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Originally published July 30 2004

Gastric bypass surgery should be a last resort, not a choice of convenience

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

An article in USA Today talks about Raechel Arnold -- a teenage girl who has undergone gastric bypass surgery and managed to lose a significant amount of weight, dropping from 323 lbs to 165 lbs. The article reads like a brochure for gastric bypass surgery, showing just how successful the procedure has been for this girl. This is all part of a recent wave of publicity for gastric bypass surgery as a treatment for obesity, but there's a problem with this approach to surgical procedures and the related publicity in the national press. Too many people are turning to gastric bypass surgery as a choice of convenience -- because they're simply not interested in doing the other things that can help a person lose weight, such as making new food choices or engaging in regular physical exercise. Interestingly, most people end up making these changes after they've had gastric bypass surgery, except now they're missing part of their digestive tract, and the damage to their bodies simply cannot be reversed.

In this case, Raechel says she tried in vain to lose weight, attempting to drop body fat with the Atkins diet, SlimFast meal replacement supplements, Weight Watchers, and weight-loss prescription drugs prescribed by a doctor. She says, "My body was saying it was hungry all the time." Well, it's not difficult to see why these dietary approaches didn't work -- SlimFast, for one thing, is a product that's made primarily with refined white sugar, and trying to lose weight by drinking large quantities of sugar is absolutely ridiculous.

The real problem that Raechel was having here is rather obvious: she has a brain chemistry imbalance that's causing cravings for carbohydrates. So the real problem for Raechel was initially a brain chemistry balancing issue, not the fact that she had too much stomach and needed to have part of it stapled shut or surgically removed. All she needed to do was balance her brain chemistry.

So how do we balance our brain chemistry using natural methods, without turning to prescription drugs or radical surgical procedures? The answer is rather straightforward. I'm willing to bet this is something that Raechel didn't try: natural sunlight. Exposure to natural sunlight has a powerful effect on brain chemistry, and especially on carbohydrate cravings. It works because lack of sunlight results in an increase of melatonin in the brain, which competes for serotonin, and when a person does not have adequate exposure to natural sunlight, melatonin levels are high and serotonin levels are low, causing extreme carbohydrate cravings. This can be quite simply reversed by getting daily exposure to natural sunlight on your skin without sunscreen, thereby suppressing the melatonin and allowing serotonin levels to naturally climb. In time, carbohydrate cravings will be dramatically reduced.

Carbohydrate cravings can also be further suppressed by choosing your foods carefully. If you avoid all refined carbohydrates, such as bread products, breakfast cereals, soft drinks, and anything made with refined white flour or high fructose corn syrup, you will stabilize your appetite and blood sugar levels. Avoiding the consumption of such food ingredients automatically reduces carbohydrate cravings throughout the day, and this is why the Atkins diet and low-carb dieting in general has been so successful for so many people.

The other thing you can do to suppress carbohydrate cravings is to engage in some sort of regular physical exercise. Even daily walking alters your brain chemistry in a powerful and positive way, reducing carbohydrate cravings and enhancing the production of healthful brain chemicals that automatically lead you to healthier dietary choices. These are just a few of the many things a person can do to balance their carbohydrate cravings and alter their brain chemistry in a healthful way, without turning to prescription drugs or radical surgical procedures such as gastric bypass surgery.

And yet, note that none of these things generate any profits whatsoever for organized medicine. There's no drug here, there's no surgical procedure here, in fact, there's nothing here that even needs a doctor. You can go outside and get sunshine on your own, every day, absolutely free, at no charge. You don't need approval of the FDA, you don't need 20 clinical trials telling you that sunlight is good for you, and you don't need the advice of a doctor to get sunlight and benefit from it. You also don't need medical personnel to help you make healthier food choices. You simply need to educate yourself about nutrition, and the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy food, and by the way, that information is not generally known by physicians because nutrition is not taught in medical schools.

So when people say that they are undergoing gastric bypass surgery after "trying everything", the truth of the matter is they haven't tried everything, and probably they haven't even tried the basic things such as natural sunlight, exercise and food choice. If you try those three things, and actually do them, and still manage to remain extremely obese, only then does it make sense to seek additional help, and even in that case, gastric bypass surgery should be something that's considered only as a last resort. The interesting thing about all this is that even if you have gastric bypass surgery, you will have to control your food choices after the surgery, making sure you don't eat too much sugar, that your portion sizes are very small, and that, for example, you eat your protein first. If you would just make these changes to your lifestyle before having the surgery, you probably wouldn't need the surgery at all. And you can live your life with your entire digestive system intact.

Unfortunately, today gastric bypass surgery is being marketed and promoted to obese patients as a panacea for obesity. It's being offered as a first choice rather than a last resort. It's being sold to people as a way for them to automatically lose weight without having to make changes in their lifestyle.

This brings up another point -- I think there's a great misconception in American society that everything has to be easy, that things have to be convenient and results have to be instant. There's nothing easy about losing weight and making healthy food choices and exercising on a regular basis, at least not at first. Over time, of course, it gets very easy and becomes a natural part of your life, but in the beginning it's not easy at all, and I'm not claiming it is. I know from experience what it's like to be overweight, to be borderline diabetic, and to make these tough choices day after day until your body and mind begins to adjust to them. It's not easy, and there is no strategy for weight loss that is easy. If you undergo gastric bypass surgery, you might say, "Well, that was easy." But the fact is, it's not easy on your body, and it's not easy on your long-term health.

We are just beginning to experiment with gastric bypass surgery on a large-scale basis. As a society we do not know the long-term implications of living with part of your digestive system removed. Gastric bypass surgery, like all surgical procedures, does not have to be approved or proven effective in order to be marketed and performed on patients. People who are undergoing this surgical procedure today are the guinea pigs. They are the people who are being tested, and in 10 or 20 years we may find out that this is a terrible mistake, that these people are subject to side effects that we could not have predicted today, and that their lifespan may be just as short as if they had remained overweight. It is a grand experiment, folks, and if you undergo gastric bypass surgery today, you are allowing yourself to be part of this experiment.

Plus, it will cost you as much as $40,000 to play the guinea pig.


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