Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying, is a chronic digestive condition which stops the stomach from emptying in its usual fashion.
Instead of digested food moving from the stomach through the duodenum and into the small intestines, food remains in the stomach for an unusually long time.
Symptoms of gastroparesis may come in bouts and can differ in severity from mild to agonising pain. Symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloated stomach
- Getting full very quickly
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Causes of gastroparesis
Gastroparesis is thought to be the result of a problem with the vagus nerve that controls contractions of the stomach. When the vagus nerve is damaged, the muscles in your stomach no longer function properly, slowing down or stopping the movement of food.
Diabetes is the most common cause of gastroparesis. This is thought to be due to high levels of blood glucose damaging the vagus nerve. Many cases of gastroparesis are idiopathic, meaning that their cause is unknown. Other risk factors for gastroparesis include:
- Bariatric surgery
- Esophageal surgery
- Certain medications
Diet for gastroparesis
Dietary modifications won’t cure gastroparesis, but they can manage the symptoms. People suffering with gastroparesis may end up becoming nutrient deficient due to a lack of food intake, making daily vitamin and mineral supplementation a must.
Instead of eating three meals per day, eat smaller meals more frequently as this decreases the amount of food in your stomach at one time. Making it easier for food to pass through the stomach into the small intestines.
All foods should be chewed thoroughly as this helps the stomach emptying process. Sipping on water throughout meals may also help to keep the food moving through the digestive system.
It is also advisable to cut back on fats, as they naturally slow down digestion. However, liquids that are high in fat (such as milk) may be consumed, because they don’t slow digestion, and they add needed calories.
Foods high in fibre should also be cut down as they can delay gastric emptying. It is not necessary to cut out fibre completely, cutting down to 10 to 20 grams per day, spaced out between meals, is tolerable.
In addition to this, cutting down on fibre, specifically from: apple peels, berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, coconuts, corn, figs, green beans, oranges, potato peels and tomato skin, will stop the formation of bezoars. Bezoars are undigested foods that bind together, causing a blockage.