ELI5- why do people who are severely starving have a bloated stomach?


ELI5- why do people who are severely starving have a bloated stomach?

In: 4

protein deficiency causes a disease called Kwashiorkor, one of the symptoms is severe edema (bloating)

The reason this happens has to do with plasma proteins.

When blood flows through the capillaries (the narrowest blood vessels that supply an organ), the pressure forces fluid to leak out of the capillaries. This is a good thing. Bringing water, dissolved salts and small molecules such as sugar to the cells around the blood vessel.

This however results in a loss of pressure and lower blood volume in that blood vessel. When that happens, some of that water can flow back through osmosis. Osmosis is the phenomena where water flows towards the highest concentration of dissolved molecules. Think of it as water moving through a net to get into a ball pit. It’s weird, but you can test this yourself with slices of raw potato, water and different levels of salt. The slice left in the salt water will shrivel as the water inside the slice flows out into the saltier water.

Plasma proteins’ function is to relocate water. They are too big to leak out of the cappilaries. So once the pressure drops, water can flow back into the blood vessel. This process is called colloid osmotic pressure.

When someone is starving, their liver produces too little plasma proteins in order to regulate where fluid goes. Causing build up of it in notably the abdominal area. This is called edema. And in this case, a sign of severe starvation.

Everyone so far is talking about severe starvation, but when I go even just a few hours too long for lunch or dinner I get very gassy and bloated. Same with (e.g) fasting for Yom Kipur. What’s that from?