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Small Intestine Removal

  • Ask the Nutritionist

    Q: I had five feet of my Ilium removed. What diet should I consider?

    Debbie, Jarrettsville, Maryland, January 2016

    A: The small intestine is made up of three parts: the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The ileum is 11.5 feet long, and is primarily responsible for absorbing vitamin B12, as well as some fluids and electrolytes. When part of the ileum is removed, you may find that you need to drink more water and take B12 supplements or receive monthly shots, to maintain adequate hydration and B12 levels. We would recommend talking to your doctor about whether you need a B12 supplement or shot. Since part of your ileum is still functioning, the risk of dehydration is lower, especially since the rest of the intestines are great at adapting to cover for what is missing.

    In terms of a specific diet, there is no one recommendation. We would recommend following a generally healthful diet, avoiding large amounts of sweets and artificial sweeteners because they can pull water into the gut and cause pain and bloating or diarrhea, which can exacerbate the risk of dehydration.

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