Gastroparesis Diet Stage 1 – Gastroparesis is a condition that slows or stops the movement of food from your stomach into your small intestine. This can cause many unwanted and uncomfortable symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, heartburn, bloating, and a feeling of fullness.
There are many causes of gastroparesis. Although it is often associated with diabetes or a damaged vagus nerve, gastroparesis is associated with many conditions and risk factors. It is important to identify and address the root cause of your symptoms. Testing can be very helpful in identifying possible causes.
Gastroparesis Diet Stage 1
Gastroparesis can cause serious complications, including life-threatening obstruction. Fortunately, there are some natural strategies that can help support your condition. Changing your diet can greatly help with your symptoms. Targeted supplements and other lifestyle strategies can also help your health.
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Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, is the delayed, even unobstructed passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine (1). During digestion, the stomach must contract for empty food and liquids. It normally contracts 3 times a minute and relaxes 90-120 minutes after eating. When these contractions are slower or less frequent, gastric emptying is delayed.
Gastroparesis is a relatively common and very expensive disease. It affects up to 4% of the US population and costs $7,000 per month for inpatient care for people with severe gastroparesis (2). Additionally, approximately 25% of adults in the United States have gastroparesis-like symptoms. Gastroparesis affects women more often than men with a ratio of 3:1 (3).
Gastroparesis is often associated with diabetes and surgical vagus nerve damage. In most cases, doctors cannot determine the underlying cause. Idiopathic gastroparesis is the most common category of gastroparesis, accounting for more than one-third of gastroparesis cases (3).
A common cause of gastroparesis is diabetes. Diabetes is a series of diseases that affect how your body uses glucose. This can happen when the pancreas produces too little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond properly to insulin.
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Diabetes can damage nerves, such as the stomach and nerves. It can also damage pacemaker cells and specialized cells in the stomach wall. If these nerves or cells do not function normally, the stomach will not empty.
Damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system, can cause gastroparesis. A damaged vagus nerve interferes with the muscles in the stomach and intestines. This prevents food from moving properly through the digestive system. Surgery on the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine, along with diabetes, can damage the vagus nerve.
Infection increases the risk of gastroparesis. Postviral gastroparesis occurs when the stomach nerves or muscles are injured by the virus (3). Viruses that cause gastroparesis include cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, and herpes varicella-zoster. Symptoms of post-viral gastroparesis are usually less severe than other causes and their symptoms go away.
Cancer treatment, such as radiation to a person’s chest or stomach, can cause gastroparesis. Certain medications can delay gastric emptying or affect motility, resulting in symptoms similar to gastroparesis. These medications can worsen symptoms for people with gastroparesis.
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Medications that delay voiding or worsen symptoms include narcotic pain relievers, antidepressants, anticholinergics, medications used to treat overactive bladder, and pramlintide (1).
Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function, is associated with altered gastrointestinal motility. People with hypothyroidism may have decreased motility of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. They often experience gas, constipation, nausea, and vomiting (2). Hypothyroidism also reduces esophageal motor activity and can cause gastrointestinal problems (4).
Gastroparesis can occur in people with neurological disorders. Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis are associated with gastroparesis. Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nerve cells of the brain. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the myelin sheath on nerve endings becomes inflamed and damaged.
Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that severely disrupt a person’s eating behavior. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders can cause many health problems, including gastroparesis. In addition, symptoms of gastroparesis can cause behavioral disturbances in a person struggling with an eating disorder.
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Anxiety and depression are closely related to gastroparesis. In fact, approximately 18% of people with gastroparesis suffer from severe depression and 31% have severe anxiety (2).
About 25% of people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have gastroparesis. GERD, or acid reflux, is a condition in which stomach contents back up into the esophagus. Gastric emptying may be slower in people with GERD (2).
Rare conditions such as amyloidosis and scleroderma can cause gastroparesis. Amyloidosis is a condition in which protein fibers accumulate in tissues and organs. Scleroderma is a connective tissue disease that affects the skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles and internal organs.
To diagnose gastroparesis, doctors use lab tests and other tests to measure how quickly your stomach empties.
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Blood tests can show symptoms of dehydration, malnutrition, inflammation, infection, high blood sugar and thyroid problems. Urinalysis can indicate diabetes, dehydration, infection, and kidney problems.
If food stays in the stomach for too long, it ferments. This can lead to bacterial overgrowth and an imbalance of gut flora.
When there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, it is known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO is very common in people with gastroparesis.
Addressing SIBO is important because it can damage the gut lining and lead to leaky gut syndrome. This leads to food sensitivities and chronic inflammatory processes in the gut. Bacteria in the small intestine interfere with normal enzymatic and metabolic activities. This causes problems with digestion and absorption of nutrients. To learn more about SIBO and coping strategies, read this article.
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A bezoar is a hard, solid collection of food in the stomach (5). It is a mass of undigested material that accumulates in the digestive tract and sometimes causes congestion. Bezoars obstruct the stomach and prevent food from passing into the small intestine.
Bezoars can cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and feeling full after eating little food. They can also cause other complications such as intestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers.
Controlling blood sugar levels can be difficult for people with diabetes and gastroparesis. Frequent changes in the rate and amount of food passing through the small intestine can cause erratic changes in blood sugar levels. As food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine, blood sugar rises.
When blood sugar becomes difficult to control, it can make diabetes symptoms worse. In turn, poor blood sugar control worsens gastroparesis.
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People with gastroparesis may become dehydrated due to frequent vomiting. Malnutrition can also occur due to decreased absorption of nutrients. Unnecessary weight loss due to low caloric intake is a complication of gastroparesis.
When people develop symptoms of gastroparesis, especially severe flare-ups and severe symptoms, it can make life difficult. Gastroparesis can negatively affect a person’s work and performance. This can reduce their overall quality of life.
To improve your digestive health, it’s important to follow an easy-to-digest, anti-inflammatory diet, identify and address underlying problems, use targeted supplements, and implement other treatment strategies. Although these strategies are not FDA-approved to prevent, reduce, treat, or cure gastroparesis, they can help support the body, and many have seen good results.
Initially, people with severe gastroparesis may need a liquid diet. Liquid nutrition is great for stimulating digestion, increasing nutrient absorption and improving gut health. A liquid diet doesn’t require much energy to digest, so your body can focus on healing and recovery.
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A great alternative to liquid nutrition is a high-quality hypoallergenic protein powder that contains essential amino acids and powerful antioxidants to support gut function and improve detoxification. You can make a protein shake with this powder along with coconut milk.
Making a bone broth fast can help heal the gut and reduce stress on the digestive system. Additionally, intermittent fasting is a good starting point for people with gastroparesis. This means going without food for a long time, for example 12-14 hours.
For some people, eating foods low in FODMAPs can improve their gastroparesis symptoms. FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. FODMAPs is an acronym for fermentable oligo, di- and monosaccharides and polyols. These fermentable sugar-based carbohydrates include fructose, glucose, galactans, polyols, and lactose.
High FODMAP foods can be difficult for some people to digest and pass from the intestines to the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria. This fermentation causes many digestive symptoms such as gas, pain and bloating.
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A diet high in FODMAPs can cause functional bowel disorders, while a diet low in FODMAPs is effective in relieving intestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. See this article for more information
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