July 2021

The Importance of Protecting Your Immune System After WLS

We all thought 2020 was the only extraordinary year we would have, but here we are in 2021, and things are still looking and feeling a little uncertain.

So, of course, it’s paramount for us to take extra care of ourselves and others by implementing all the health advice offered around social distancing and sanitising our hands

. And the good news is, there’s so much we can do for ourselves to make sure we have all our nutritional “ducks in a row” so that we are best equipped to remain in good health whatever comes our way. Our immune system is the first line of defence against bacteria and viruses in the environment.

The efficiency of your immune system relies on several things. The key to fast recovery from invasive bugs and viruses is your immune health.

First is healthy skin, which acts as a barrier against letting things pass into our bodies. If the skin is broken or irritated and microbes gain access to our body, our immune system then kicks in to combat it.

Signs of poor immune health:

  • Slow wound healing/skin rashes such as candida (thrush)
  • Regular cold or flu
  • Cracked sore lips
  • Cold sores
  • Oversensitivity to foods or environmental allergens
  • Gastro infection
  • Regular Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Obesity is an inflammatory conditionwhich places a demand on your immune system.

This can lead to a lack of ability for working on other tasks, like fighting off colds and flu or healing skin.

One of the key benefits of your weight loss after bariatric surgery is reducing overall inflammation, which means you’ll likely see a boost in your immune health.

This is an excellent side-benefit of sleeve gastrectomy and other malabsorptive procedures, such as gastric bypass. Still, it also depends on some essential nutrients being on the scene, keeping your body in good health and your overall immune system defence at the read.

What impacts immunity?

Generally, if our body is working hard in some area, there can be a dip in our overall “defence system”.

  • Stress
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Malabsorption
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease will all have impacts on immune health. 

Whilst bariatric surgery is a step in the right direction to remove these stressors. The food you eat and how you supplement are now significant players in the picture of maintaining immune health and protecting yourself at a time, such as this one.

Which nutrients impact immunity?

A deficiency of single nutrients can alter the body’s immune response. Deficiencies in ZincSeleniumIron, Copper, Folic Acid, and Vitamins A, B6CD, and E can alter immune responses.

These nutrients help the immune system in several ways:

  • Working as an antioxidant to protect healthy cells
  • Supporting the growth and activity of immune cells
  • Producing antibodies

According to a range of studies found in 2020 by Harvard University, poorly nourished people are at greater risk of bacterial, viral, and other infections.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Reduce processed foods
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol, which depletes critical B group Vitamins
  • Manage stress
  • Sleep at least 8 hours each night
  • Take regular exercise to reduce high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and improve stress levels
  • Meet your protein target every day


Taking small steps every day goes a long way to support your long-term health, making you feel like you are taking control when things are changing all around us so rapidly. 

Here’s a great article from Harvard that outlines the importance of your nutritional intake and your ability to fight disease - read more.

Jacqui Lewis

BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

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