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Amount of food and belly size...


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Hi.

Some societies have the daily habit of eating huge volumes of food, without neccessarily having big bellies (like in Spain:-) )

Some people (like me) habitually eat really small quantities of food.

I have read -and seen- that poorly fed kids as in some African nations develop large bellies.

What is going on ?

 

Can persons fed in large quantities not develop large bellies because their metabolism is used to count on never a short supply of food ; and people eating very little store reserves as a natural 'defense' mechanism and thus developing large bellies ?

 

Miguel

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The big bellies in Africa is due to something called "ascites".

 

It's caused by, among many things, Protein-Energy starvation.

Human blood has a set of proteins in it(albumin), that prevent the blood from leaking through blood vessel walls, but in starving people, the body cannot manufacture enough of this protein, so blood serum(the straw coloured fluid left after you take all the particulates out) leaks into the abdominal cavity. Hence big bellies full of fluid.

 

husmusen.

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The big bellies in Africa is due to something called "ascites".

 

It's caused by, among many things, Protein-Energy starvation.

Human blood has a set of proteins in it(albumin), that prevent the blood from leaking through blood vessel walls, but in starving people, the body cannot manufacture enough of this protein, so blood serum(the straw coloured fluid left after you take all the particulates out) leaks into the abdominal cavity. Hence big bellies full of fluid.

 

husmusen.

 

So why does it only leak into the abdominal cavity? You forgot to mention the reason it leaks is because of the change in oncotic pressure because of the lack of albumin.

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Ascitic fluid is, by definition, fluid in the peritoneum.

Fluid that leaks elsewhere, e.g. the ankles, is not called ascites.

 

If you are interested in a really in depth understanding of this system I suggest you read an A&P textbook. Marieb's Essentials of A&P is a good introductory text.

 

But for now

Ascitic fluid can accumulate as a transudate or an exudate. Amounts of up to 25 litres are fully possible.

 

Roughly, transudates are a result of increased pressure in the portal vein (>8 mmHg), e.g. due to cirrhosis, while exudates are actively secreted fluid due to inflammation or malignancy. As a result, exudates are high in protein, high in lactate dehydrogenase, have a low pH (<7.30), a low glucose level, and more white blood cells. Transudates have low protein (<30g/L), low LDH, high pH, normal glucose, and fewer than 1 white cell per 1000 mm³. Clinically, the most useful measure is the difference between ascitic and serum albumin concentrations. A difference of less than 1 g/dl (10 g/L) implies an exudate.[2]

 

Portal hypertension plays an important role in the production of ascites by raising capillary hydrostatic pressure within the splanchnic bed.

 

Regardless of the cause, sequestration of fluid within the abdomen leads to additional fluid retention by the kidneys due to stimulatory effect on blood pressure hormones, notably aldosterone. The sympathetic nervous system is also activated, and renin production is increased due to decreased perfusion of the kidney. Extreme disruption of the renal blood flow can lead to the feared hepatorenal syndrome. Other complications of ascites include spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), due to decreased antibacterial factors in the ascitic fluid such as complement.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascites

 

Husmusen

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