Recipes to improve digestive health issues after weight loss surgery
The majority of stomach problems after weight loss surgery can be traced to “2” separate but very connected digestive processes.
- Stomach Acid (i.e. gastric acid, gastric juice)
- Digestive Enzymes (pepsin, amylase, protease)
Low to no stomach acid creates many digestive health issues after weight loss surgery
Stomach Acid, commonly called gastric acid/gastric juice, is a digestive fluid formed in the lining of the stomach that plays a key role in the digestion of food.
Stomach acid is composed of hydrochloric acid (HCl), potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl). This acid mixture helps with digestion of proteins, by activating digestive enzymes, and making ingested proteins unravel so that digestive enzymes break down the long chains of amino acids.
Stomach acid also works with other feedback systems involving your gall bladder, liver and pancreas to aid in the digestion of carbohydrate, protein and fat. With removal of stomach tissue , it stands to reason low to no stomach acid (Hypochlorhydria/Achlorhydria) would be a common problem after weight loss surgery.
For more information on the associated digestive health issues of low to no stomach acid after weight loss surgery read this article here
Here are 8 common symptoms caused by low stomach acid after weight loss surgery
1. Bloating &/or belly distention after meals
3. Heartburn, or take antacids (Tums, Zantac), or PPI’s (Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, etc.)
5. Undigested food in stools
6. Abdominal pain
7. Aversion to meat
8. Macro & micronutrient deficiencies, regardless of consistency
Inactive digestive enzymes aid in undigested food making it into the intestines
Digestive enzymes help break down macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) into their smaller building blocks in order to facilitate their absorption by the body.
Digestive enzymes are classified based on their target substrates.
- Proteases and peptidases split proteins into small peptides and amino acids.
- Lipases split fat into three fatty acids and a glycerol molecule.
- Amylases split carbohydrates such as starch and sugars into simple sugars such as glucose.
- Nucleases split nucleic acids into nucleotides.
Naturally, digestive enzymes are secreted in the mouth, stomach, & intestines and it is stomach acid that turns the enzymes “ON”. Without stomach acid, the gallbladder, liver & pancreas are not notified, therefore digestive enzymes remain dormant and inactive making it difficult for your body to digest protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Making an already bad digestive health issues worse, many WLS patients are prescribed heartburn medications (PPIs-proton pump inhibitors) for years or even decades either before or after surgery. These medications virtually shut off all stomach acid.
If the stomach doesn’t have an acidic environment, digestive enzymes are not activated and the imbalance in the stomach and intestines is further exacerbated making an already bad situation worse.
Why small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is so prevalent among weight loss surgery patients
Once undigested food makes it through the stomach and into the intestines it begins to ferment. Especially with constipation or other motility issues (read more here).
This creates the perfect environment for the small intestines to be over-taken by bacterial growth. This disease is called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and is found in over 40% of weight loss surgery patients (learn more here).
Here is a list of digestive health issues related to undigested food entering the intestines
- skin conditions like eczema, acne, & psoriasis
- poor energy
- constipation and/or diarrhea
- increased intestinal permeability(read more here)
- liver toxin overload
- vitamin, mineral & protein deficiencies(read this study for more detailed information)
- autoimmune conditions
- yeast overgrowth
- food sensitivities & allergies
- crohns disease
- restless leg syndrome(RLS)
Optimizing digestive health is a must for weight loss surgery patients
As the dynamic world of gut health research continues to develop, there is no disputing the impact poor digestive health has on the overall physical and mental well-being of weight loss surgery patients.
The good news for many patients is low to no stomach acid and inactive digestive enzymes can be corrected.
Here are 6 diet, lifestyle and supplementation steps to help increase stomach acid and activate digestive enzymes
- Don’t drink during or after meals, an easy rule to forget after WLS but will dilute stomach acid
- Manage stress before meal time as high stress shuts off stomach acid & digestion
- Consuming ginger will improve digestive juices by adding ginger root to protein smoothies or as a tea
- Adding lemon to water provides organic acids that help fight the bacterial load in the stomach
- Use good quality digestive enzymes designed specifically for weight loss surgery patients, click here GastricHealth
- Consume fermented veggies like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles(all refrigerated from health food store), all which contain enzymes & probiotics that improve digestive juices secretion
Incorporating these simple diet, supplement and lifestyle habits will put yourself on the path to improved digestive health.
We have provided the following recipes to help with this process.