In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Can you eat food without a stomach?” We will also discuss the importance of the stomach and talk about the diet for a person without a stomach.
Can you eat food without a stomach?
Yes, you can eat food without a stomach. Although it changes the way your body processes food, it is possible to eat common foods after partial or complete removal of the stomach without having to live on intravenous feeding.
The Stomach, like the other organs of the digestive system, works in tune with the need for each meal, and removing this organ requires adaptation of the body to fill this void left by the body’s large digestive sac.
What is the role of the stomach in the digestion of food?
The stomach is a muscular J-shaped organ capable of expanding 25 times its size, holding up to 2 liters.
It is part of the gastrointestinal tract that is formed by the tubular organs connected in the path that goes from the mouth to the anus.
Your stomach takes food that has already been chewed through your mouth and temporarily stores it, usually defining the maximum amount of food that can be eaten in a meal. The valves that connect with the esophagus and intestines contract and the process of acidic digestion begins.
Using very low pH acids and using contraction and relaxation movements, the stomach performs an important breakdown of proteins into amino acids and ensures that the food bolus arrives more uniformly in the duodenum.
As the stomach has the function of storing and prolonging digestion by breaking large groups such as proteins into amino acids, the removal of this organ results in a lower capacity to retain food, that is, greater ease to be satiated with small amounts of food.
Another factor is that as food does not undergo acid digestion, nutrients are less accessible and our body finds it difficult to absorb, so extra attention is needed to avoid vitamin deficiency.
What are the reasons for a person to remove their stomach?
The reasons that lead to the removal of the stomach (gastrectomy) are usually related to the malfunction of the stomach, but there are cases where people remove part of the stomach to lose weight. The main reasons for total or partial removal of the stomach are:
- Severe stomach ulcers: if it is recurrent or worsens even after adequate treatment, ulcers can be treated by removing the stomach, especially in cases of deep bleeding and stomach perforations, which can be a risk to other organs.
- Removal of benign tumors: The presence of tissues and cysts in the stomach may require removal of the stomach depending on the size of the tumor and the impact they have on digestion. If the tumor impairs digestion more than the removal of the stomach, gastrectomy is chosen.
- Stomach cancer: As with other cancers, the removal of cancerous tissue is usually necessary so that it does not spread throughout the body. Stomach cancer is usually accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, indigestion, and vomiting (with or without blood).
- As part of obesity treatment: Bariatric surgery has evolved a lot in recent years as a solution for cases of obesity aggravated by comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and fatty liver.
What is the diet of a person with no stomach?
After the stomach is removed, the person is hospitalized for two weeks, feeding intravenously to allow the body to heal as well as for the person to understand the impact of the stomach removal.
From that moment on, food gradually returns to everyday foods such as dairy products and meats, but it is important to be thrifty when consuming it, taking care not to overdo it.
These are valid precautions that will make the transition simpler:
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals: there is no longer a place to store food, so your body will be full faster but you will also feel hungry more often.
- Eat slowly and chew well: Chewing will help you to prolong contact with food, helping amylase break down the starch in food as well as helping your brain understand that you are full faster.
- Drink lots of water, but not close to mealtime: Water will be very important for the proper functioning of the body, but if consumed with meals it can impair the absorption of nutrients.
- Don’t eat too much fiber, focus on nutrient-dense foods: your digestive system will need foods that nourish it and are worth the effort of enzymes and organs, fiber will only make you bloated and it can distend your abdomen.
In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “Can you eat food without a stomach?” We have also discussed the importance of the stomach and talked about the diet for a person without a stomach.
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