People who have fatty acid oxidation disorders (FAODs) struggle to metabolize fats. The result is that the body is unable to efficiently create enough energy during times of illness, stress, or fasting. While some people with these disorders face serious health complications, others are still able to lead mostly normal lives. One of the best ways for these people to manage their symptoms is to follow a strict diet.
Healthy Diet for Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders
If you or a family member has a fatty oxidation disorder, you may already be familiar with the FAOD diet. While everyone is different, and your doctor may have specific requirements, generally a fatty acid oxidation disorder diet will focus on the following:
Because the body is unable to effectively and efficiently break down fat in the mitochondria, it is often recommended that a person with one of these disorders follows a low-fat diet, specifically those with a long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorder. They will typically be directed to avoid food high in fat like fried food and some fast food. The exact restrictions will depend on the person’s age and the severity of their disorder.
Instead of the body trying to use fats for energy, those with fatty oxidation disorder want their bodies to break down carbohydrates for energy. A carbohydrate-rich diet will not only help fuel the body of someone with one of these disorders, but it will also prevent low blood sugar for FAODs, a life-threatening problem. Your doctor should let you know of the exact types of carbohydrates you need as well as the specific amounts.
Proteins are often another topic of discussion for a fatty acid oxidation disorder diet. Some research suggests that a high protein diet with fewer carbohydrates can still be effective in managing symptoms but may improve body composition and liver lipid content.1 Because a high-carbohydrate diet can lead to obesity, replacing some of the carbohydrate intake with good proteins may be able to help. You doctor will be able to help you decide what is best for you or your loved one.
In some cases, your doctor may also recommend specific supplements to help manage the symptoms. For example, a person with a VLCAD deficiency may be directed to take MCT oil, riboflavin, and carnitine on a regular basis. Someone with an LCHAD deficiency may also take docosahexaenoic acid supplements.
Besides a healthy diet for fatty acid oxidation disorders, it is also imperative that people with these disorders eat on a regular basis. Going too long without eating can cause serious health problems.
At INFORM Network, we understand that these disorders come with a lot of questions. While you should continue to follow your doctor’s recommendations, you can check back frequently for more helpful information.