Bloating and Excessive Gas
The relationship between the consumption of food, bloating, and excessive gas is a subject that comes up frequently. In our practice, this is a complaint usually raised 3 or 4 years after receiving the duodenal switch operation. It appears that patients eventually disregard the recommendations made for a healthier diet of low carbohydrate, high protein, hydration, supplements, and then everything else.
In general, carbohydrates, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners (such as Splenda®, sugar alcohols, etc.), vegetables, excessive amounts of food, and an intake of fat will cause significant gas and bloating. This is not to be taken out of context and assumed that one cannot consume any of these products. However a diet that has fruits and vegetables will cause significant gas and bloating. These can not be controlled by probiotics, antibiotics, or other products such as Beano.
Simple carbohydrates/sugars (sugar, candy, cakes, cookies, pies, regular soda pop, jelly, jam, syrup, ice cream, sherbet, and sorbet, etc.) are easily absorbed. Simple carbohydrates/sugars can increase diarrhea due to the Duodenal Switch allowing more undigested sugars/fuel for intestinal bacteria to feed upon, multiply and form gas. The end result can be gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Complex carbohydrates have more structure than simple carbohydrates/sugar which are harder for the intestinal bacteria to break down and may cause less bloating, gas and diarrhea. Also, complex carbohydrates usually contain higher fiber content. The fiber in the colon will help to absorb water from the stool and can reduce diarrhea. However, this is not the case for all Duodenal Switch patients.
When a patient reports these problems, I recommend that the consumption of all carbonated drinks should be stopped. No patient should consume carbonated drink of any sort. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided all together. A good alternative would be honey, maple syrup or Stevia. Minimize or reduce the carbohydrate intake.
It has been our experience in the majority of cases that excessive gas and bloating is a result of dietary indiscretion. In some patients, once the dietary sources have been ruled out, it should be further evaluated by a barium enema to rule out the diagnoses of a redundant colon.
The best approach would be to first go back to a high protein and low carbohydrate. This should allow a patient to rule out any dietary sources for the bloating and excessive gas. It is recommended to next be seen by your physician for a further workup.
To summarize, when a patient has excessive amount of gas, diarrhea and bloating, the first line of treatment is elimination of all of the possible causes. These include carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, artificial sweeteners, carbonated drinks and milk products. I can not overemphasize the importance of this step prior to anything else such as antibiotics or probiotics.