HERE ARE SOME STRATEGIES TO HELP IMPROVE YOUR GALLBLADDER AND LIVER DISEASE!
Around 10 to 15% of patients are affected by gallbladder disease at some time in their life. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, belching, fever, right upper quadrant pain radiating to the right shoulder, bloating that gets worse after eating, and indigestion. An inflamed gallbladder (cholecystitis) can produce symptoms of a gallbladder attack with or without gallstones. Other problems of the gallbladder include sludge, polyps, cancer, and autoimmune disease. Thousands of people get their gallbladder removed yearly, but is there another way to possibly prevent or even reverse gallbladder disease? Yes, there is!
First, let me state that if you suddenly have a gallstone lodged in your biliary duct and it is causing inflammation and infection, you will most likely need your gallbladder removed. This is considered a medical emergency! Some patients, even after getting their gallbladder removed, still have symptoms. Removing the gallbladder doesn’t address what caused the stones to develop in the first place. One myth about gallstones is having to follow a low-fat diet to prevent or shrink stones. A low fat diet actually promotes the formation of stones because low fat diets promote bile stasis, and excess carbs are converted into fat in your liver. Gluten can interfere with your gallbladder contracting properly. Instead choose healthy fats such as ghee and coconut oil. Short chain or medium chain fatty acids don’t require bile for digestion or compromise the gallbladder. Examples of bad fats include margarine, dairy free spreads, vegetable oils high in omega 6 such as canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and grape seed oil. Avoid foods cooked in vegetable oil and processed foods containing vegetable oil. Avoid the fat found in dairy products such as butter, cream and cheese.
Risk factors for gallbladder disease include people who are overweight, females, fertile, individuals over forty, and fair skinned people. Oral estrogen and birth control pills increase risk of gallstones. Other risk factors include diabetes, hypothyroidism, food sensitivities, low stomach acid, gluten intolerance, rapid weight loss, low-fat diets, fatty liver, and high carbohydrate diets. Low stomach acid can be seen in patients who take antacids such as Nexium, Zantac or Prilosec. Having high cholesterol and taking medications for high cholesterol can increase your risk of developing stones.
The most important natural way to treat gallbladder disease is to heal your liver and improve your digestion! Your liver produces bile and an overloaded liver can cause unhealthy bile leading to gallstones. Some strategies to treat gallbladder disease include:
- Improve your bile flow – An abnormal composition of bile can promote gallstones. If there is too much cholesterol in relation to bile acids, cholesterol stones will develop. Drinking plenty of water prevents your bile from getting too thick. It’s recommended that you drink around six 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day. Also limit food groups such as high carbohydrate foods and foods rich in omega 6 fatty acids such as soft drinks, chips, cereal, rice, pasta, corn, wheat, and sugar. Eat foods with good fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, and avocado oil. Eating good fats helps promote gallbladder contractions and allows bile to enter your small intestine for digestion.
- Consume foods that promote improved digestion – There are specific foods that trigger the secretion of digestive enzymes and promote bile secretion. These foods include lemons, limes, beets, chicory leaves, endive, mint leaves, kale, basil and cabbage. Some people prefer to make raw vegetable juice and add an apple for sweetness.
- Consume foods that improve gallbladder function – Eat herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, dandelion root, globe artichoke, and peppermint.
- Avoid constipation – Constipation can prevent your body from secreting excess fats, bile, cholesterol, and toxins. These substances can put a strain on your liver. Strive to achieve 1 to 3 bowel movements per day to dissolve gallstones and keep your gallbladder healthy. Click on this Link to find suggestions for preventing constipation. I recommend starting with magnesium and probiotics. Start with a good quality probiotic that includes at least 15-20 billion strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacter species. Metagenics Ultra Flora Balance is a good start. Start by taking 1-2 per day. A good quality magnesium such as Natural Vitality Calm contains magnesium citrate which stimulates bowel movements. Start with 400 mg at bedtime and titrate as needed up to 800 mg.Check out my treatment for chronic constipation here.
- Add nutrients – Low levels of certain nutrients can trigger unhealthy bile that is low in bile acids leading to gallstones. Some important nutrients to consider are taurine, oxbile, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, N-acetylcysteine, and apple cider vinegar.
For more information along with recipes for improving your liver and gallbladder function read “Save Your Gallbladder Naturally and What To Do If You Already Lost It” by Dr. Sandra Cabot.