Malabsorption syndrome occurs when the small intestine is unable to absorb the nutrients from the foods that you eat. This syndrome includes a number of disorders that prevent the small intestines from absorbing fluids and nutrients, which can include vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Let’s take a look at the eight top causes for malabsorption.
- Celiac disease – Celiac disease is an intolerance to gluten. When gluten from grains are eaten, the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract becomes inflamed and the villous atrophy, resulting in malabsorption. According to Merck, celiac disease causes a number of abdominal disturbances, including diarrhea, anorexia, abdominal distention, failure to thrive, weakness and weight loss. Sufferers often experience ulcers and calcium and vitamin D deficiencies. Finally, patients may experience dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a rash that occurs on the scalp, buttocks, elbows, shoulders and knees.
- Cystic fibrosis – Cystic fibrosis can result in pancreas insufficiency which can prevent patients from being able to absorb dietary fats. The National Institutes of Health report that cystic fibrosis malabsorption is often due to decreased production of bile acids and enzymes that are produced by the liver and pancreas. Patients can improve the body’s ability to absorb dietary fats by taking a pancreatic enzyme supplement.
- Lactose intolerance – Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot properly digest the sugars found in dairy products. The symptoms of lactose intolerance include flatulence, diarrhea and abdominal distention. It occurs when the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract cannot properly digest lactose, which can cause symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome. The best treatment option for patients suffering from lactose intolerance is strict avoidance of dairy products, which will allow the gastrointestinal tract to heal.
- Infections – There are a number of infections that can lead to malabsorption, including traveler’s diarrhea, tapeworm, hookworm, giardiasis and intestinal tuberculosis. Each of these infections can prevent the body from absorbing the nutrients in your foods which can result in malnutrition. Furthermore, these infections can lead to a number of digestive complaints, including diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, dissension and anemia. Speak to your doctor to learn about support for healthy gut function as well as the foods that you should avoid to help heal the gastrointestinal tract.
- Bacterial overgrowth – Bacterial overgrowths occur when the bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract overwhelm the beneficial bacteria. When this occurs gastric acid secretions can decrease and lead to undernutrition, fat malabsorption and vitamin deficiencies. One way to counteract a bacterial overgrowth is through probiotic supplementation. Probiotics help to increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut and decrease pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. When the beneficial bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria, the body is able to properly absorb nutrients from the foods that you consume.
- Intestinal lymphangiectasia – Intestinal Lymphangiectasia is caused by the malformation or obstruction of the lymphatics in the small bowel. This condition often affects young adults and children. The symptoms of this disorder include growth retardation, edema and malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals. Sufferers often experience abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and retarded growth.
- Whipple disease – Whipple disease is a rare illness that causes weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain and arthritis. This illness often affects men between the ages of 30 and 60. It is a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract that require long-term treatment of antibiotics. Whipple disease can cause severe nutritional deficiencies that must be addressed quickly.
- Short bowel syndrome – Short bowel syndrome occurs when the small bowel is two thirds the length of a patient’s small intestine. The symptoms of short bowel syndrome will depend on the function of the small bowel and its length. Oftentimes, sufferers experience nutritional deficiencies and severe diarrhea. Short bowel syndrome is often caused by cancer, congenital anomalies, Crohn’s disease and radiation.
Malabsorption occurs when the gastrointestinal tract is unable to absorb the nutrients in the foods that you eat. There are several different medical conditions that can cause malabsorption issues. When it occurs, you can experience a number of symptoms that include gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and flatulence, weight loss, failure to thrive, abdominal pain and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Taking a probiotic supplement, using digestive enzymes and supplements that support healthy gut function is the first step towards health. In addition to this, sufferers should avoid foods that they have a sensitivity to and eat raw fruits and vegetables to naturally increase enzyme production. Finally, get plenty of exercise to improve gut motility.