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Public release date: 20-May-2008

Researchers searching for solutions to gastric motility issues following gastric bypass surgery discovered some unexpected results including enhanced weight loss, better GI quality of life and lower Hydrogen (H2) breath test values (which measure the level of hydrogen in the breath to diagnose conditions that cause GI symptoms) with the use of probiotics.

A potential complication after gastric bypass surgery is bacterial overgrowth, which may affect gastrointestinal functioning, quality of life and weight loss. In an attempt to combat this bacterial overgrowth and its consequences, patients in this study were given probiotics to restore a good bacterial balance in the digestive system.

“Finding that probiotics can actually enhance weight loss was an unexpected result,” said John M. Morton, MD, MPH, associate professor at the Stanford School of Medicine. “There is no magic bullet for fighting obesity, but this simple dietary supplement may be one more weapon we can add to our arsenal.”

Forty-two patients who had successfully undergone gastric bypass surgery were broken into two randomized groups. One group was given probiotics in the form of 2.4 billion colonies of Lactobacillus daily and the other group served as the control group. The GastroIntestinal Related Quality of Life (GIRQoL) survey, H2 breath test and weight were obtained pre- and post-operatively at three and six months.

At six months, patients receiving the probiotics fared better in all categories including a statistically significant improvement in their GIRQoL and lower H2 breath test values, indicating lower levels of harmful gastrointestinal bacteria. The most surprising aspect of the study was the increased weight loss after surgery with the addition of probiotics. Past studies have shown a difference in gastrointestinal bacteria between obese and lean animals.

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