Bariatric Surgery for Type 2 Diabetes: Not the Best Choice

November 07, 2016 | 276 views

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Undoubtedly, weight loss is something that many people struggle with, especially for those with type 2 diabetes. The widespread nature of weight problems has led to the creation of many solutions, and one solution that has garnered considerable attention is bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery, according to the Cleveland Clinic, " … [S]hrinks the stomach into a small pouch and rearranges the digestive tract so that food enters the small intestine at a later point than usual."

The result of this operation leaves patients with a smaller stomach, forcing them to consume less food, allowing them to lose weight overtime. In a testament to its growing popularity, the Cleveland Clinic placed bariatric surgery at the first place of its "Top 10 Medical Inventions for 2013."

One reason why bariatric surgery landed on top of the list is because Medicare and private insurance companies have started covering this method. It's almost as if the corporations are encouraging you to take the procedure, because the revenue from type 2 diabetes patients is all that matters to them.

Essentially, bariatric surgery is offering an easy way out for people who want to lose weight right away, and sadly many are deciding to go through with it.

While there are results that show the effectiveness of bariatric surgery, the invasive nature of the procedure and the risks involved should not be underestimated. The procedure dangerously modifies your body out of its normal structure, and can lead to serious complications.

The popularity of bariatric surgery is rooted in a lack of discipline for proper exercise and diet. You really don't need this method, because you can reverse type 2 diabetes by just making the necessary lifestyle changes.

The Two Types of Bariatric Surgery and Their Potential Dangers

It's no secret that complications can arise as a result of surgery. But what's surprising is that bariatric surgery seems to have a higher ratio of complications compared to other surgeries. I will now describe the two types of bariatric surgeries and outline the risks involved.

The first type is gastric banding. An elastic band is inserted close to the top portion of your stomach, creating a small pouch, effectively giving you a small stomach at the top and a large stomach at the bottom. Since your food goes into the smaller stomach first, you're tricked into feeling fuller much faster, preventing you from overeating and allowing you to lose weight over time.

Though gastric banding may be reversible once results are achieved, complications can still arise throughout the entire duration of the weight loss program. One study noted that nearly 40 percent of patients who had gastric banding surgery experienced the following life-threatening complications:

  • Band erosion
  • Kidney stones
  • Malnutrition
  • Infection
  • Liver failure
  • Bowel and gallbladder problems
  • Blackouts
  • Abnormal band expansion
  • Increased risk of death

The second type of bariatric surgery is gastric bypass. It involves stapling your stomach until it creates two stomachs — one small and one large stomach, similar to gastric banding. Then, a small hole is made in the small stomach that is connected to the small intestine, hence the "bypass." Your food also enters the small pouch first, so you're tricking yourself into feeling fuller quicker than normal. The pouch is typically made to hold only an ounce of food — an extremely small volume.

If your food is not chewed thoroughly, there's a chance it won't pass through the hole leading to the small intestine, increasing your risk of vomiting. It is necessary to eat your meals piece by piece, since nothing substantial would fit into the artificially reduced stomach. Beverages will be limited 45 minutes before and after a meal, because they'll take up all the space of your pouch and prevent any actual eating.

Another disadvantage of gastric bypass is the need to remove certain foods from your diet, such as skins of fruits and vegetables, where the bulk of antioxidants are found. Suffice to say, this is NOT an ideal way of losing weight because you are forcefully limiting yourself in a very drastic way.

Proper Diet and Fasting: A Safer Method for Weight Management

Bariatric surgery may seem like a quick way out, but it is a path strewn with dangerous obstacles. The ideal way to safely lose weight and even reverse your diabetes is through a healthy and well-balanced diet. Following healthy eating guidelines — and incorporating healthy lifestyle strategies such as high-quality sleep and optimizing your vitamin D levels  —  will put you on the path to proper weight management:

  • Avoiding unhealthy trans fats from processed foods and food cooked with partially hydrogenated oil
  • Eliminating sugar, especially fructose, and grains from your diet
  • Eating organic fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and nutrients, reducing inflammation throughout your body and promoting a healthy digestive tract
  • Getting healthy omega-3 fats from sources such as wild-caught salmon or supplements like krill oil to help reduce your risk of heart disease
  • Eating fermented foods to introduce good bacteria into your digestive system

Another effective way to help you manage your weight and diabetes is intermittent fasting. It's a scheduled eating plan where you take you take your meals within a six- to eight-hour window, starting at noontime. This method was inspired by our ancestors, who did not have access to food throughout the day.

The benefits of this method include switching your energy source from sugar to fat, which helps in weight management. It also normalizes your ghrelin levels, or your hunger hormone, helping preventing overeating. Intermittent fasting can even help optimize insulin sensitivity.

Losing weight and reversing diabetes don't need drastic (and extremely expensive) measures such as surgery because there are safer ways to achieve a healthier body. To learn more about the dangers of weight loss surgery, read my article "Why Weight Loss Surgery Is NOT a Sound Treatment Choice for Type 2 Diabetes."