from food. The problem may be general, or specific to a certain nutrient. Some common types include fat, carbohydrate, protein, fructose, bile, iron, vitamin A, D, B12 or vitamin K malabsorption.
Malabsorption may be caused by many different diseases affecting the digestive tract.
Main Sites of Absorption
The stomach absorbs water, some simple sugars and alcohol.
Most nutrients are absorbed through the "villi" of the small intestine. Iron absorption occurs predominantly in the duodenum and upper jejunum by a process that remains a mystery despite intensive investigation. The terminal ileum of the small intestine absorbs bile and vitamin B12.
The colon absorbs water, sodium and some fat soluble vitamins.
Irritation and inflammation of the digestive tract can directly damage or impair villi function. Food allergies, parasites, fermentation, constipation, alcohol, coffee, or chilis can irritate the intestines. Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's can impair absorption as well. Parasites and bacteria may steal nutrients before they are absorbed.
Short Bowel Transit Time
Chronic diarrhea or quick bowel transit time may cause elimination of nutrients before they are absorbed. When stools are soft, there is a direct loss of electrolytes and water.
Pancreatic Insufficiency / Lack of Enzymes
The villi cannot absorb food that is incompletely digested. Thus, malabsorption may occur when enzymes and gastric juices are deficient.
It is essential to figure out what type of malabsorption you have before treating it. Western medicine offers various tests to determine which nutrients may be lacking in your system. Ayurvedic nutrition uses the 6 tastes, the five elements, as well as observable signs and symptoms to determine nutritional deficiencies.
In Ayurveda, you can improve your digestion, absorption, and assimilation by eating a diet that balances the doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and the gunas (hot, cold, etc). Here are some general guidelines:
Rebuilding fluids is essential for good digestion. A simple glass of warm water 1/2hr before meals can improve digestion by 25%. Licorice root and other anti-diuretics can help retain electrolytes. Foods that rebuild fluids may be helpful - such as grapes.
Short term use of Vitamin, mineral, and electrolyte supplements may be required while troubleshooting the cause of your malabsorption. Balanced blood chemistry improves overall body function and may improve absorption as well.
Eat easy to digest, nutritive foods like rice, oatmeal, ghee, & sweet potatoes. Easy to digest foods can nourish your body with minimal effort. Eat at regular meal times. Relax during and after meals. Vata pacifying kitchari is nourishing but also cleanses the intestines. A light, yet nourishing diet can restimulate appetite. Belly breathing can help rebuild digestive strength.
Spicy digestives and circulatory stimulants can warm up a cold digestive tract. Examples include black pepper, ginger, and hing. These should not be used in the presence of inflammation and irritation. In that case, fennel, cardamom, turmeric, and fresh ginger are preferred. Spices generally improve carbohydrate digestion and can break up thick mucus in the gi tract.
Astringent herbs and spices can help bind stool in case of chronic diarrhea, giving your body more time to absorb nutrients. Examples include nutmeg and fresh, home-made buttermilk.
Soothing anti-inflammatories like pomegranate, or herbs like shatavari can reduce inflammation. Amalaki is Ayurveda's herb of choice for restoring the lining of the digestive tract.
Cholagogues, including foods with sour or bitter taste, can improve fat digestion by increasing bile production and release. Examples include lemon, kale, and herbs like bhumyamalaki. Use caution, bitter and sour taste can also increase bowel motility.
Antimicrobials and anthelminthics can kill parasites and worms, as well as reduce bacterial overgrowth in the intestine. Examples include cloves, turmeric, goldenseal, neem, and kutki.
Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'Malabsorption'.
Individual results vary depending the cause of your imbalance and by constitution.
Please research the ingredients below to find which are most helpful for you, and check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
DISCLAIMER: The pathogenesis of each person's condition is unique, and so the diet must be fit to the individual and the unique root causes of the condition in your body.
The information on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be used to treat a medical condition. It is not a substitute for medical care.
Please check with your doctor before making any changes to your health and wellness routine.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA HEAL 'MALABSORPTION'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
According to Ayurveda, one or more of the following
and biocharacteristics may aggravate 'Malabsorption'.
If you have an excess of one of these doshas or biocharacteristics below, Ayurveda recommends reducing foods and lifestyle habits that aggravate them.
Click on the biocharacteristic to learn what foods and
lifestyle habits should be reduced.
Symptoms Tell A Story
The first step to healing is learning patterns from your symptoms.
Symptoms are clues that reveal underlying imbalances.
Symptoms show you where your body is weakened.
Ultimately, all disease has a root in tissues too weak to defend itself.
Ayurveda describes these patterns of weakness using doshas & biocharacteristics.
If you notice a biocharacteristic or dosha appears next to many of your symptoms,
it helps you establish a pattern that may be systemic.
A sialogogue increases saliva. Sour foods are often great sialogogues, and increase output of all exocrine glands. Salty taste is very moistening as well. Bitter, pungent and sweettastes also increase salivary output but to a
lesser degree. Astringents
An agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
MALABSORPTION IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 1 - AFFECTING DIGESTION
If you have symptoms in this category, your body is sending you a warning sign.
Since digestion is so metabolically intensive and sensitive to stress and emotions, the earliest warning signs of imbalance usually appear in the digestive tract first.
You may have gas and bloating, for example, or acid reflux.
Ayurveda recommends paying careful, close attention to warning signs.
They indicate that an imbalance is starting to accumulate.
Correct these warning signs before they accumulate further and weaken your body's resistance.
This is usually accomplished by removing diet and lifestyle habits that aggravate your imbalanced doshas and biocharacteristics.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITS
The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Malabsorption'.
See your quiz results for a computerized assessment of your body type.
Please click on the symptoms below to learn more about them.
Biocharacteristics of the 4,275 People Reporting Malabsorption
On average the biocharacteristics of people reporting Malabsorption were more aggravated than 84% of other symptoms.
From the 4,275 people who reported Malabsorption in this study, average deviation in biocharacteristic levels were the following:
Ayurveda strengthens the body, in addition to addressing the disorder. It take a holistic,
systemic approach, instead of focusing only on the disorder in question. Ayurveda
shows a person how to interpret signs and symptoms of imbalance, and how to address them
using materials from home, so they can optimize their health on a continual basis. You can't
take the doctor home with you, but you can take Ayurveda home with you.
Ayurveda is the most advanced and easy to use home system for self healing with an
exceptional focus on digestion.
HOW DOES AYURVEDA WORK?
Ayurveda starts by identifying your body type,
which identifies certain tendencies in your body to get sick (as well as identifying your strengths).
It uses body type to determine the likely root causes of your disorders.
Next, Ayurveda analyzes the nature of your disorder.
It fits all your signs and symptoms into a pattern, expressed as a combination of biocharaceristics (gunas).
For example, you may have a heat disorder, a cold disorder, or an oily disorder, etc.
This simple categorical approach shows you how to correct systemic imbalances and strengthen your body as a whole.
On Joyful Belly, we've created an extensive categorization of food so you can easily match food to your imbalanced biocharacteristics.
By eating an optimal diet that balances your biocharacteristics, your whole body is strengthened
and the conditions that created the disorder are removed. Once the root causes of the disease
are removed, the disease lessens in strength or disappears altogether. Additional remedies -
such as herbs and lifestyle practices - focused on the specific disorder, can greatly enhance
To get started on your Ayurvedic journey, we first recommend that your find your body
type by taking our free quiz. In Ayurveda, every solution is based on your unique body type, so
by taking this quiz, you’ll get the best results.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.