What is GLP-1 & why should I know about it if I’ve had bariatric surgery?

Eating Wordle

By now, we’ve all learned a thing or two about the complexity of obesity. Indeed, how our bodies manage weight is not as simple as the old equation diet + exercise. Obesity is considered a chronic, relapsing chronic disease (https://www.cma.ca/En/Pages/cma-recognizes-obesity-as-a-disease.aspx). As with other chronic diseases, there are multiple behavioural and physiological influences on how obesity unfolds for any one person.

When patients go through bariatric surgery, then, it is not simply food restriction and malabsorption that can support weight loss and weight maintenance. By altering anatomy, there are corresponding changes to signals in the body. Hormones and other factors in the stomach, intestines and fat cells interact to benefit blood sugar regulation, absorption of calorie-containing nutrients and use of energy in the body cells.

One of these hormones is Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (or GLP-1 for short). GLP-1 is secreted from the cells of the small and large intestine after eating a meal. It triggers events that help sugar (from food) to be used by body cells for energy. This leads to improved blood sugar management and a lower appetite. For patients who have bariatric surgery, this can improve diabetes prevention and treatment. It can also help manage hunger and satiety cues.

Patients have a role in helping out the body physiology, too! Before and after surgery, maintaining regular, balanced meals can support how hormones are released and used in the body. So, step into the equation healthy behaviours + supportive physiology = healthier living.