Bariatric surgery alters your digestive system and can affect your gut microbiome. Gut health is a strong indicator of your overall physical condition. Gut microbes perform several functions, including aiding food digestion, producing and synthesizing essential nutrients, and supporting the immune system. Taking probiotics after bariatric surgery can help restore and fortify your gut microbiome.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the good bacteria and yeast that make up a healthy gut microbiome. They are particularly effective at restoring gut health following a disturbance. Individuals can take probiotics in supplement form or by eating probiotic-rich foods. Some examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Fermented foods are generally good sources of probiotics. However, the average diet doesn’t often have enough of these foods to provide meaningful amounts of probiotics.
Why Do Bariatric Patients Need Probiotics?
Bariatric surgery alters your gut microbiome and nutrient absorption. Some procedures, such as gastric bypass, permanently alter how much nutrients you can absorb from food. However, all bariatric procedures reduce how much food you consume. Your nutrient uptake naturally decreases when you eat less, making nutritional supplements essential.
Your surgeon will recommend numerous vitamins and minerals to meet your nutritional needs. Probiotics often make the list, as they support the synthesis of other vitamins and can reduce gastrointestinal side effects during your recovery after bariatric surgery. Probiotics can also improve your weight loss by reducing inflammation in the GI tract.
How to Choose the Best Probiotic After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric patients should choose probiotic supplements designed with their unique needs in mind. Probiotics should also be easy to take. You will need chewable or liquid supplements in the initial phases of your recovery, as some bariatric patients have trouble swallowing as they acclimate to their new anatomy. If you can only find probiotics in pill form, you will need to use a pill cutter or crush them to divide them into smaller pieces. Most patients can begin swallowing regular size pills by two weeks post-op.
The probiotic units and the number of bacteria strains are also factors to consider. In general, probiotics with higher units and strains are more effective. Look for a probiotic that has at least 50 billion colony forming units (CFU) with numerous strains. The best strain types for bariatric patients are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These probiotics can help ease diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Lactobacillus can also provide relief for individuals with lactose intolerance.
Some brands to consider include Align, Culturelle, and Garden of Life. Your surgeon can also provide recommendations to help you pick the best probiotic supplement after bariatric surgery. Still have questions about lift after bariatric surgery? Schedule a consultation to learn if bariatric surgery is right for you.