Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of an obese patient’s stomach in hopes of making them eat less.
But new research suggests the underlying chemical changes that occur in the patient’s digestive system after surgery may be just as important – if not more so – to their ability to lose weight.
“We have more bacteria in our guts than we have cells in our bodies,” study author Randy Seeley told USA Today. “Those bacteria and their interaction with our bodies is really important.”
Scientists spent four years analyzing gastric bypass surgeries in mice. After bariatric surgery, our bodies increase liver bile acids that bind to a nuclear receptor called FXR, according to the study.
When researchers removed the FXR receptor from the mice, they lost less weight than other mice who had undergone a gastric bypass procedure.
The scientists also noticed changes in the mice’s gut bacteria.
The results of this study could lead scientists to develop new ways to mimic the effects of bariatric surgery without physically altering the stomach.