Absorbing Facts

Poor absorption of food in underweight people

When we look at an underweight person, we might guess that they may have trouble absorbing the nutrients from their food.

One cause of such malabsorption is celiac disease. (As with most illnesses, we doctors give celiac disease other names. Celiac disease is also called non-tropical sprue, or celiac sprue. You might think we do this to confuse you. Actually these multiple names result from the confusion of those who described the illnesses. New and different names are applied as we learn more about the illness, but the old names never quite die away.) Celiac disease affects about 1 in 300 Caucasians, is often underdiagnosed, and results in poor absorption of many nutrients. Doctors are taught in medical school that people afflicted with the condition do not gain weight in childhood. Actually, many of them do gain weight and grow into adults with chronic gastrointestinal disorders or other chronic illness.

In overweight people

Many of our overweight patients tell us "I must be absorbing fat, Doc. Look at my spare tire."

The fact of the matter is that we can make a spare tire out of potatoes and corn on the cob. If you have any doubts about that, take a careful look at a pig.

Many overweight people, however, are low in essential fatty acids. They have dry skin, joint problems and other consequences of poor fat absorption. Just as some fats can be harmful, some fats are required for life, and therefore called essential fatty acids. For us to absorb these fats and get any good out of them our intestine has to be working properly.

The job of an intestine ain't easy

The intestinal wall, as you might imagine, has an interesting job. Along one side are the precious tissues of our body, which need to be protected from infection and outside insult. On the other side of the intestinal wall is yesterday's lunch, chewed up many hours ago and chock full of bacteria. From this the intestinal wall needs to absorb the vital nutrients that we require and eliminate the bacterial toxins and other substances that could kill us.

So it is not true that whatever goes into our mouth automatically gets into our body. It has to make its way through the secure gateways in the intestinal lining. Essential oils are no exception. For these to be assimilated:

What to do?

Minerals and Vitamins

Just as our intestinal system does not automatically absorb fats and oil, it does not automatically absorb minerals and vitamins. Especially in a person with a chronic health problem, we must always consider the possibility that they are not absorbing vital nutrients.

We can test your levels of nutrients

The good news is that we can perform laboratory testing to measure levels of

The bad news is that accurate tests of these nutrients are very expensive, and may or may not be worthwhile depending upon your situation.