The gallbladder is an important hollow organ located behind the right lobe of the liver. The primary function of the gallbladder is to store, concentrate and secrete the bile that is produced by the liver when stimulated by the intake of food. For this reason, the health of the gallbladder and liver are often intertwined.
Bile is used by the body help us digest our food (more on bile below). Sometimes the concentrations of cholesterol and bile salts in the bile lead to formation of crystals, which can become sludge or stones (calculi).
The gallbladder serves an important digestive function. It is required to emulsify fats.
What is emulsification? One can easily understand this concept when washing greasy dishes. It is nearly impossible to properly clean greasy dishes without soap as the soap emulsifies the fat so it can be removed. Similarly, the gallbladder stores bile and bile acids, which emulsify the fat one eats so it can be properly transported through the intestine into the blood stream.
Anyone who has had their gallbladder removed will need to take some form of bile salts with every meal for the rest of their life, if they wish to prevent a good percentage of the good fats they eat from being flushed down the toilet. If one does not have enough fats in the diet, their entire physiology will be disrupted, especially the ability to make hormones and prostaglandins.
What are gallstones?
Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. The liquid, called bile, is used to help the body digest fats. Bile is made in the liver, then stored in the gallbladder until the body needs to digest fat. At that time, the gallbladder contracts and pushes the bile into a tube–called the common bile duct–that carries it to the small intestine, where it helps with digestion.
Bile contains water, cholesterol, fats, bile salts, proteins, and bilirubin. Bile salts break up fat, and bilirubin gives bile and stool a yellowish color. If the liquid bile contains too much cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin, under certain conditions can harden into stones.
What is bile and why do we need it?
Bile is made up of cholesterol, minerals, natural fats, bile acids, and pigments. Bile acids are steroids that are manufactured form cholesterol. Bile acids, along with lecithin, are required for the digestion and absorption of fats in the diet, while the other components of bile are metabolic waste. When these waste products become too concentrated, gall stones can from. The components of the bile must be properly balanced in order for the gall bladder to maintain health and function optimally.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your gallbladder and your other organs healthy.
Eleven Things You Can Do for a Healthy Gallbladder
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. A diet that is low in fiber is one of the major causes of gall-stones. Consuming fiber rich foods on a regular basis is the best way to prevent gall stones and to keep your gallbladder in good health.
- Drink plenty of water. Getting plenty of water is essential for maintaining the proper water content of bile. Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water or more per day.
- Eat foods that contain pectin. Pectin is a gel-forming dietary fiber. It binds with cholesterol and aids in its excretion. Since gall stones are made up of cholesterol, eating plenty of pectin may help to reduce gall stone formation. Foods that are good sources of pectin include fruits like apples, strawberries, and citrus fruits.
- Consume ground flaxseeds. Flaxseeds contain mucilaginous or gel-forming types of fiber, which can support the synthesis of bile acids by the liver. This is essential for keeping your gall bladder healthy.
- Eat your radishes. They help to increase bile flow which is helpful for maintaining a healthy gallbladder. However, individuals with existing gallbladder disease should not eat huge amounts of this vegetable.
- Avoid eating refined sugars, as they are a risk factor for gallstones.
- Avoid potential food allergens if you have an allergy or sensitivity. Food allergies have been shown to trigger gallbladder attacks.
- Consume foods such as avocadoes, olive oil, and flax seeds that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in the production of anti-inflammatory compounds in the body.
- Eat foods such as broccoli, bell peppers, and oranges that are high in vitamin C. A vitamin C deficiency can contribute to gallstone formation.
- Avoid all fried foods. Foods that are fried contain large amounts of fat. A diet that is high in unhealthy and damaged fats can put an extra strain on the gallbladder and liver.
- Exercise regularly. Maintaining a healthy body weight plays an important role in the prevention of gallstones and gallbladder disease.
The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, is especially true when it comes to maintaining gallbladder health. Eating a variety of healthful foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise are the best ways to keep your gallbladder and other organs healthy.
Gallbladder and Liver Cleanses
Gallbladder and Liver cleanses – are safe and proven natural methods to relieve digestive problems and clear built up congestion in the liver, gall bladder and bile ducts. Rather than taking the traditional, medical way of thinking by only looking at the symptoms, let’s now consider how to avoid the problem of a congested gall bladder and how to prevent the unpleasant effects.
A gall bladder cleanse is also a good “PREVENTATIVE care for your temple”, and in most cases, solve current gall bladder problems that people have developed due to a poor lifestyle of eating. You can expect to have improved digestive capacity, increased energy and a decrease in any digestive discomfort. Our certified Nutritionists and Medical Staff will review your body, systems, etc before suggesting which cleanse is best for you. Doing the “right” cleanse at the “wrong” time will result in many types of unpleasantries, which are easily avoided by proper counsel with a professional.
Stones in the gallbladder can lead to obstruction of the duct (tube) that drains the bile from the gallbladder. When food is ingested, the gallbladder contracts, trying to release bile. If the outlet is blocked with stones or sludge, patients experience pain in the right upper abdomen. This pain can be severe. It usually improves when the contraction stops.
The gallbladder can subsequently become inflamed due to prolonged obstruction. This is a condition known as cholecystitis. The pain in this situation will not let up. Another potential problem that can occur with stones is a blockage of the main bile duct. This occurs when a stone or stones get out of the gallbladder into the tubes that lead to the intestine. This can lead to jaundice (yellow skin) and severe potentially life-threatening infection. The pancreatic duct can also be obstructed at the point where it joins the main bile duct near the opening to the intestine. This can lead to inflammation in the pancreas known as pancreaitis. This, too, can be a severe life-threatening situation.
The gallbladder can also have functional problems that can cause pain. If it does not contract or empty properly (biliary dyskinesia) many of the same symptoms seen with gallstones can occur.
Gallblader Surgery – as a last resort…
Every year in the USA approximately 500,000 diseased gallbladders are surgically removed. The frequency of the procedure makes it the second most common surgery performed in this country – exceeded only by hernia repairs.
The purpose of the gallbladder is to store bile that is produced by the liver. Bile helps in the digestion of fatty foods. When fatty foods are eaten, the gallbladder releases bile into a system of ducts that lead to the small intestine. Bile ducts (tubes) from the gallbladder and the liver join to allow bile to flow into the small intestine.
Various medical conditions can cause infection or inflammation of the gallbladder. Sometimes, for example, hard gallstones form in the gallbladder. These stones can slip into the narrow bile ducts, obstructing them. Gallstones (cholelithiasis) can cause inflammation and infection of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), pain, fever, nausea, jaundice, and difficulty digesting fatty foods.
Prior to the late 1980s, removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) was a debilitating operation that required four to seven days of hospitalization and several weeks of recovery. Today, laparoscopic surgery has revolutionized the procedure, dramatically lessening patient discomfort, shortening the hospital stay and enabling most patients to return to normal activities within one week.
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.