Patients who lose weight through bariatric surgery generally aim to live healthier lives using bariatric surgery as a tool for weight loss and healthy weight management. Many patients fear nutrient deficiencies following malabsorptive surgery such as gastric bypass surgery because the surgery limits the absorption of nutrients from food. Patients are prescribed dietary supplements to ensure their nutritional needs are met.
However, a conscious patient will also include healthy nutritious foods in every meal to increase their chances of nutrient absorption. Here are five powerful natural foods that, when included in the healthy diet after weight loss surgery, can increase nutritional absorption and overall health for the bariatric patient:
- Spinach: Recognized as a good source of iron, spinach is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K as well as folate and magnesium. Fresh spinach is available pre-washed in the produce section of supermarkets. But studies indicate that frozen spinach is also nutrient-dense and serves as a key ingredient in many egg and protein dishes. Spinach is also higher in protein than most vegetables with 2 grams of protein per 2 cups of raw spinach.
- Oranges: We know that oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C which helps boost immunity and fight colds. Oranges also contain folate and flavonoids which are known to fight cancer. Now available year-round, oranges are an inexpensive fruit that can be included in a healthy diet after weight loss surgery as a snack or recipe ingredient.
- Garlic: Garlic has been used medicinally since ancient times and modern science suggests that garlic may be effective in fighting cancer and heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Considered a vegetable, garlic is an inexpensive flavoring for savory protein dishes. At the market, select a full, plump head of garlic with a taut, unbroken outer skin. To use, separate the cloves from the head and use as directed. To temper the pungent flavors of garlic that cause bad breath, blanch whole, unpeeled garlic cloves for a few minutes. This will also make them easier to peel.
- Mushrooms: While trying to eat a rainbow of colors from vegetables, don’t overlook the humble mushroom. Although they don’t have the vibrant color we associate with antioxidant-rich vegetables, these little mushrooms offer a similar antioxidant effect. Although very low in calories, mushrooms contain compounds that appear to fight cancer by inhibiting certain steps in tumor formation. Look for clean, plump, moist mushrooms and clean them by gently wiping them with a damp paper towel or soft brush to remove dirt and debris.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is an important source of calcium and provides a good amount of protein when included in the bariatric surgery diet. The live cultures in yogurt can help prevent digestive problems such as diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease. A one-cup serving of low-fat yogurt provides 155 calories, 45% of the daily value for calcium, and 13 grams of protein. Enjoy yogurt with fresh fruit or include fat-free Greek yogurt as an ingredient in recipes that call for sour cream, replacing sour cream with equal parts Greek yogurt.
Spinach, oranges, garlic, mushrooms, and yogurt are commonly available affordable foods that can be easily included in a bariatric surgery patient’s diet. Patients who include a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits in their diet are more likely to achieve desired weight loss and maintain a healthy weight than those who rely exclusively on supplements for their nutritional health.