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September 23, 2014 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Essential Nutrition for Bariatric Success

By Chelsea More Blogs by This Author

If you’re thinking about bariatric surgery, you’ve probably already done some research and had your suspicions confirmed: There’s no magic cure or quick fix to get the healthy body you need without nutrition playing a role. Of course, it’s technically feasible to lose weight (with or without surgery) while having a poor diet. After all, if you eat just 1,000 calories every day in candy bars and nothing else, you’ll probably lose weight but your body will be dying from lack of nutrition.

Without proper nutrition, your body won’t be able to function and your appearance will also be impacted (think hair loss, skin issues, etc). Taking in the right amount of macronutrients is especially crucial in the three months following bariatric surgery. However, according to Belgian researchers, there is still a “worryingly low level” of macronutrients being taken by post-surgery patients.

What the Research Shows

A collaboration between researchers at Leuven University College, KU Leuven/University Hospitals and University Hospitals Leuven revealed that even though bariatric surgery is one of the few treatments that can promise sustained weight loss in many obese patients, it can also be linked to nutritional deficiencies. Is your surgery causing your deficiencies, or is it how patients are handling nutrition after surgery that’s the culprit?

The researchers looked at macro- and micronutrient intake of patients before and after gastric bypass surgery.

At the Proceedings of the Fourth Belgian Nutrition Society Symposium 2014 in Brussels, the investigators revealed that after studying 32 patients who kept a food journal two days before and three months after surgery, they found most patients in desperate need of more nutrients.

Common Behaviors

The study showed that one month after surgery, the levels of both macro- and micronutrients dipped dangerously low, but at the three month mark the macronutrient intake goes up. However, the micronutrient levels remain very low even after three months. The researchers note, “Our data clearly suggests that nutritional guidance is essential following bariatric surgery.”

The complete report can be found in the Archives of Public Health, entitled “Proceedings of the Fourth Belgian Nutritional Society Symposium 2014: Genes and nutrition, is personalized nutrition the next realistic step?” However, those considering bariatric surgery should also speak with their doctors and nutritionists about getting the nutrition they need.

What You Can Do

Whether it’s solely the patient to blame, the surgery or a combination of both, there are many ways to increase your intake of macro- and micronutrients with both whole foods (the best option) and perhaps supplements. Only a doctor can prescribe the right eating lifestyle for you when facing such an invasive surgery, and you may want to have a doctor monitor your nutrition levels before and after surgery.

Having the right nutrition is essential for a body to heal. Without it, you might be signing up for a longer recovery and not maximize the benefits of your surgery.

Finally, Know that Nutrition is ALWAYS a Factor

Whether you are obese and undertaking a bariatric surgery plan or just need to lose a few pounds and going about it the old fashioned way, nutrition is always a factor. Getting the right amount of protein, healthy fats, produce, and all the nutrients that naturally occur in these is essential to your body’s ability to thrive, not merely survive. Good nutrition can boost your mood and heal your body. Excellent nutrition can amplify the effects of exercise and give you the strength to take your fitness routine to the next level. 

If you’re in a rut, feeling malnourished, or just aren’t sure how to get what you need or tailor your budget to include the nutrients you need, whether from supplements or just food, consider reaching out to your surgeon, physician, or naturopath to discuss your options. Whether or not you’re undergoing surgery, proper nutrition can change your life!

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