To determine how and why bone loss occurs after bariatric surgery, a series of studies were recently conducted by endocrinologists from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and published in a recent issue of the journal Obesity Reviews.
During their studies, researchers found that whether a person undergoes bariatric surgery or loses weight through other means, bone loss is associated with rapid weight loss in general. Bone loss may occur during weight loss because a person lacks bone-strengthening nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, or as a result of major hormonal changes that impact the central nervous system as a result of rapid weight loss.
To take their theories a step further, researchers examined the rates of bone loss across three different types of bariatric surgery: gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve, and LAP-BAND. Of these procedures, the gastric sleeve and LAP-BAND procedures were the least risky for long-term bone loss, whereas gastric bypass surgery proved to have the greatest risk for long-term bone loss.
The best ways to prevent bone loss after bariatric surgery are to perform strength-training exercises that strengthen bones, and to eat foods rich in calcium. In order for your body to properly absorb calcium, you must also take supplements or eat foods rich in vitamin D to avoid calcium leaving your body as waste. For example, you can pair foods rich in calcium such as spinach, kale, or okra with foods that are rich in vitamin D, such as cheese, beef liver, or fish such as tuna and mackerel.
Foods rich in calcium
- dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, turnips)
- fortified orange juice
Foods rich in vitamin D
- cod liver oil
- fatty fish species (tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines)
- beef liver
After undergoing bariatric surgery, speak with your healthcare provider for help with choosing calcium and vitamin D supplements, or with choosing a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to avoid bone loss. You can also consult with your healthcare provider or personal trainer in regards to starting a strength-training program that can help you with preventing bone loss, in addition to staying fit and healthy.