Undigested Fats and the Immune System

Good quality healthy fats are essential for the most favorable health. However, the typical American diet is loaded with rancid and poor quality fats or many are trying to avoid fat altogether because they had been told that this was the way to be “healthy”. When a person continually eats a low fat, no fat or poor quality fat diet, we set our bodies up for gallbladder and digestive dysfunction.


Basic digestion is a north to south process and beings in the brain and works its way through the mouth and esophagus. Digestions of dietary fat begins when the fat is broken down into small 

particles in the duodenum (between the stomach and small intestines) by bile salts and pancreatic lipase. If the food particles (chyme) are the right acidic level when coming from the stomach then secretin (a hormone) signals the pancreas to release an enzyme (pancreatic lipase) to further break down the chyme. However, if the chyme is not the right acidic level after moving to the duodenum from the stomach, secretin won’t signal the release of pancreatic lipase to break down the chyme and bile is not released from the gallbladder and can eventually cause gallstones. Essential the chyme would be entering the small intestines as a fat globule.

If pancreatic lipase was released in the duodenum then the fat particles in the chyme will be broken down into fatty acids and are absorbed into the lymphatic system and used by the body appropriately. However, if pancreatic lipase was not released in the duodenum, we are essentially left with a fat glob that moves to the small intestines. These globules become rancid in the intestines because they are not absorbed or broken down and eventually weaken the lining of the intestines. They weaken it enough so those fat particles can get through the intestinal lining (hence the term leaky gut) and come in contact with the immune system. Your immune system will not recognize this fat globule and will do what it is designed to do and attack the foreign invader.

When your immune system is busy attacking this, your body is susceptible to things like infections, food allergies, low stomach acid, gut dysbiosis, and cancer. In addition, your body is depleted of nutrients from fat since it can’t absorb these. When your body is not able to absorb the proper nutrients, issues arise such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and Celiac disease. If a body is absorbing nutrients properly we can avoid all these complicated issues that can arise from malabsorption or digestive issues. Poor quality fats such as trans fat, hydrogenated oil, and fried foods should always be avoided. Even if you need to supplement with digestive enzymes, keeping proper stomach acid levels for digestions will help with the process and allow your body to absorb healthy fats that we should be eating. You can find a list of healthy fats to add to your diet here.

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