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Malabsorption is failure of the body to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food. It is much more common for a variety of reasons in the modern world, particularly with the decline of our overall gut health and digestion.

Causes / Risk factors of Malabsorption

  • Impaired digestive function
  • Celiac disease
  • Bacterial overgrowth in colon
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Food allergies
  • Certain medications: some antibiotics, antacids, anti-obesity drugs, colchicine, phenytoin
  • Damage to intestine from surgery or radiation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Chronic disease / cancer of the pancreas, gallbladder, liver and bile ducts
  • Pernicious anaemia (B12 malabsorption)
  • Tapeworm infection
  • AIDS
  • Cystic fibrosis


  • Bloating, cramping, gas
  • Chronic diarrhea with bulky, fatty stools
  • Weight loss, muscle wasting and failure to thrive
  • Symptoms of anemia and other nutrient deficiencies (fatigue etc.)


  • Identify /address underlying cause
  • Repair intestinal mucosa
  • Support digestive function
  • Replenish healthy bowel flora
  • Replenish nutrients

Diet plan guidelines to support Malabsorption

  • Healthy, balanced wholefood diet high in fresh fruit and veg, fish, grass-fed meats.  A Paleo style is well indicated
  • Identify / remove food allergens especially wheat, dairy
  • Apple cider vinegar/lemon juice / papaya / pineapple with meals to support digestion
  • Avoid drinking tea and coffee near mealtimes: interferes with mineral absorption

Supplements that support Malabsorption

  • Digestive enzymes
  • Probiotics
  • Multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • Easily assimilated protein sources e.g. quality protein powder
  • Specific nutrients as such as zinc and magnesium: increase stomach acid
  • Glutamine and vitamin A: for repair of gut mucosa
  • Vit C & bioflavonoids: immune support and uptake of minerals

Herbal medicine treatment that supports Malabsorption

  • Digestive / Gall bladder stimulants : gentian, ginger, St Mary’s, yellow dock, dandelion
  • Gut repair: goldenseal, calendula, slippery elm, aloe


The above nutritional and herbal considerations will assist in the symptomatic management of malabsorption.  Uncovering the underlying cause of the condition is of the utmost importance.  It should be assessed with any patient suffering any chronic condition. 

Malabsorption affects every body system, if we can’t absorb our nutrients, we can operate our biochemical pathways and nourish our body. 

A functional medicine approach will assess and correct malabsorption issues if they are present and in turn directly have a positive impact on every compromised body system.  Poor digestive function, SIBO, parasites, bacterial infections, intestinal permeability and certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors are common underlying causes. 

At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we have successfully uncovered and treated malabsorption through functional testing as a major contributing factor in a wide range of diseases and conditions.

If you or a family member require assistance with malabsorption, another digestive disorder or would like to be comprehensively tested, we would love to hear from you.  What symptoms are you currently experiencing?  Have you had your digestive function tested?  Please write a comment below.

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The above information is intended to be general, educational advice only, on topics which are of interest to us. It is not intended to represent specific or individual health or medical advice and is not specific to your situation. The below information is educative and is not intended to advertise any service.

Before making any decisions in relation to your health, you should always discuss your individual situation with your own health practitioners to ensure that any advice you have read is right for you.

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper - ND is the founder of Advanced Functional Medicine Australia. He is a Naturopathic Doctor with extensive functional medicine training from leading practitioners in the USA and worldwide.

He is leading the way with advancements of functional medicine, clinically implementing worldwide best practices in Functional Medicine throughout Australia.

Jarrod consults in person from Perth, Western Australia and also online via Telehealth throughout Australia and worldwide.

If you are looking for personalised treatment, we highly recommend contacting Jarrod Cooper’s Advanced Functional Medicine clinic in Australia.

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