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Interesting Information: What Causes Gallbladder Dysfunction?

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Interesting Information:  December 17, 2013

What Causes Gallbladder Dysfunction?

My father’s gallbladder blew up one day, nearly killing him.

Emergency surgery followed.

My dad had no choice, and he was lucky.

But removing the gallbladder is also a serious thing to do.  And this removal may have contributed to my father’s growing inability to absorb the nutrients from his food, particularly vitamin B12.

In my 40’s, I started having symptoms that I felt were signs that maybe my gallbladder was not so healthy either.  I was at that time “female, fat, and forty.”  (I’m still female, but not fat or forty.)

This episode may have been the start of my interest in healthy food for healthy bodies.  I tried to be a vegetarian, and while the gall bladder issues cleared up (probably because I ate a lot of cheese and olive oil), I set in motion a new set of more severe symptoms–hair loss, nail splitting, more weight gain, and a bunch of new cavities.  And, I think I caused the start of my leaky gut problems, which led, in turn, to the food allergies with which I live today.

So, what does cause the gallbladder to run amok?

Laurel Blair, N.T.P., takes on this issue in “A Nutritional Perspective on Gallbladder Health,” in Well Being Journal, July/August 2012.

The gallbladder is a “small storage organ that sits just below the liver.”  The liver produces bile, and the gallbladder stores the bile.  “Bile released from the gallbladder is an emulsifier that enables us to absorb dietary fats, as well as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and essential fatty acids such as omega 3’s.  Without bile, these nutrients pass through our bodies without being absorbed.”

And, I know from other research, that if the delicate balance of our bodies gets “off,” it begins to rob stored nutrients to try to make the whole system work or to, at least, make a particular part of it work.  Is that what happened to my dad?

So, modern medicine removes diseased gallbladders.  And in my dad’s case, he was lucky that his gallbladder blow out didn’t cause other tissues/organs, etc., to become diseased.

But, taking out a diseased gallbladder never deals with the cause of the gallbladder disease.  So now a person has no gallbladder AND still has the original problem that caused the disease in the first place.

What is the cause of gallbladder disease?  Here’s Blair’s answer:

What causes gallbladder dysfunction in the first place?  There are a number of factors that can play a role, including food allergies and obesity, but the two that seem to be the most important are low-fat diets and excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates.

The gallbladder is designed to empty several times per day in response to dietary fat and acidity, but it can continue to concentrate and store bile temporarily when food is scarce.  When you eat a meal that contains little or no fat, the gallbladder will not get the message to empty itself.  The liver, however, will continue to make more bile whether the gallbladder empties or not.  The gallbladder has the ability to concentrate the bile and save it for the next meal.  But if the next meal (and the next, and the next) is low in fat as well, the bile begins to become thick, sludgy,and congealed, a condition called biliary stasis.  Over long periods of time the thickened bile can crystallize into actual gallstones.  This is particularly true if the bile is supersaturated with cholesterol.  Refined carbohydrates have been shown to increase the cholesterol saturation of the bile.  Refined carbohydrates also deplete magnesium rapidly from the body, and magnesium deficiency is another factor that has been linked to gallstone formation.

Blair lists some ways to prevent gallbladder disease:

1.  Avoid refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar.  (An overload of these can cause the body to pull nutrients from body storage, one of which is, AHA, the B vitamin complex.)

2.  Eat plenty of healthy fats which include saturated fats from pasture-fed animals (butter, ghee, cream, tallow, lard, fatty meats, egg yolks, organ meats, etc.), tropical oils (palm and coconut), monounsaturated fats from extra virgin olive oil and avocados, and small amounts of polyunsaturated fat from nuts, seeds, and fish.  AVOID corn, soy, canola, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, other seed oils, and hydrogenated oils.

3.  Make sure your diet contains plenty of minerals–eat homemade bone broth, dairy products, organ meats, seafoods, and organic vegetables (especially leafy greens)

4.  Include taurine-rich foods as taurine is a major constituent of bile.  Taurine is an amino acid found in animal proteins, including meats, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and brewer’s yeast.

5.  Eat beets.  Beet root and stem are “natural bile thinners.”  Beet greens are high in magnesium–but, I’d add, also high in oxalates, which can cause kidney stones.

6.  Avoid rapid weight loss and very low-calorie diets–as this behavior can increase the risk of gallstones.  Lose only about two pounds a week.

Hang on to your gallbladders!

Feed them with good fats!

Written by louisaenright

December 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm