Bariatric Surgery is commonly used to induce significant weight loss in obese individuals. However, researchers have found that the procedure offers aid to those with type 2 diabetes too. In a research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, individuals with type 2 diabetes were assigned to receive either gastric bypass surgery, an adjustable gastric band or an intensive lifestyle change program. Through tracking participants closely for three years, it was found that individuals with type 2 diabetes experienced:

  • More weight loss
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Required less diabetic medications
  • Lower diabetes remission
  • Better cholesterol

How Does It Work?

Though researchers have a wealth of evidence showing it’s effectiveness, they are actually still unclear about the underlying mechanisms. It has been debated among researchers, if it is the alterations to the body (intestinal rearrangement) from the surgery that produces these changes or the low calorie lifestyle after. It seems likely it is a combination of both.

According to one research, after the procedure, the small intestine spontaneously begins to produce a molecule called GLUT-1 that helps the body use glucose.  This molecule is normally only found in fetuses. The mechanical stress of ‘dumping’ the food directly to the intestine, since the stomach is bypassed, as well as the fact that intestine needs to work harder could be factors in these changes.  There are three main factors that lead to the change:

  • Change how the hormones in your gut work, which in turn affects how your body makes insulin
  • Increase the amount of bile acids that your body makes – these make your body cells more sensitive to insulin
  • Improve the way the cells use insulin, leading to lower blood sugar levels.

Though, evidence seems to point that bariatric surgery is effective in putting type 2 diabetes in remission. It is not for everyone. Bariatric surgery requires drastic lifestyle changes and the procedure itself carries certain risk. Thus, it is usually only recommended for individuals over BMI of 35. However, researchers are continuing to study the mechanisms of it and hope to one day produce the same effects without the need of surgery.

 

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