The gallbladder is considered by many medical professionals to be a useless organ. As a result, upwards of around a million gallbladders are removed every year in the US when they start making their owners miserable.
It is doubtful that anyone would want to live with the symptoms of gallbladder disease for very long:
- Moderate to severe pain under the right rib cage.
- Pain that radiates to the back or right shoulder
- Severe stomach pain
- Pain upon inhalation.
- Light or chalky stools
- Diarrhea or “loose” stools
- Headaches over the eyes
*It is important to note, however, that gallbladder disease and/or the presence of gallstones can also be completely absent of symptoms of any kind.
The gallbladder is not useless. In fact, it has a very specific function, and removing it can cause a variety of nagging problems.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience the following after gallbladder removal:
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic diarrhea
- Food sensitivities
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Stomach and intestinal pain
- Nausea and vomiting after eating
These occur because the body can no longer digest fats properly.
Why You Need Your Gallbladder
Your digestive system needs bile to aid in the break-down of fats. Not having enough bile to emulsify fats is like trying to wash greasy dishes without soap. It’s virtually impossible.
It is nutritional ignorance that proliferates the idea that removing the gallbladder is harmless, however.
Bile is produced by the liver and then delivered to the digestive tract, but a good quantity is also stored in the gallbladder for later use. One important function of the gallbladder is to REGULATE bile secretion (not just store it) so the small intestine has the proper amounts of bile when needed.
If the gallbladder is removed, the liver can still provide some bile to the small intestine, which is why physicians tell patients that the gallbladder isn’t a necessary organ.
However, once the gallbladder is absent, the body has trouble digesting fats because there will often be too much or not enough bile present in the small intestine at any given time.
Without the gallbladder, the liver will be continuously transporting bile to the digestive tract, but in smaller quantities and without proper regulation. The constant presence of bile will eventually result in increased risks of other issues over time, namely pancreatitis and colon cancer.
If You Still Have Your Gallbladder
You might be surprised to learn that enough scientific evidence exists to affirm that exercise is the most effective method for preventing gallbladder problems. It is not sufficient, though, to simply take a leisurely walk around the block.
The human body was designed for rigorous activity, so exercise routines like bodyweight calisthenics, plyometrics, high intensity interval training, and those like them, are best. You want to move and challenge your entire body, not just swing your arms and legs back and forth.
I’m also convinced that people with gallbladder problems have some degree of Celiac Disease (1). When the small intestine is damaged, the chemical signal that tells the gallbladder to release bile can be hindered, causing bile to back up into the gallbladder and cause gallstones.
The key here is to fix the gut by eliminating grains (2), legumes, dairy, processed food, fried food (3), and artificial sugar from the diet and eating lots of raw, whole fruits and vegetables (4)(5)(6), as well as moderate amounts of raw, unprocessed nuts (7). A quality probiotic is also necessary to help in digestion and to replenish proper ratios of intestinal bacteria.
If Your Gallbladder Has Been Removed
Gallbladder surgery is simply a Band-Aid. It does not address the real problem any more than replacing a worn tire on your car corrects a misaligned front-end.
Nutrition is always the best place to start when addressing digestive issues because an improper diet is the most common reason GI problems begin.
Anyone who has had their gallbladder removed needs to supplement with the right fat-digesting enzymes to do the job that bile can no longer do. This will often eliminate the horrible symptoms that can occur after surgery.
It is baffling that so many people undergo gallbladder surgery every year and NO ONE tells them about requiring these supplements for proper fat digestion. Patients just continue living with a loss of appetite, severe nausea, vomiting after meals, and bowel problems, while physicians remain mystified as to the cause of their misery.
Even if your gallbladder has been removed, you still need to eat healthy fats like avocados, pastured butter, wild fatty fish, coconut oil, olives, etc. We are all genetically designed to consume healthy fats and wellness is not possible without them.
Other Helpful Tips
Whether or not your gallbladder has been removed, the following tips can help strengthen liver health and promote optimal bile flow:
- Stay Hydrated – Dehydration causes bile to thicken and move more slowly.
- Use Lemon – Squeeze fresh lemon into water and onto salads and meats. It will improve stomach acid and bile activity.
- Eat Bile-Healthy Foods – These include beets, radishes, artichokes, asparagus, celery, lemon, lime, grapefruit, cucumbers, and carrots.
- Use Bitter Herbs – They stimulate digestive juices and boost bile flow: ginger, arugula, endive, cilantro, turmeric, dandelion, cumin, fennel, mint, milk thistle, yarrow, leeks, and parsley.
- Eat Fermented Veggies – They’re rich in enzymes and help restore bacterial balance in the gut: sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, pickled ginger, etc.
- Eat Small Meals – Big meals will cause major digestive stress.
- Eat Dark-Green Veggies – They purify the blood and improve bile flow.
- Eat Fiber – Soluble fiber like chia, flax, hemp, and pumpkin seeds escorts old bile out of the body. Insoluble fiber is found in fruits and vegetables and sweeps waste and toxins out through the colon.
- Minimize Stress – Stress depresses the digestive system and makes proper breakdown of food more difficult.
- Take Magnesium – Magnesium is a natural relaxant and can reduce contractile activity in the bile ducts.