Fatty poop, greasy stools, steatorrhea, or whatever you'd like to call it, one thing is certain: oily stool indicates dysfunctional fat absorption. Fatty stools can manifest in different ways. You may see oil floating in the toilet with stool, light colored stools, loose stools or floating stools. Fatty stools may also have a foul smell due to undigested fat fermenting.
If you're experiencing oily stools or undigested fat in stool, chances are your belly isn't happy with one of your diet or lifestyle habits. Or, you have an underlying condition. According to Ayurveda, fat in stools is a problem of a low or weak digestive fire (agni). The majority of fat absorption occurs in the small intestine, specifically the first 100 cm of the jejunum. In some cases the lining of the small intestine may be compromised. However, poor absorption of fats is more commonly caused by poor digestion of fats. Poor digestion of fat is generally caused by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) or bile insufficiency.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
The pancreas is a narrow flat gland about 6 inches long, sitting below the rib cage in the back. Pancreatic lipase accounts for 90% of fat digestion. Fat digestion becomes impaired when output drops to 10% of normal levels. This results in malabsorption of fat which can lead to weight loss, loss of subcutaneous fat, muscle wasting, and deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins such as A,D,E and K. When fat isn't digested well, it likely to become fermented, which causes gas, bloating and high toxic load to the liver.
The main causes of EPI are cystic fibrosis and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Pancreatitis is generally caused by alcohol consumption, gallstones, and some infections, etc.
Insufficient bile may also cause poor fat digestion and fatty poop. Bile is made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Its release is stimulated hormonally by the presence of cholecystokinin in the duodenum. Bile is recycled and reused 4-6 times daily. In a healthy individual, less than .5g of bile acids remains after reabsorption. When larger amounts of bile enters the colon, it stimulates water secretion and increased peristalsis, causing chronic diarrhea. Dysfunctional bile secretions is a major cause of oily stool.
If there is damage to the brush border membrane of the small intestine, re-absorption of bile is compromised. Overproduction of bile, gastro-intestinal surgery, or an overgrowth of bad bacteria are some of the more common culprits of damage to the small intestine. Pancreatic insufficiency causes the duodenum to become very acidic. . This acidity damages the intestine and also causes bile salts to precipitate out of solution, making them ineffective for fat digestion, and non-absorbable by the ileum. Instead, they are eliminated through the feces. Excess elimination of bile eventually depletes the bile acid pool, which is one of the more common oily stool causes.
Gallbladder stagnation and biliary obstruction may also cause insufficient bile.
Ayurveda emphasizes good digestion for optimal health. Initially, it may be ideal to avoid meals and foods that are dominant in fat. Good hydration and electrolyte balance may improve pancreatic and bile output. Simply adding bitter greens like kale and sours like lemon can help reduce fat in stools. Bitters and sours are cholagogues, meaning they stimulate the increase of bile secretions.
Bitter herb formulas, such as Digestive Bitters before a meal encourages secretion of bile and therefore aids in proper fat digestion. Bitter ghee is Ayurveda's #1 fat digester.
Support your liver and gallbladder with a chemical free, easy to digest diet. Take steps to protect your liver health by avoiding processed foods, and cooking at home. Gallbladder tonic is a formula produced by Joyful Belly to support a healthy gallbladder.
Your elimination is a report card of how well your body is tolerating your diet and lifestyle, as well as any underlying conditions. Although steatorrhea causes are generally hard to observe, with a bit of research (as you've done here!), normalizing your elimination may be possible.
However, if you have steatorrhea or suspect pancreatic insufficiency, you should also get this condition checked by a medical doctor. A stool test can confirm whether your enzyme and bile output is adequate. Frequently, pancreatic insufficiency is irreversible but not always. John, the founder of Joyful Belly, had pancreatic insufficiency after contracting parasites overseas. With the use of Ayurveda, function was restored.
If fatty stools aren't treated, the imbalance can worsen and impact the function of our bodily tissues. Put your best foot forward and march your way to healthier elimination today!
Disclaimer: Conditions such as 'Shiny / oily / fatty stools' that cause tissue changes could be serious and should be checked by a medical doctor.
Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for 'Shiny / oily / fatty stools'.
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 'SHINY / OILY / FATTY STOOLS'?
AVOID DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS THAT AGGRAVATE THESE EFFECTS
According to Ayurveda, one or more of the following
and biocharacteristics may aggravate 'Shiny / oily / fatty stools'.
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.
FAVOR DIETS, LIFESTYLES & HERBS WITH THESE MEDICINAL EFFECTS
Everything you eat has an effect on your body, which Ayurveda categorizes in a simple and easy way, using biocharacteristics (gunas).
Biocharacteristics are qualities (like cold and hot) that describe the effect a food or herb has on your body.
Cooling foods like cucumber, decrease metabolism.
Heating foods like chili pepper, stimulate your body and increase metabolism.
For 'Shiny / oily / fatty stools', you should select foods with the following biocharacteristics.
Individual results will vary, based on your body type and the root cause of your imbalance.
FOODS TO FAVOR
CONDITION IN YOUR BODY
ABOUT EASY BIOCHARACTERISTIC
Easy refers to anything easy to digest, or digests quickly.
SHINY / OILY / FATTY STOOLS IS IN STAGE OF DISEASE 3 - ATTACKING TISSUE
If you have symptoms in this category it means that your imbalances are becoming stronger and weakening your body's resistance.
Most people have a weakness in one or more organs.
These areas of weakness are the 'weak link in the chain.'
They are first to succumb when an imbalance reaches a tipping point.
Repairing imbalances in this category often represent your last opportunity to prevent disease.
At any moment, these imbalances could overwhelm weakened tissue and develop into a disease.
You may feel pain or discomfort in the weakened area.
At this stage you will need to support the weakened tissue with specialized foods and herbs for the weakened tissue.
REDUCE THESE RELATED SYMPTOMS & HABITS
The following symptoms & habits may be related to 'Shiny / oily / fatty stools'.
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 2,645 People Reporting Shiny / oily / fatty stools
On average the biocharacteristics
of people reporting Shiny / oily / fatty stools were more aggravated than 90% of other symptoms.
From the 2,645 people who reported Shiny / oily / fatty stools in this research study of 74,671 individuals,
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.