A new study has offered insights into how gastric bypass surgery works to relieve symptoms of type 2 diabetes and send the disease into remission.
Gastric bypass is a widely used weight loss procedure that involves splitting the stomach into two sections and directing food to the smaller section, so that people feel full after eating less food .
More than eight in ten (85%) patients with type 2 diabetes who undergo a gastric bypass operation return to normal health within a few days, and now researchers in Sweden say they have found new clues as to how this happens.
Professor Nils Wierup, of the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden and colleagues examined four women who had gastric bypass surgery. During the operatio, a catheter was inserted into the larger, bypassed section of each patient’s stomach.
After the surgery, food was sent through the catheter into this part of the stomach . The hormones produced were analysed and compared to hormone activity when a meal was digested in the smaller section.
The researchers found that levels of insulin and other hormones were much higher when food was digested in the smaller part of the stomach instead of the larger bypassed section, helping to improve the patients’ blood glucose control. There was also a sharp rise in certain amino acids, while levels of blood lipids were roughly halved.
Lead author Prof Wierup said: “We believe these changes are part of the answer to why gastric bypass cures type 2 diabetes . We have looked at just a few intestinal hormones, but there may be a hundred or more involved in the body’s complex sugar metabolism .”
“Exploring the impact this surgery has on digestion could yield new, non-surgical strategies for treating diabetes and obesity.”
The research was published in the April 30 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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