3 causes of digestive issues after WLS
Are you having digestive issues? Despite your efforts, you haven’t seen any result?
There are many factors that may contribute to proper digestive function. In any step of digestion, any break or defect will lead to dysfunction. So what does that mean?
Our bodies require certain things to function at the right time and in the right amount and strength to digest food effectively. That’s why so many people take proton pump inhibitors or PPIs to assist their digestion since they are missing some pieces. Identifying the missing pieces really helps to treat digestive dysfunction.
Here, we will discuss the 3 leading causes of digestive dysfunction and how to resolve them.
3 causes of digestive issues
There are many factors that can contribute to digestive issues, but the following are the most common:
- Stomach acid-suppressing medications
Cause # 1: CHEWING!
The first and most important part of digestion is chewing. The purpose of chewing food is to make it easier for it to be swallowed and digested once it enters the stomach. Chewing reduces food to a size that can further be degraded in the stomach by gastric juices, which then dissolve into microscopic particles.
Without proper chewing, larger food particles enter the digestive system, causing many digestive problems such as:
- food reactions
- lowered energy levels, etc.
The more you chew, the more digestive enzymes you produce. As a result, food is broken down further to aid in digestion.
Cause # 2: Stomach acid-suppressing medications!
Physicians often prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat symptoms like heartburn and stomach discomfort. Some people have made these PPIs a part of their life and have been using them for decades.
Which is not a good thing.
This is because proton-pump inhibitors suppress stomach acid production profoundly and for a prolonged period of time. Stomach acid plays a vital role in the process of digestion, especially in the digestion of proteins.
So without that piece, you are not going to have the protein broken down correctly. As a result, protein fermentation can occur in your colon, causing inflammation and imbalance.
Moreover, you cannot digest or absorb nutrients from food if your stomach acid is insufficient. In addition, the stomach may have difficulty absorbing minerals and proteins. As a result, you may experience:
- bacterial overgrowth, and more problems.
Cause # 3: Maldigestion!
Maldigestion is the third thing to consider when you have a break in digestion. You will experience some significant symptoms if your body cannot digest the foods you consume.
Bariatric patients feel like their food sits like a brick. When you eat a few bites, it feels heavy. There is a feeling that it isn’t moving, and it might be necessary to vomit. In some cases, people just seem miserable. They don’t want to eat anymore. Maldigestion causes these symptoms!
When you talk about maldigestion, you’re not just talking about stomach acid but also about:
- Bile → Liver + Gallbladder
- Pancreatic enzymes → Pancreas
- Small intestine
- Gut bacteria and so on.
Bile is either released from your gallbladder. If you still have that. If not, it’s released from your liver, and this is what emulsifies or breaks apart all the fat molecules. Allowing your body to utilize it, get it into our bloodstream, and make use of it throughout all our cells.
So bile is super important!
Without that piece, you will experience some digestive issues since bile flow also affects it.
When it comes to bile, your liver or gallbladder needs to be considered, as the liver produces and the gallbladder stores it. If either of those is not well, for example, if you have a fatty liver or if you have had your gallbladder removed, all of those will affect bile flow. So again, that contributes to digestive dysfunction.
During digestion, your pancreas produces enzymes. These enzymes convert sugars, fats, and starches into simpler forms. Additionally, your pancreas produces hormones that aid in digestion.
A lack of enzyme production by the pancreas may result in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). Having EPI can disrupt nutrient absorption, lead to weight loss, and cause vitamin deficiencies.
Small intestine & Gut Bacteria
Your small intestines take over once it (digesting food) gets dumped into your small intestines. 90% of food is absorbed and digested in the small intestine of the gastrointestinal tract. There are some additional enzymes released, and then gut bacteria play a role. Deficiencies in these functions may lead to nutritional deficiencies, diarrhea and other digestive issues.
Your gut bacteria play a role in continuing that process of digesting the food. If the gut bacteria are not balanced, a condition known as dysbiosis, you can also develop digestive problems.
So any piece of that is off is going to cause symptoms for you, such as:
- Heaviness with protein foods
- Overall issues with constipation or diarrhea and more.
Having identified the three main causes, let’s look at their solutions.
Solutions for digestive dysfunction
If you take care of yourself a little bit, you can easily overcome digestive dysfunction. Here are some simple solutions for you!
Solution # 1: Chew well!
One of the best things you can do is chew your food really well and eat slowly!
The American lifestyle is always on the move, so chewing twice or three times before swallowing is easy. But it’s not good for your digestion.
So don’t chew two or three times and swallow. Be present. Be aware and slow down! Make sure that you’re chewing your food well!
Solution #: 2 Getting off acid-suppressing medications!
Don’t stay on acid suppressing medications for longer than you need to. They weren’t meant to be lifelong. Yet, many have been on them for decades.
You should evaluate that and try to find ways to get off. However, there are some people who may need them. So talk to your doctor about that and have an honest conversation. Is this something that I could get off of? Could I attempt to get off of it? Always speak to your physician or the prescribing doctor first before stopping any medication.
Many bariatric patients are often put on these immediately after surgery. This is used to heal the tissue. The negative is they can get stuck on them. That’s why it’s important to wean off of them. Stopping PPIs abruptly is going to result in rebound reflux!
So making sure you work with someone to wean off of them appropriately adding in support strategies is important.
The key is that you wean off so that you can tolerate and manage to be off of them permanently.
Solution #: 3 Improve moisture support!
Try adding moisture to protein sources, such as meats, poultry, beef, and even seafood, with a thicker texture. If you had a tuna salad with mayonnaise and things like that, it wouldn’t react the same because it would be creamy and flaky. So you would digest that easier.
In other words, any time you add condiments, cream, soups, and marinades to meat, you will digest it better.
It is just a matter of supporting the moisture piece a little better, and your body will be more comfortable!
Identifying what’s driving the digestive issues and fixing the root cause is the key to seeing improvements in your symptoms.
Digestive dysfunction requires you to think about the big picture and to get help to fix what is happening regularly.
A common misconception among bariatric patients is that digestive issues are just part of the process. It’s just something you have to live with. Where in fact, there are solutions to your digestive issues. You no longer have to suffer.
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