Vegetables cause weight loss because they don’t digest quickly

Dr Terry Simpson weight loss surgeon

Good morning, forgive me if I am boring but as I drink my cup of Peet’s this morning I have been pondering the wonders of the alimentary canal. So, before I get started, I have to refill my cup, so if you are drinking anything great please refill your cup.

While drinking your coffee I want you to think about your small bowel. We won’t talk about the large bowel, because – well, that’s for another day and after my cup of coffee. This is the 22 feet of small bowel, and I want you to think of this as a canal.

Food is deposited into the first part of this canal, and in this first part of the canal are all sorts of cells that are ready to take up glucose – because glucose is the precious currency of the body, the way that every cell from the brain to the heart and the toes use to function. If you take up too much glucose it will convert it to some harmless glycogen for your muscles. If you take up fructose, the other half of table sugar, there are all sorts of bad things that can happen – and I wrote an entire blog about them here.

But you don’t eat chemicals, you eat food – and this 22 feet of small bowel will break that food down completely, like a wood chipper does to branches.

If some food survives to the end of the 22 feet then something magical happens. It puts the break on the stomach – it tells the stomach to stop emptying. The last bit of small bowel is called the ileum, and this is called the ileal break. Do you remember the last big meal you had where you felt stuffed for hours and your stomach didn’t empty? There are two reasons the stomach doesn’t empty in two hours (a) You have eaten something bitter and the stomach is deciding if it is poison or not or (b) Food has reached the last part of the ileum (small bowel) and it is sending a signal back to not empty any more food for a bit.

What food doesn’t make it to the last part of the small bowel? Chips won’t make it there. You can eat chips all day long, snack on them forever and those won’t make it out of the first food of the alimentary canal. Ice cream, soda, flour products, dairy – none of them make it out of the first foot of that 22 foot canal.

Steak you think? Funny thing – most of the protein you eat is completely broken down to its amino acids and they are absorbed before the last foot of small bowel. Yes – that old myth that meat hangs around for days is just that, a myth.

What doesn’t get digested is vegetables. They are the thing that forms a mass that makes it through that canal to the end, and it is that bulk of vegetables that put the break on the stomach saying “stop, no more for a bit.” Salads, by the way, really don’t do much- most people put few vegetables in a salad (although they think they do).

One other thing they do – most vegetables have a bitter taste, and that bitterness is what keeps the stomach from emptying fast also.

So here is a rule: if you want to lose some weight, increase the number of vegetables you are eating. In fact most need to. Vegetables as in whole plants, not juice. What is a “serving size” of vegetables? It is about 1/2 cup – and if you are having five servings a day of fruits and vegetables you are going to do great things for your body.

In my series Eat Big But Small – I emphasize vegetables. Especially these: broccoli, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collards. Those should be a large part of your meals.

Maybe I should call my new book: Alimentary Adventures.

Thank you for those who have taken my course in Mastering the Lap-band or Mastering Gastric Sleeve surgery – it seems they really have enjoyed it. Some post their homework on my Google plus site and some don’t.

If you are a patient of mine, we have an entire “secret” meeting site on google plus. Just fine me there and message me and I will invite you: Dr. Terry Simpson’s Google+. You can also find me on twitter @drterrysimpson or on Facebook but the real magic for my patients happens in our Google Plus group that is not seen by others.

Off to do 10,000 steps – hope you are too. Until then, think about that canal, and if you are including enough food to fill that for the distance – otherwise you might truly be eating empty calories.