Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Probiotics after Gastric Bypass Surgery

The use of probiotics has been of a growing interest lately, but did you know humans have actually known the benefits of bacteria for THOUSANDS of years? In fact, fermented milk products have been around since 10,000 B.C.! Kefir, a fermented milk drink used for generations in Asia has been said to help the body boost immunity, stimulate digestion, and be great for those with lactose intolerance.

The use of probiotics, also referred to as “good bacteria”, has been touted in diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and even in the prevention of cancer as they help to maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. Recently, there have also been studies looking at the role of probiotics in patients having undergone gastric bypass surgery.

To better understand how probiotics work, it’s important to look at our food history. Humans went from a diet rich in microorganisms, to a diet that is practically sterile, or free of organisms. This in turn reduced not only the amount of “bad bacteria” in the gut, but the amount of “good bacteria” too. We know that gastric bypass surgery may alter gastrointestinal (GI) microflora possibly resulting in bacterial overgrowth and dysmotility (food does not move through the stomach and intestines as it normally would), therefore, it has been suggested that the daily use of probiotics may improve GI outcomes after gastric bypass surgery.

To get the best of probiotics, when shopping for yogurt, look for products that feature the words “live” or “active” on the package. Other good sources of probiotics include blue cheese and other aged cheeses, kefir, acidophilus milk, and buttermilk which are all produced by fermentation. Certain nondairy fermented foods are also rich in probiotics, including sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage), and tempeh (a fermented soybean product) and soy sauce.

While it appears that probiotics may be beneficial to those who have had a gastric bypass, as with any new medication or supplement regimen, it is best to speak to your doctor or dietitian to see if probiotics are right for you!

Written by: Josie De Hoyos, UT Health Science Center at SA Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by: Anna Macnak, RD, LD