Gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying, is a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents. It often occurs in people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. 

Gastroparesis occurs when nerves to the stomach are damaged or stop working due to years of hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, cellular inflammation and oxidative stress.

High blood glucose levels, chronic inflammation and extensive free radical damage cause chemical changes in nerves as well as damageto the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract. If the vagus nerve is damaged, the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally, and the movement of food is slowed or stopped.

Signs and Symptoms of Gastroparesis

The signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting of undigested food
  • an early feeling of fullness when eating
  • weight loss
  • abdominal bloating
  • erratic blood glucose levels
  • lack of appetite
  • gastroesophageal reflux
  • spasms of the stomach wall

These symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on the person.

Natural Treatment for Gastroparesis

The primary treatment goal for gastroparesis related to diabetes is to regain control of blood glucose levels. The best treatment is to use a superior nutritional wellness protocol such as the Super Meal Model Diet for Diabetics.

Nutritional Changes

Change to a low-fat, low-fiber, gluten-free diet. The most common diet suggested for the treatment of gastroparesis is low-fat, low-fiber, and low carbohydrate. Also, avoid gluten -- even mild gluten intolerance can result in the development of thyroid imbalance, which could worsen gastroparesis.

Avoid high-fat, fiber foods. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid high-fat and high-fiber foods. Fat naturally slows digestion—a problem you do not need if you have gastroparesis—and fiber is difficult to digest. Some high-fiber foods like oranges and broccoli contain material that cannot be digested. Avoid these foods because the indigestible part will remain in the stomach too long and possibly form bezoars.

Eat fermented foods. A diet rich in lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, black garlic, and kefir.

Bone broth. Bone broth is very nutritious and healing for your gut, as it contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, glucosamine, chondroitin, and glycine to ease digestion and soothe inflammation.

Eat smaller meals and eat more frequently. Also, take your time when eating -- don't gulp down your food -- eat slowly and chew your food completely in your mouth (to help make digestion a lot easier).

Your doctor or dietitian should prescribe six small meals a day instead of three large ones. If less food enters the stomach each time you eat, it may not become overly full.

Use a liquid or pureed diet for severe cases. Your doctor/dietitian may prescribe liquid meals, which provide all the nutrients found in solid foods, but can pass through the stomach more easily and quickly. In that case, raw juicing, green smoothies, and wholefood supplements can help tremendously to obtain the necessary nutrients.

Drink raw vegetable juices. Use some raw juicing on a limited basis since too much fiber is often a gastroparesis patient’s worst enemy. 

In addition, use green smoothies, because fiber is still an important part of a healthy digestive system.

FYI: The author's Raw Juicing and Green Smoothies ebook contains both juicing and smoothie recipes for diabetics.

Avoid drinking water during meals. Drinking water while you eat your meals will dilute the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which will contribute to delayed gastric emptying. Instead, try to drink lots of water after your meals to avoid diluting the acid in your stomach while you eat

Nutritional Supplementation

Chelated Magnesium. Neurological dysfunction (including vagus nerve paralysis) is often caused in part by magnesium deficiency. Use chelated magnesium (which is easily absorbed). 

High-Quality Probiotics. Probiotics are the live, active cultures found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

Since you may have been given antibiotics to treat your condition, it is vitally important you re-populate your gut to avoid further complications. Use a probiotic supplement that contains a full complement of healing, high-quality cultures designed to help you break down and absorb nutrients from food.

Digestive Enzymes. Digestive enzymes are critical in the digestion and absorption of the essential nutrients from food. Use a digestive enzyme supplement that contains pancreatin, an enzyme derived from porcine pancrease and also amylase, protease, and lipase to ensure you receive the most nutrition you can from any bit of food you take in.

Vitamin D3. According to a study published by Hormone and Metabolic Research those with idiopathic gastroparesis experienced improved stomach emptying the higher their levels of vitamin D3.

Without adequate levels of vitamin D3, immune, digestive, and neurological health suffer. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/22956309]

Aloe Vera Juice. Try whole aloe vera juice to help soothe your gastrointestinal system.

Insulin After Meals

Insulin. In the case of diabetic gastroparesis, patients are often instructed to take insulin after meals, instead of before to avoid the excess flood of glucose into the system that often precedes intestinal paralysis.

Check and verify with your physician and/or endocrinologist.

Exercises

Exercise after eating. After you eat, go for a walk. Exercise helps to boost metabolism, which aids your stomach in digesting food. Gently walking can help your stomach process your meal more quickly than if you just sit quietly after a meal.

Try deep breathing. Deep, slow belly breathing can help stimulate your vagus nerve and help it to heal itself.

Inhale through your nose, allowing your stomach and abdomen to expand. Exhale through your mouth, letting your exhalation last longer than your inhalation.

Do this periodically throughout the day to induce feelings of calm while improving your digestion.

Try yoga. You can use various yoga poses to relieve bloating and discomfort associated with “slow down”.

Meditation

Try “OM” Chanting. “OM” meditative chanting stimulates a vibratory sensation that is transmitted through the auricular branch of the vagus nerve, stimulating its function.

A study performed by the International Journal of Yoga in 2011 [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099099/], noted that OM chanting is more stimulatory to the vagus nerve than other traditional forms of chant.

To Summarize:

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently.
  • Eat low-fiber forms of high-fiber foods, such as well-cooked fruits and vegetables rather than raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose mostly low-fat foods, but if you can tolerate them, add small servings of fatty foods to your diet.
  • Avoid fibrous fruits and vegetables, such as oranges and broccoli, that may cause bezoars.
  • If liquids are easier for you to ingest, try soups and pureed foods.
  • Drink filtered/distilled water throughout each meal.
  • Use quality supplementation for probiotics, enzymes, Vitamin D .
  • Try deep breathing exercise; or, gentle exercise after you eat, such as going for a walk.
  • Try meditation to help relax.

Some people with gastroparesis may be unable to tolerate any food or liquids. In these situations, doctors may recommend a feeding tube (jejunostomy tube) be placed in the small intestine.

Consequently, we recommend the Death to Diabetes book/ebook and the Power of Juicing/Smoothies ebook.

Note: For more information about gastroparesis, refer to the Death to Diabetes Blog.  

For information about acid reflux, go to the GERD/Acid Reflux web page.

References:

  1. ^ "Spotlight on gastroparesis," unauthored article, Balance (magazine of Diabetes UK, no. 246, May-June 2012, p. 43.
  2. ^ "Gastroparesis - Your Guide to Gastroparesis - Causes of Gastroparesis". Heartburn.about.com. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  3. ^ "Gastroparesis: Causes". MayoClinic.com. 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  4. ^ "Epocrates article, registration required". Online.epocrates.com. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  5. ^ a b "Summary for Oley Foundation by R. W. McCallum, MD". Oley.org. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  6. ^ "Gastroparesis: Symptoms". MayoClinic.com. 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2012-10-09.
  7. ^ Mirtazapine for Severe Gastroparesis Unresponsive to Conventional Prokinetic Treatment
  8. http://www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/600_699/0678.html
  9. G-PACT Gastroparesis Patient Association
  10. Overview from NIDDK National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases at NIH
  11. Overview at Mayo Clinic
  12. Overview at University of Chicago Hospitals

 

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