The muscles in the wall of your stomach have an essential job to do. A healthy gut uses strong, muscular contractions to move food through your digestive tract to your small intestine. However, those affected with gastroparesis (gas-tro-pur-REE-sis) have weak muscles in their stomach lining, resulting in the food not emptying at all. In fact, it’s considered a partial paralysis of the stomach.
As the symptoms are synonymous with many other gastrointestinal problems, this disorder is often challenging to diagnose and treat.
Risk factors for developing the disease (1)
- Abdominal Surgery
- Diabetes (consistent high glucose can cause vagus nerve damage)
- Pain Medications
- Viral Infection
- Nervous System Disease
If you have any of the above risk factors and experience any of the following symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor.
- Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
- Lack of appetite
- Vomiting (often undigested food)
- Acid reflux
Gastroparesis can also set the stage for developing Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
In some instances, a damaged vagus nerve may be the culprit that is causing the problem. The vagus nerve is the messenger that passes information from the brain to our internal organs. One of these messages is the one that signals the stomach muscles to contract.
There are a few simple exercises that may strengthen the vagus nerve. (2)
- Yogic breathing (particularly Alternate Nostril Breath)
- Sound healing
- Slow, deep, controlled breathing
Dietary suggestions for gastroparesis disorder (3)
Diet modifications are the first line of defense to help to alleviate symptoms. I would suggest the following.
- Eat foods low in fat
- Eat more frequent small meals
- Eat easily digestible foods
- Chew thoroughly
- Drink plenty of water and liquids
If you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms or feel something is not right, I can help. A Functional Medicine approach may be something to consider. So schedule a consultation, and let’s get to the root cause of your issues and begin a plan to manage and recover your gastric function.