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Gastroparesis diet: What you should and shouldn’t eat

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  • It’s important to note that dietary changes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of gastroparesis
  • The diet plan for gastroparesis may vary for every patient, which is why it’s important to consult a doctor about your nutritional requirements

Getting enough nourishment is a constant challenge for gastroparesis patients due to the symptoms that they experience, such as loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea. Eating the wrong kinds of foods may also aggravate this disease, which is why some patients drastically reduce their food intake in hopes of alleviating their condition. However, doing this may lead to malnutrition.1

It’s important to note that dietary changes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of gastroparesis. Instead of cutting down food intake, patients should work with a dietitian to create an effective diet plan.

What are the foods that you should eat?

The diet plan for gastroparesis may vary for every patient, which is why it’s important to consult a doctor about your nutritional requirements. In most cases, gastroparesis patients are recommended a low-fat diet since fat tends to slow down the digestive process.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consume fat at all. Keep in mind that your body needs healthy fat to function properly, and the recommended fat intake for gastroparesis patients is 40 grams (1.41 ounces) per day.2

Choose good sources of fat instead of removing it from your diet plan. Some of the good sources include avocados, butter and coconut (including coconut oil). It’s best to consume small amounts of these foods before increasing your intake, so you’ll find out how much of them you can tolerate. In addition, getting adequate amounts of the following nutrients may help you control gastroparesis:3,4,5

  • Probiotics — Consuming foods that are rich in probiotics may help improve your gut health and keep the symptoms of gastroparesis from flaring.6 Foods that are rich in this nutrient include bone broth and fermented grass fed organic milk such as kefir.
  • Vitamin D According to a study published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research, poor vitamin D levels may lead to delayed gastric emptying.7 Being deficient in this nutrient also weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections that cause gastroparesis. With that in mind, make sure that you boost your vitamin D levels by getting enough sun exposure and eating foods like wild Alaskan salmon.
  • Protein — It’s important to meet your daily requirement of protein, as it may help improve your overall health by promoting healthy muscles, bones, enzymes and hormones. Grass fed meats and dairy products are great sources of high-quality protein.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) may also help improve digestion and alleviate the symptoms of gastroparesis, such as heartburn and bloating, according to a study published in the BMC Gastroenterology journal.8 You just have to add 1 teaspoon of ACV to a glass of warm water, and drink it 15 to 20 minutes before a meal.

Aloe vera is another good food to add to your diet since it regulates bowel movements,9 ultimately relieving stomach pain and bloating.

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Foods to avoid when you have gastroparesis

Knowing the foods that you should remove from your diet plan is just as important as knowing which ones you should eat. Always keep in mind that certain foods may worsen the symptoms of gastroparesis. These include:10,11,12

High-fiber foods — Foods that are rich in insoluble fiber may delay gastric emptying and form bezoars over time. Avoid foods with indigestible parts and high-fiber content, such as oranges, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, root vegetables and beans.

However, keep in mind that fiber is still important to your health, so you shouldn’t completely remove it from your diet. Simply limit your daily consumption of fiber to 10 to 15 grams. You can get your daily fiber requirement from well-cooked vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits.

Processed foods Processed foods are generally bad for your health since they contain refined carbohydrate, gluten and excessive amounts of sugar and salt. Eating processed foods regularly may weaken the body and make it more susceptible to gastroparesis flare-ups.

Foods that contain trans fat — Trans fat delays the emptying of the stomach. Some of the products that contain trans fat include fried foods, store-bought baked goods, microwave popcorn and margarine.

Fizzy, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks These drinks may exacerbate the symptoms and complications of gastroparesis, so it’s best to avoid them. Load up on water instead to keep yourself hydrated.

Other useful dietary tips to remember

It’s not necessary for gastroparesis patients to include only bland and full-liquid recipes in their diet plan. In fact, you can still enjoy solid food as long as you chew it slowly and steadily until the food is liquefied or has lost all of its texture. It’s also important to cook food thoroughly to make it easier to chew and digest.

Moreover, you should do gentle movements after meals to help stimulate stomach digestion. Taking a walk for 10 to 15 minutes is a good way to do this. Be sure to avoid strenuous exercises after a meal, though, since it may delay the digestive process.13

Since gastroparesis makes it harder for the stomach to absorb nutrients from your meals, you may also become deficient in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium and iron.14 Hence, you may want to ask your doctor if taking dietary supplements to balance your nutritional needs is something you should try.15


Gastroparesis: Introduction

What Is Gastroparesis?

Diabetic Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis Symptoms

Gastroparesis Causes

Gastroparesis Treatment

Gastroparesis Prevention

Gastroparesis Diet

Gastroparesis FAQ

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