- Gastroparesis is a condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself
- It can lead to pain in abdomen
- Chew your food properly to prevent gastroparesis
Gastroparesis also identified as stomach paralysis. It is a condition where the stomach is unable to empty itself normally. This condition is common amongst people who have been diagnosed with diabetes for a long time. However, it may also occur in people without diabetes as well. While the exact cause of gastroparesis is unclear, it is believed to have something to do with disrupted nerve signals in the stomach. Another reason could be the stomach being overly sensitive to signals from the nervous system, and the functioning of the stomach being unable to react well to a meal, is also believed to play a role.
This condition affects the regular and impulsive muscle movement in the stomach. Food is propelled through the digestive tract through robust muscular contractions. However, for a person with gastroparesis, the stomach’s muscular movement is reduced or does not work, preventing the stomach from emptying entirely.
Gastroparesis: Symptoms, complications and diet tips
Understanding Gastroparesis’s Impact and Severity
For some individuals,affects the quality of their life, but is not life-threatening. They might be unable to complete certain day to day activities; while, some might be susceptible to face other deadly complications. Gastroparesis can worsen diabetes due to the slow movement of food that could subsequently cause unpredictable changes in blood sugar. Blood sugar may drop as food remains in the stomach for longer, and then increases when the food finally moves to the intestines. Constant vomiting can lead to dehydration due to gastroparesis. The condition further affects how well the body absorbs nutrition and can lead to malnutrition.
Other symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Feeling full after eating a little
- Acid reflux
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Pain in the abdomen
- Fluctuation of blood sugar levels
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
In some cases, individuals with gastroparesis could even develop masses in the stomach as a result of undigested food; theses masses can further cause a blockage in the small intestine.
Gastroparesis treatment through diet
Along with certain medication prescribed by a doctor, a change in diet is usually the first step in the treatment and management of gastroparesis. Making sure you get sufficient nutrition is important when managing gastroparesis. Most people with Gastroparesis can lead a relatively normal life by eating light foods and drinking supplemental nutritional drinks. Here are a few diet tips one could follow:
- Eat a smaller meal portions throughout the day. Instead of 3 meals a day, have 5/ 6 light meals throughout the day
- Chew your food properly
- Choose cooked vegetables over raw
- Avoid fatty foods as these can slow digestion
- Drink ample amount of water every day
- Don’t sit immediately after eating instead take a walk after you eat
- Keep away from alcohol, smoking, and carbonated beverages
- Avoid lying down within 2 hours of eating
- Include soft textured food like khichdi, curd rice, idli, dosa etc. with liquids like soup, buttermilk, lemon juice or milk to your meals, so it can facilitate mixing and propelling of food in the stomach
- Include porridge, milkshake, buttermilk or lassi, chicken soup etc. to add protein to the diet
- Opt for soft fruits like banana, chikoo, watermelon, kiwi, papaya, etc. One can also choose milkshake at times
- Vegetables can be included in the forms of soups – vegetables can be combined with pulses to make soups
- Ensure adequate hydration through the day
When to see a doctor?
If someone is unable to tolerate food or liquids, consult a doctor for alternate means of feeding and a registered dietitian to get a plan that ensures delivery of nutrients as per recommendations or requirements. Also with loss of appetite, reduced oral intake, heart burn, and bloating and weight loss are symptoms that need a doctor/ dietitian consultation.
(Ms. Minal Shah, Senior Nutrition Therapist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund)
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