Taking probiotics after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery can help obese patients to lose weight more quickly, according to a new study.
Probiotics are the so-called 'good' bacteria found in yoghurt as well as in over-the-counter dietary supplements that help in the digestion of food.
New research from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Hospital and Clinics suggests that patients who take probiotics after the gastric-bypass procedure tend to shed more pounds than those who don't take the supplements.
"Surprisingly, the probiotic group attained a significantly greater percent of excess weight loss than that of control group," said John Morton, MD, associate professor of surgery at the medical school who wrote the paper with lead author Gavitt Woodard, a third-year medical student, and five other medical students at the Surgery Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation in Stanford's Department of Surgery.
The researchers followed 44 patients on whom Morton had performed the procedure from 2006 to 2007. Patients were randomized into either a probiotic or a control group.
Other groups received the same bariatric medical care and nutritional counseling, as well as the support of weight-loss study groups. Both groups also were allowed to consume yoghurt, a natural source of probiotics.
In addition, the probiotic group consumed one pill per day of Puritan's Pride, a probiotic supplement that is available online and in many stores. Morton has no financial ties to the company that makes the supplement.
The study showed that at three months, the probiotics group registered a 47.6 percent weight loss, compared with a 38.5 percent for the control group.
The study also found that levels of vitamin B-12 were higher in the patients taking probiotics - a significant finding because patients often are deficient in B-12 after gastric-bypass surgery.
The probiotics group had B-12 levels of 1,214 picograms per milliliter at three months, compared with the control group's levels of 811 pg/mL.
Morton said he now recommends probiotic supplements to his patients, and he plans to continue to look for ways to enhance the outcomes from the procedure.
The study has been published in the July issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery.