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Digestion of Lipids (Fats)

Digestion of Lipids (Fats)


The food containing fats essentially follow the same pathway as carbohydrate foods.

As fat containing food travels through the digestive tract, its digestion takes place in different locations, with chemical digestion primarily beginning in the stomach..

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KETO fats digestion
The surface of the inner lining of the stomach contains gastric glands.  In response to the presence of food, the stomach wall secretes a hormone called gastrin into the bloodstream. Gastrin stimulates the gastric glands to secrete gastric enzymes and hydrochloric acid.

Note: The acidity levels in the stomach are regulated by the pancreas hormone called somatostatin which inhibits the release of hydrochloric acid by the gastric glands.

The combination of mucus, hydrochloric acid and enzymes is referred to as gastric juices. The gastric juices contain small amounts of gastric lipase –an acidic enzyme secreted in the stomach that catalyzes the hydrolysis of fats. Gastric lipase breaks down short and medium chain fatty acids before they move on into the small intestines.


The liver also plays an important role in lipid metabolism by

  • oxidizing fatty acids,
  • synthesizing
    • lipoproteins,
    • phospholipids, and
    • cholesterol; and
  • converting portions of carbohydrates and protein molecules into fat molecules.


As the stomach churns, it converts the bolus into a semi fluid mixture referred to as chyme –semi fluid paste of bolus and gastric juices.

If the small intestines detect that fats are not being digested well enough in the stomach, a hormone called cholecystokinin is secreted into the intestine. Cholecystokinin hormone slows gastric motility –the ability of organisms and fluid to move around– and stimulates the secretion of enzymes by the pancreas.

As the chyme passes into the small intestines, cholecystokinin stimulates the gallbladder to release bile.  The function of bile (a salt) is to break fats into smaller droplets, to emulsify the dietary fats in the small intestine to be digested more effectively, forming mixed micelles.

Cholecystokinin also stimulates the release of pancreatic juices, which contains pancreatic lipase.  This enzyme initiates the breaking down of tricylglycerol lipids into fatty acids and glycerol.

KETO small intestine

The fatty acids are then dissolved and diffused into in the villi cell membranes.  Some fatty acids may be absorbed directly into the blood capillary, without being converted back into fat, while others are incorporated into chylomicrons (large molecules of lipoprotein) for transport. Fatty acids are then either oxidized as fuel or re-esterified for storage.


Step by step fat metabolism >> Read more …


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