Health Care

Gut Health and The Benefits of Probiotics for Bariatric Surgery Patients

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Probiotics are live bacteria that help populate your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Often referred to as “good” bacteria, probiotics can support your GI tract’s proper functioning.

When it comes to bariatric surgery, probiotics can reduce post-surgery complications and lead to better weight loss among bariatric patients who take them regularly. Keep reading to learn more and discover how to make probiotics a part of your lifestyle.

How Probiotics Can Improve Gut Health in Bariatric Surgery Patients

Probiotics help give your body a boost by supporting your immune function and controlling inflammation. The good bacteria can also help you digest food, break down and absorb medications better, and help keep your GI balanced by keeping “bad” bacteria from getting out of control.

So how do probiotics improve gut health in bariatric patients? After bariatric surgery, your gut health will likely shift for a time and you may experience GI discomfort or frequent loose bowel movements. Regularly taking a probiotic can help ease your GI irritation, restore the lining in the gut and promote the buildup of healthy flora.

If you’re unsure what to take or are struggling with frequent diarrhea or excessive gas post-surgery, reach out to your surgeon and they can offer advice to help you get on track and restore balance.

Probiotics Can Promote Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery

“Good” bacteria’s purpose is to promote healthy digestion, which is especially important for post-bariatric surgery patients. Taking a probiotic containing multiple bacteria strains is a great way to support quicker recovery and more noticeable weight loss after bariatric surgery.

A study at Sanford University School of Medicine found that supplementing with a probiotic after a gastric bypass resulted in an average of 10 percent more weight loss versus not taking probiotics post-surgery. In addition to increased weight loss, benefits of including a probiotic in your daily routine have also shown a decrease in post-op GI distress and increased B12 levels.

Probiotics for Maintaining Gut Health

Probiotics can be found naturally or fortified in certain foods and beverages that you may already be eating, including the following:

  • Buttermilk
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Miso soup
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sourdough
  • Tempeh
  • Yogurt

Read product labels to see if an item contains “live and active cultures” — your sign that it includes probiotics. Eating probiotic-containing foods throughout your day is a good way to keep your gut health balanced. Fatty and sugary foods should also be limited if you’re trying to rebuild your good bacteria, as foods high in fat and sugar feed the “bad” bacteria, creating more difficulty for the good bacteria to foster.

Additional probiotic supplements come in capsules, tablets, powders and liquid form and can be found in most pharmacies and nutrition stores, online, and even in many big box stores.

To get the best value from these supplements, experts recommend taking them either first thing in the morning or at night right before bed, as taking them on an empty stomach helps them work best.

Find the Probiotics That Work For You

Strive to find a probiotic supplement with at least three strains of bacteria, as the more types a probiotic contains, often the better its effectiveness. Look for yogurts or supplements containing lactobacillus or bifidobacterium, as these common strains have been the most researched to have known benefits for GI health.

Before you start, consult your surgeon about what probiotics they recommend based on your unique health history and bariatric procedure.

Whole Care for Your GI Health

Discuss any medical or lifestyle changes you are considering with your health care provider, including adding new supplements like probiotics. If you have any concerns or questions about how a probiotic can help your GI health, our dedicated bariatric surgery and metabolic experts can help you find the right products and services to fit your needs.

Learn more about how we can support your weight loss goals and your whole health.

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