I have been having digestive type symptoms, I have always got floating stools (the colour is normal, its just that they float) and I have lately been having frequent cases of heartburn... I tried taking digestive enzymes in case I just wasn't absorbing fats properly, but that didn't work...
Gastrointestinal symptoms of fat and lipid malabsorption include diarrhoea, malodorous flatulence (foul smelling gas), reflux, abdominal bloating and indigestion. The unabsorbed fats from the diet are broken down by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids, and these fatty acids promote secretion of water into the intestine, resulting in diarrhea. Fatty stools (steatorrhea) typically are large in volume, malodorous (foul smelling), greasy, light tan or light grey in color, and tend to float in the toilet bowl and oil droplets (undigested fat) also may be seen floating on top of the water.
Causes of floating stools
Floating stools may be an indication of decreased digestive activity and related to one of the following underlying reasons:
- Inadequate absorption of fats from the diet or consumption of too many fats
- Ceoliac Disease which causes malabsorption complications especially the absorption of fats
- Gall bladder insufficiencies
- Consuming too many fats and oils in the diet placing a strain on your gall bladder, liver and pancreas to produce sufficient bile and digestive enzymes.
- Fatty stools due to diseases such as pancreatitis, Celiac disease, cystic fibrosis or gall bladder and bile insufficiencies
- Fructose malabsorption
- Insufficient consumption of fibre in the diet
It is also recommended that you take the time to see a Healthcare professional for a thorough investigation and diagnosis of your situation, in order to get a clear picture of your health status A practitioner will give you the guidance, monitoring and advice you require as well as continual support and assessment regarding medication, diet, lifestyle, family and personal history and a proper diagnosis of your condition. They will also be able to simplify your treatment, advising you on specific supplement regimes.
Diet tips for floating stools
- Begin each day with a warm glass of water with ½ lemon squeezed in it. Lemon juice has an affinity to the bowels and also switches on the digestive processes for the day, including liver and gall bladder function and bile production
- A fresh juice of carrot, ginger,celery and beetroot will do wonders for your digestive system and tastes great too
- Increasing the intake of bitter foods in the diet such as lemon juice, rocket, endive, apple cider vinegar, sorrel and radicchio. Bitter foods produce saliva and digestive enzymes which enhances the digestive processes
- Eat less saturated fats, deep fried and fatty foods in the diet as these will place a strain on your already overburdened digestive system
- Increase fresh fruits (organic where possible) e.g. apples, berries, pineapple, honey dew, paw paw. Paw paw contains papain a natural enzyme that aids digestion of tough meat fibre
- Eat fruits separately from other foods to avoid sugar fermentation in the gut
- Enjoy herbal teas to improve digestion such as Peppermint, Chamomile, Ginger, Lemon, Fennel and Dandelion
- Stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar and cigarettes can adversely affect the digestive system
- Yoghurt containing live probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus is also a valuable addition to the diet
- Increase fresh vegetables (organic where possible) e.g. green leafy vegies, carrots, etc
- Choose lean protein sources Tofu, legumes, unsalted raw nuts and seeds and nut butters and fish
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Lifestyle factors for floating stools
- Have a stool analysis performed to test the stool for fats, bacteria and undigested foods to determine the cause. Also it may be an idea to test for an allergies or food sensitivities, specifically gluten
- Don't over-eat and chew food fully and eat slowly to ensure optimum digestion of your meals
- Stress decreases the amount of energy your body has available for digestion. Try not to eat when you are anxious or angry, as it will be harder for your stomach to break the food down
Natural remedies for floating stools
- Slippery elm powder (available at health food stores) in a small glass of water at least 10 minutes prior to eating. Slippery elm coats the whole digestive tract, provides a barrier to acids (reflux) and helps digestive inflammation to heal (Ceoliac's Disease)
- Digestive enzymes contain lipase and pancreatic enzymes to encourage proper secretion of digestive enzymes and provide symptomatic relief to digestive upsets while ensuring proper break down of fats and oils from the diet
- Herbs that aid digestion and stimulate bile flow are: St Mary's thistle, Dandelion, Globe artichoke, Celandine and Turmeric.
- Probiotics help to ensure a healthy environment in the bowel
- Natural fibers such as Slippery elm, Agar, Apple pectin, Psyllium husks and oat bran
For further information see the Ask a Naturopath.com webpage concerning digestion