How Your Gallbladder Keeps You Healthy
- Despite what you may have been told, the gallbladder serves a very important digestive function. The gall bladder is a hollow inactive organ supplying bile to the digestive tract that is mainly used to emulsify fats and oils.
- The first step is to improving the health of your gallbladder immediately remove refined foods from your diet, especially synthetic fats like hydrogenated oils.
- The second step is to plan on exercising at least 30 minutes a day, every day.
- Although there are many websites that discuss a 24 hour gallbladder cleanse and the immediate flushing of stones, a gradual cleanse and the long term transition to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods and an active lifestyle is really the only way to both prevent gall stones and gallbladder dysfunction and support your body to returning to health.
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How Your Gallbladder Keeps You Healthy
Despite what you may have been told, the gallbladder serves a very important digestive function. The gall bladder is a hollow inactive organ supplying bile to the digestive tract that is mainly used to emulsify fats and oils. What is emulsification, you may ask? One can easily understand this concept when washing greasy dishes. It is nearly impossible to properly clean greasy dishes without soap - the soap emulsifies the grease 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. As I discussed in previous articles, if one does not have enough fats in the diet, their entire physiology will be disrupted, leading to numerous symptoms, from the ability to lose weight to chronic skin conditions.
Unfortunately, due to the popular myth that your gallbladder is not important, nearly one million people have unnecessary surgery to have their gallbladder removed! However, it is RARELY ever necessary to remove someone's gallbladder. If one ignores warning symptoms and does not address the reasons WHY their gallbladder is not functioning properly, than the disease can progress to the point where the pancreas is inflamed or the gallbladder is seriously infected and may have to be removed to save a person's life. But more than half the time that the gallbladder is taken out, however, the patient's pain that prompted the surgery still remains. This is because while the discomfort and pain associated with gallstones, the symptom, was removed with the gallbladder, the underlying problem of an unhealthy diet of processed foods and lack of exercise was never addressed. A cleaner diet results in healthier, thinner bile, allowing the body to self-regulate and eliminate the problem.
If you have abdominal pain that is immediately below your last rib on your right side and lined up with your right nipple, especially if your press down in that spot, there is a good chance that you have a gallbladder problem. When the liver is constantly stagnant, sediment often settles out of the bile and forms accumulations that resemble stones, sand or mud in the gallbladder. These stones are usually a combination of bile, cholesterol, calcium salts, and bilirubin, in differing amounts of each. These stones can be black, red, white, green, or tan-colored. The most common found during a flush is the pea-green color, which contain the highest concentration of cholesterol and are generally soft and easy to crumble. As the stones grow and become more numerous, they clog the tubing, creating back pressure on the liver, causing it to make less bile. The back-up of bile can cause jaundice which gives a yellow coloring to the skin and the whites of the eyes. Pigment gallstones are generally black and brown and contain more calcium than cholesterol. Research shows that bacteria plays a central role in the formation of pigment gall stones. Stones found in the bile ducts, regardless of consistency, nearly always have a bacterial component.
Symptoms of Gallstones
Symptoms of a gallbladder attack are often caused by gallbladder stones. A stone may block the neck of the gallbladder or get stuck in a bile duct inhibiting the flow of bile or possibly causing a backing up of bile. However, short of causing an actual attack, stones may be present for years and never cause any symptoms at all. The gallstones can impair the functioning of the gallbladder, however, which can result in any of the common gallbladder symptoms. These include indigestion, flatulence, periodic pain below the right side of the rib cage, tension in the back of the shoulder near the neck, a bitter taste in the mouth, and chest pain.
The first step is to improving the health of your gallbladder immediately remove refined foods from your diet, especially synthetic fats like hydrogenated oils. The second step is to plan on exercising at least 30 minutes a day, every day. Not only does regular exercise improve your blood sugar levels, immune function, reduce stress, build muscle and strengthen bones, but it also has been consistently associated with a decrease in gallbladder problems.
If the pain persists, however, there are numerous less invasive, dramatically less expensive, and decidedly less irreversible options than removing an organ that obviously exists in your body for a reason. Anyone who has had their gallbladder removed will then 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- proving that the gallbladder does in fact perform a very important function! Despite what you may have heard, it only makes sense to protect the health of your gallbladder now than to suffer the probable consequences of living the rest of your life without it.
A Gradual Cleanse - A Safer Option than Surgery
A gradual, gentle gallbladder cleanse is one of the ways that you can support your gallbladder, and your digestive system, in returning to a pain and symptom-free state of health and balance. For those unsure of how much sediment or stones they may have, a slow and Gentle 21 Day Gallbladder Cleanse is recommended and cleansing two or three times a year ensures a healthy gall bladder. During the cleanse be sure to avoid all foods high in fat, including meats, all dairy products, and eggs, as well as refined sugars, refined flours, hydrogenated oils, all sweetened drinks like soda, and irritants like coffee and heavy spices. Eating lots of fresh and lightly steamed and sautéed vegetables, live fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut (for an immune-boosting dose of healthy probiotics), fresh organic fruits, and soaked and sprouted legumes that will help clear the gallbladder of accumulated stones and sediment. There are a number of foods that can hasten gallstone removal, and they include lemons, limes, parsnips, pears, seaweed and turmeric. Whole beets and radishes are also an excellent way to thin the bile, so for the entire 21 days eat beets and 1-2 radishes a day between meals and drink three cups of cleavers tea or five cups of chamomile tea a day. Organic flax seed oil is also very important in restoring the health of the gallbladder. For every 160 pounds of body weight, use five teaspoons of cold-pressed flax seed oil. Pour the flax oil over your food during one meal of the day or divide into half and use on two meals. Take the flax oil six days a week for the 21 days, but then continue to take it for two months.
Although there are many websites that discuss a 24 hour gallbladder cleanse and the immediate flushing of stones, a gradual cleanse and the long term transition to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods and an active lifestyle is really the only way to both prevent gall stones and gallbladder dysfunction and support your body to returning to health. While the excitement of going on a cleanse or doing a detox, just like going on a diet, is appealing to many and even addictive to some, the benefits are rarely experienced. It is only through the desire for better health, a willingness to learn, and the gradual adoption of a healthy lifestyle that is lived day in and day out can we expect to experience the tremendous benefits of radiant health and vitality.
The New England Journal of Medicine September 9, 1999;341:777-784, 836-837.