It is quite common for patients of gastric bypass, gastric banding and gastric sleeve weight loss surgery to report an increase in uncomfortable intestinal bloating and the frequent release of foul and offensive gas. Some patients report the problem of gas to be so offensive they suffer chronic embarrassment leading them to isolation. By its nature gastric surgery changes the human digestive process and increases the occurrence of gas. In addition, weight loss surgery patients follow a high protein, low carbohydrate diet which is also known to cause gas. Understanding what causes excessive flatulence is the first step to implementing therapies to reduce the occurrence and offensiveness of this natural body function.
High Protein Diet: Weight loss surgery patients who follow a strict high protein diet frequently report excessive flatulence beyond the 14 releases per day experienced by adults with a healthy digestive tract. In digestion proteins are broken down with the secretion of hydrocholoric acid which allows the activation of pepsin, a protein digesting enzyme. Weight loss surgery patients become deficient in hydrocholoric acid or pancreatin when their intestines are shortened or bypassed with surgery. Therefore the gastric enzymes and acids to facilitate complete digestion are deficient and excessive gas can be produced. A high protein diet, by nature, is a diet low in fiber intake. The absence of adequate fibrous carbohydrates leads to waste material moving too slowly through the large bowel and constipation and flatulence results.
To reduce the occurrence of flatulence associated with a high protein diet stay hydrated by drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily. The water will help to move food along the digestive and intestinal tract preventing the build-up of gas. Eliminate processed meat, cured meat, beans, tofu and soy products from the diet for several days until symptoms of chronic flatulence are reduced.
Sugar Replacers: Weight loss surgery patients are strongly encouraged to eliminate sugar and sweets from their diet. Many people include products labeled “sugar-free” in their diet to satisfy sweet cravings. Sugar-free products use sugar replacers, a term to describe the sugar alcohols such as mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, isomalt, and lactitol, that provide bulk and sweetness to cookies, hard candies, sugarless gums, jams, and jellies. Sugar alcohols evoke a low glycemic response because the body absorbs them slowly making them slow to enter the bloodstream. However, side effects such as gas, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea, are so extreme that regulations require food labels to state that “excess consumption may have a laxative effect.”
To decrease the gas associated with sugar alcohols eliminate or reduce the intake of food containing sugar alcohol. Do not exceed package serving size of sweets made from sugar alcohol.
Therapies to Reduce Offensive Flatulence: The following therapies may be effective in reducing embarrassing and uncomfortable gas and bloating associated with the diet after gastric weight loss surgery
Beano: A few drops help prevent gas formation. Not effective in preventing bloating and gas pain, however will prevent gas-passing or flatulence.
Chamomile, ginger and papaya teas: good digestive aides, nerve tonics, and cramp and pain relievers.
Peppermint oil: relieves flatulence and related pain.