When you eat healthy, you expect your body to be healthy. However, a condition called Malabsorption Syndrome prevents your body from absorbing a single or a group of nutrients from the food you consume. This condition can occur due to several underlying causes. Read on to explore the causes, symptoms, and remedies for Malabsorption Syndrome.


What is Malabsorption Syndrome?

The main purpose of the gastrointestinal tract or gut is to absorb macro-nutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins and micro-nutrients like vitamins and trace minerals. Digestion of food happens through both mechanical and enzymatic breakdown of food. The final products of digestion are then absorbed by the intestinal epithelial cells.

Malabsorption constitutes pathological interference with the normal sequence of digestion, absorption, and transport of nutrients. In simple words, it is the inability of the intestines to absorb nutrients adequately into the bloodstream.

Causes of Malabsorption Syndrome

Normally, as you digest food the small intestine is responsible for absorbing most of the nutrients through its tiny capillary units called Villi. Your blood then carries these nutrients to your bones, muscles and other organs. And, you expel the waste products of digestion through your rectum. There can be several medical conditions that can interfere with this process:

  • Damage to the Intestine due to infection, inflammation, trauma or surgeries
  • Enteritis or inflammation of the intestine
  • Celiac Disease – a type of gluten intolerance where the body attacks its own cells in the small intestine
  • Tropical Sprue – related to environmental factors like toxins present in food, infection or parasites
  • Other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis or lactose intolerance
  • Congenital or Acquired reduction in absorptive surface
  • Defects of specific Hydrolysis or breakdown of complex molecules into forms the body can assimilate
  • Defects of Ion Transport and Sodium-Potassium Pump that is responsible for relaying nervous system signals
  • Diseases of Gallbladder, liver or pancreas
  • Radiation Therapy which may injure the lining of the intestine

Symptoms of Malabsorption Syndrome

Common symptoms start with indigestion issues and extend to massive weight loss and more. These can include:

  • Anemia, Weakness, and Fatigue due to inadequate absorption of Vitamin B12, Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin D
  • Bloating, Acid Reflux, Gas and Cramps due to impaired water, carbohydrate absorption and irritation from unabsorbed fatty acids
  • Frequent Diarrhoea
  • Brittle nails or bones
  • White Spots on Nails denoting lack of calcium, magnesium or zinc
  • Dry or thinning hair
  • Scaly Skin Rashes
  • Edema or fluid retention in tissues due to lack of protein absorption
  • Malnutrition and Weight Loss
  • Muscle cramps due to decreases Vitamin D, Calcium and Potassium absorption
  • Muscle Wasting and Atrophy associated with weakened metabolism
  • Foul-Smelling Stools, Loose Stools, Stools that are light in color or bulky, Stools that are hard to flush because they float or stick to the toilet bowl all signify Malabsorption

How Susceptible you are to  Malabsorption Syndrome?

If your body is not getting its vital nutrients to stay strong and survive, it can lead to grave dangers. Children who are not exposed to healthy eating at a young age have an increased risk of catching this ailment. Also, prolonged use of Antibiotics can weaken the healthy bacteria residing in your gut and lead to Malabsorption.

Also, early exposure to gluten in the diet before a child’s body has the capacity to process it can further weaken the intestines. Additional, over-consumption of Alcohol can also put you at greater risk. Use of certain medications like laxatives or mineral oil can interfere with the normal digestion process

Diagnosing Malabsorption Syndrome

Certain tests may be useful to know if you suffer from Malabsorption Syndrome. These can include:

  1. Stool Tests – To measure fat since fat is usually present in the stool of the patient with malabsorption syndrome
  1. Blood Tests – In order to determine the deficiency of certain nutrients like Vitamins, Iron, Calcium, Folate and more, this test can be ordered. However a deficiency in any one of these nutrients may not necessarily be linked with malabsorption, rather it may mean you are not eating healthy levels of nutrients. But if you are consuming healthy levels of these nutrients and still have a deficiency, then it can denote malabsorption.
  1. Biopsy and Endoscopy – A tube can be inserted in your mouth and sent to the intestines to take a sample of cells
  1. Imaging Tests – CT Scan or Ultrasound can be taken to look for structural problems of your small intestine

Treatment and Natural Remedies for Malabsorption Syndrome

If you suffer from constant digestive issues in your body, it can be a warning sign of the starting stage of Malabsorption. Before they accumulate further and weaken your body’s resistance, strive to make healthy lifestyle choices to curb your imbalances. Adopt a holistic outlook to address the root cause of Malabsorption and then take the right steps to curb it:

  1. Eat a Simple Diet of Warm and Well-Cooked Meals

When you see telltale signs of weak or imbalanced digestion, the best thing you can do is to slow down and simplify. Eat foods such as soups, broths, stews, crock-pot meals, stir-fried vegetables, porridges and the like. It will soothe your digestive fire or Agni according to Ayurveda.

It’s best to avoid raw, cold, dry and rough foods as these are relatively harder to digest. Give ample time for your digestive fire to adjust and adapt. Also, avoid meat consumption especially red meat and pork as these take a long time to be broken down.


  1. Ensure to get a Wide Variety of Colours in your Diet

By colors, we mean the natural colors available in fruits and vegetables. The darker the color, the stronger the antioxidant potency. So, think dark leafy greens, blueberries, black grapes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, pumpkins and other beautiful treats from Mother Nature.

A common mistake people tend to do is over-relying on multivitamins and supplements to get your daily dose of nutrients. Instead of helping the issue, this will only clog the channels further and create more toxins in the system. Opt for natural alternatives instead.

  1. Take Digestive Aid Before or After Meal

Focus on ways to rev-up your digestive fire for fastened healing. Some potent digestive aids, include Ginger, Fennel, Cumin, Lemon, Honey, Clove, Coriander Seeds, Ajwain, Turmeric, Lemongrass, Cardamom, Black Pepper and Pippali. Sip warm herbal teas that foster digestion in between meals.


  1. Detox and De-stress

Ayurvedic detox programmes will give your digestive system a boost by eradicating the toxin build-up or Ama in your body. This will flush out the unwanted bacteria in the gut and promote a healthy gut flora.

If parasites or worms are suspected, you can perform a cleanse by eating an anti-parasitical diet and taking up herbal enemas for treating them.

Another common cause of digestive issues is Stress which can lead to a constriction in the Gut and clog it. So, it’s vital to reduce your stress levels on a daily basis

  1. Intermittent Fasting

Give your digestive system a rest when you feel that your metabolism is not quite up to its speed. Intermittent Fasting or other means of fasting will help a great deal to give your metabolism a natural boost.

Better health starts in the digestive tract. Therefore foster healthy eating for healthy digestion so that the nutrients you consume will revitalize your entire body.



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