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The 5 Most Common Factors Causing Malabsorption

Factors causing malabsorption?

The absorption of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) from the food and supplements we eat is the primary responsibility of the small intestine. Unable to take in enough specific nutrients and fluids from one’s diet will lead to malabsorption syndrome.

Often, the complications of absorption disorders are directly related to the kind of nutrient
that is not being absorbed. Further, there are many reasons why malabsorption syndrome
happens. The following are the top out of many factors affecting poor nutrient absorption
from food.

Lactose Intolerance  Lactose intolerance is the inability to breakdown the natural sugar lactose because the small intestine cannot make enough enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the said sugar. The undigested lactose will interact with the bacteria that are commonly present in the large intestine. After which, symptoms like diarrhea, gas, and bloating will occur.

Lactose is commonly found in dairy products including milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream, ice cream, cheese, and baked goods. Further, lactose intolerant are also sensitive to whey proteins since it is a derivative of cheese. guide to common whey ingredients.

Primary Lactose Intolerance

There are three kinds of lactose intolerance. The first kind is Primary Lactose Intolerance,
which is an expected outcome of aging. As people age, most of us eat a more diverse diet or meal plan and sometimes rely less on milk. Hence, there is a big possibility that an
individual’s lactase production will lessen over time.

Secondary Lactose Intolerance

The next one is due to illness or injury, which is known as the Secondary Lactose Intolerance. Specifically, for Secondary Lactose Intolerance to happen, there are two factors to consider:
(1) inflammatory bowel like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease and celiac disease (damage
to the lining of the small intestine), as well as (2) a surgery or injury to your small intestine.

Developmental or Congenital Lactose Intolerance

There are a few rare cases where a defective gene of lactose intolerance is passed from
parents to children, causing complete deficiency of lactase in a child. This kind is called
Developmental or Congenital Lactose Intolerance. If the babies are intolerant of any milk, chances are infants will have diarrhea as soon as they intake breast milk or formula containing lactose. What is more, diarrhea can cause electrolyte loss and dehydration to the babies, which both can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Lactose-free infant formula is usually given to babies with this condition. Additionally, when babies are prematurely born, another kind of lactose intolerance named developmental lactose intolerance occasionally happens. This occurrence is due to the lactase production of babies that starts later in the pregnancy, specifically, after 34 weeks, at least.

Long-term Medication and Lack of Ambulation

Long-term intake of medications and lack of ambulation can negatively affect the absorption of some nutrients. For instance, drugs like anti-inflammatory drugs, antacids, laxatives and Phenobarbital and anticonvulsants for epilepsy tend to interfere with the absorption of vitamin D and calcium, causing poor bone metabolism. In the same way, if there are less calcium and vitamin D, people who cannot ambulate like those who have spinal cord injuries or bedridden stroke patients will have less possibility to place weight-bearing stress on their bones, which may influence the start of osteoporosis.

Tropical Sprue

Familiar to many tropical and subtropical continents in the world such as the islands of
Southeast Asia and the Carribean, tropical sprue is related to an infection damaging the
linings of the small intestine. The primary cause of it is unknown, but people with this
absorption disorder often suffers from malnutrition, weight loss, anemia, and diarrhea.

Whipple’s Disease

Whipple’s disease is caused by a bacterium called Tropheryma whipplei that infects the small intestine, consequently causing malabsorption. Aside from the small intestine, it can also cause severe complications to other body parts, including the eyes, joints, lungs, heart, and brain. Usually, Whipple’s disease patients experience stiffness and joint pains before experiencing some intestinal symptoms like abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, and gastrointestinal bleeding (GI bleed).

Short Bowel Syndrome
Short Bowel Syndrome is one of many digestive disorders that result in malabsorption. It
usually happens after surgical removal of all or part of more than two-thirds of the small
intestine’s length. It also happens to any individuals who have poor motility inside their
intestines. Although a person will not undergo any surgeries, diseases, or injuries can damage the small intestine. Further, short bowel syndrome occurs when operations are made to treat the following conditions, which are described in the simplest terms:
● Cancer and intestine damages caused by cancer treatment;
● Crohn’s disease or the inflammation and irritation of any part in the digestive tract;

● Gastroschisis or the misalignment of intestine through the other side of the umbilical
Internal hernia or displacement of the small intestine to pockets inside the lining of
the abdomen;
● Intestinal atresia or incomplete formation of all or some parts of the intestines;
● Intestinal injury from trauma and blood flow loss caused by a blocked vessel;
● Intussusception or the inversion of a part of an intestine within another;
● Meconium ileus or the situation when a newborn’s first stool (Meconium) is stickier
and thicker than normal and is blocking the ileum (between the cecum and the
● Midgut volvulus or a malformation of the intestinal tract where blood supply up to the
middle of the small intestine is entirely cut; and
● Omphalocele or exomphalos or the occurrence when livers, intestines, and other
organs are sticking out through the belly button (navel).
Absorption and digestion of food occur in the small intestine; hence, the results of removing some parts of it depends on how much is taken. Typically, this syndrome ranges from mild to severe, depending on how well the small intestine functioning. People suffering from short bowel syndrome may absorb not only insufficient liquids, micronutrients, and macronutrients from food and water but also encounter diarrhea, which is considered as the main symptom.

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