Having problems with your gallbladder? Did your doctor mention you have to remove your gallbladder? You need to know the biological function of your gallbladder and why it is important.
Nature did not make a mistake by giving you an extra organ. Knowing what the gallbladder does and how to keep it healthy will help you make informed decisions.
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To answer this question, you first need to know what the gallbladder is, and what it does in your body.
Once you know its function, you will understand what you will affect in your body if you don’t have a gallbladder and the importance of keeping a healthy gallbladder.
By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of what the gallbladder is, its function, what diet you should follow, and a clearer criterion as to whether or not your gallbladder is important.
Let’s dive right in.
- What is the Gallbladder and What Does it Do?
- What are the Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems?
- What Causes Gallstones?
- The Gallbladder Diet
- Gallbladder Surgery
- What to Eat if You Don’t have a Gallbladder?
- Final Thoughts
What is the Gallbladder and What Does it Do?
The gallbladder is a sack that holds the bile produced by the liver to increase bile concentration before release into the small intestine. Bile concentration is increased by about 20x.
Bile is a substance produced by the liver that helps with the digestion of fats. Your liver produces approximately between 27 to 34 oz of bile every day.
Bile is made out of cholesterol and it takes about 500 mgs of cholesterol to make bile.
Bile is the detergent that dissolves cholesterol. Bile emulsifies or dissolves ingested fats to extract important nutrients like the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3, E, K1, and K2.
When you eat fat, the body signals the gallbladder contract to release bile into the small intestine at the right time during the digestion process. Another trigger is a strong stomach acid with a pH of 1 to 3. That’s very acidic and your stomach is designed to handle it.
With the bile from gallbladder and another enzyme coming from the pancreas like lipase, digestion breaks down ingested fats (large particles of fats) into very small particles of fat called fatty acids.
Your body uses these fatty acids for daily maintenance such as building tissue, cell membranes, brain cells, nerves, hormones (i.e. sex hormones, cortisol), etc.
In other words, fatty acids are used as raw material to build and repair body tissue.
At the same time, bile helps in the conversion of about 80% of the thyroid hormone T4 into T3, the active form.
Bile also acts as a lubricant to your colon.
Another function of your bile is to flush out toxins. Your liver detoxifies your blood and toxins are excreted through the bile.
What Are the Symptoms of Gallbladder Problems?
Here are a few symptoms related to a dysfunctional gallbladder.
Bile acts as a lubricant, and therefore, not enough bile can cause constipation. Adding bile to your fiber intake to improve your bowl movements is a good idea.
If your stools float, it could be due to fat concentration in them. Remember that fat floats.
Bloating. Burping. Belching.
Right shoulder pain. When the gallbladder swells, it presses on the Phrenic nerve right above it and can trigger pain up on areas on the right upper side of your body (shoulder, neck, face, head).
Headaches could be tied to a gallbladder problem since a swollen gallbladder could press on a nerve that goes up to your shoulder and neck. If you have a headache and you press or massage the area where the gallbladder is, your headache may subside.
Pain, or maybe cramping, under the right rib cage, which is where the gallbladder is located. This pain could be worst after eating fatty foods.
Not satiated after meals. Eating high amounts of fat during meals can be very satiating; however, if your gallbladder isn’t working correctly, you will have problems digesting fats preventing you from absorbing important nutrients. If you can’t get the nutrients that you need from food, you won’t feel satisfied and will always look to eat more in an attempt to find what your body is missing. Normally, you’ll crave fried foods or eat a little bit of sweet after you eat.
You could present normal thyroid hormones and show symptoms of a low thyroid function.
As mentioned before, about 80% of the thyroid hormone activation occurs in the liver. An apparent low thyroid function could be caused by not enough bile since T4 (inactive form of the thyroid hormone) is converted into T3 (the active form) through the liver.
Now, because you’re not able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, you could present a symptomology related to deficiencies in vitamin A, D, E, and K.
- A vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness, dry skin and eyes, sinus problems, and acne (Accutane is basically concentrated synthetic vitamin A).
- A deficiency in vitamin D could cause depression in the winter (winter blues) and bone health problems because vitamin D assists in the absorption of calcium into the blood.
- Low vitamin E levels can cause retina degeneration and pituitary problems.
- A vitamin K1 deficiency can result in bruising.
- A vitamin K2 deficiency can cause bone problems because vitamin K2 helps transport calcium where it’s needed in the body. Vitamin K2 helps keep calcium out of the soft tissues, so calcium accumulations can occur in arthritis, hardening of the arteries shown as high blood pressure, strokes since there’s calcium plaquing in the brain, cataracts on your eyes as calcium in your eyes, kidney stones, bone spurs, etc.
Another telltale sign is if you feel more comfortable sleeping on the right side of your body, where the liver and gallbladder are, than the left side, chances are that the swollen gallbladder and liver are pressing on the heart making it harder to breath.
It is very common to produce not enough bile causing gallstones. A constant movement of bile inhibits the production of gallstones, which are concentrated cholesterol stones. The question is WHY do gallstones form?
Let’s take a look at this in the next section.
What Causes Gallstones?
Gallstones are concentrated cholesterol. These gallstones can impede the release of bile from the gallbladder into the small intestine.
Gallstones are not formed because you eat too much cholesterol. Remember that your body makes about 75% of the cholesterol in your body. That is the same amount of cholesterol found in about 15 eggs. The other 25% comes from diet.
Gallstones are formed because not enough bile is released causing the concentrated bile stored in the gallbladder to thicken or crystalize into cholesterol stones.
One of the triggers to release bile is saturated fats, so a low-fat diet would dry up your gallbladder’s bile reserve and develop gallstones. You need to keep bile moving.
High levels of insulin, the hormone secreted by the pancreas to lower sugar levels in the blood, suppresses the production of bile. What causes high insulin? A diet based on refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, soda, cookies, anything made with flour, etc.
In your body, about 90-95% of your bile is recycled, and high cortisol, a stress hormone, can interfere with that recycling process therefore lowering the amount of bile for digestion.
Another reason why bile can’t be recycled could be the lack of gut bacteria (microbiome) since the microbes in the gut help recycle bile.
High estrogen can constrict the bile duct and cause problems with the release of bile. High estrogen can because by birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, becoming pregnant, ovulation, having a fibroid, and others.
Low-fat diets. If you don’t eat saturated fats, the gallbladder doesn’t release the concentrated bile and sits idle for a long time causing a gallbladder sludge.
Soy protein isolates.
What is a Gallbladder Attack?
A gallbladder attack, or biliary colic, is a pain in the gallbladder area due to a gallstone stuck in the bile duct.
You feel pain under the right rib cage area, nauseous, and pain in the right shoulder.
How to Stop Gallbladder Pain?
To stop gallbladder pain, follow the instructions in this 4-minute video.
Remember that pain is your body’s signal that something is wrong and/or to stop using that body part. Ideally, you don’t want pain at all. It’s much better to eliminate what’s hurting you and start eating what will make you healthier and stronger.
Your diet is key to a healthy gallbladder.
The Gallbladder Diet
The body is designed to fix itself and it has a self-healing mechanism that is ignored most of the time. Don’t let your gallbladder problem get to a point that you need surgery.
To restore your gallbladder’s health, you need to support the structure and function of your gallbladder, please follow the following recommendations and changes in your diet:
- You want to eliminate refined carbohydrates. A Ketogenic Diet with Intermittent Fasting would be ideal.
- You also want to avoid extra and inflammatory fats in the form of hydrogenated oils, cottonseed oils, safflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and corn oil. These oils are in many fast and junk foods. Read the labels.
- Supplementation with Dr. Eric Berg’s Gallbladder Formula. This supplement provides Purified Bile Salts that help increase the amount of bile in your system. Remember that bile is recycled. Take one before a meal. Throughout time you’ll notice that you won’t be so bloated, and your digestion gets better.
- Eat Cruciferous Foods (supplement and/or real food) to help loosen up any sludge in the gallbladder.
- Take vitamin supplements of fat-soluble vitamins such as:
- Take DHA.
The Gallbladder Formula also has stone root, which is an herb that helps dissolve gallstones.
Refined carbohydrates are normally made of wheat flour. Wheat has a lectin called Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) that causes blood clotting or agglutination. This WGA has the undesired ability to block the production of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), the hormone that causes your gallbladder to squeeze and release bile.
In other words, the Wheat Germ Agglutinin in wheat inhibits the release of bile resulting in bile stagnated in the gallbladder. Isn’t that interesting?
There’s bacteria in your colon. A diet rich in sugar and carbohydrates could cause the bacteria in your colon to ascend into the small intestine for food and reach the gallbladder.
Now, an infection of your gallbladder caused by too much of your bad bacteria or yeast in your intestines can become into a bad case of gallstones.
You don’t want this. You want to avoid surgery. Don’t let your diet and lifestyle get to this point.
Recommended Gallbladder Supplement
Dr. Eric Berg’s Gallbladder Formula successfully targets three important parts of your digestion. It includes:
- Purified Bile salts to support healthy fat digestion.
- Stomach acidifiers (betaine hydrochloride) to support healthy protein digestion.
- Pancreatic enzymes to support digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- Stone root, an herb that support growth of gallstones.
- Slippery Elm bark and Spanish Black Radish to thin the bile and lubricate the bile ducts.
30 day (1 month) supply.
The most common procedure to remove the gallbladder is laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
A biliary colic happens when stone gets stuck in the bile duct causing intense pain. Pain subsides after the stone is released.
When the root cause of gallstones is not treated or fixed, your gallbladder’s health gets worse and could lead to acute cholecystitis (gallbladder infection), gangrenous cholecystitis (perforation of gallbladder wall), gallstone pancreatitis (gallstone blocks your pancreatic duct), and others.
In the presence of these conditions, medical doctors recommend having your gallbladder removed.
However, in my opinion, having gallbladder surgery only eliminates the symptoms: gallstones and a swollen gallbladder. If the root cause why gallstones were formed is never addressed, something else in your body will break.
What to Eat If You Don’t Have a Gallbladder?
If you had gallbladder surgery, the first thing you need to do, as mentioned before, is to figure why your gallbladder broke to the point you got it removed. The gallbladder doesn’t break because it just does. There are reasons behind it.
Your gallbladder issue was a symptom of something else deeper that needs to be uncovered.
For instance, the formation of gallstones could be due to high levels of estrogen (contraceptive or birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapies, and others), high levels of insulin from the constant intake of refined carbohydrates (pasta, break, donuts, sodas, apple juice, junk food, etc.), side effects from medications, and others.
You need to change what you were doing wrong that caused your gallbladder to malfunction. Otherwise, since the root cause was never fixed, something else will break in the future.
After you get your gallbladder removed, you lose the ability to store bile and release concentrated bile during digestion affecting the efficient breakdown of fat and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K.
At the same time, because low bile makes it harder for you to digest omega 3s, you could present deficiencies in omega 3 fatty acids.
Also, because bile acts a lubricant, you could present constipation.
For all these reasons, it is recommended to take Purified Bile Salts before meals.
In some cases, however, if you don’t have a gallbladder, your liver may constantly leak bile into the small intestine when you’re not eating causing diarrhea. Remember that bile also acts as a lubricant for the colon. Supplementing with bile salts would not be recommended in these cases.
When you get your gallbladder removed, you should:
- Still eat a moderate amount of saturated fats because fats trigger the release of bile.
- Eat moderate amounts of proteins.
- Reduce the intake of refined carbohydrates to avoids spikes in insulin.
- Drink apple cider vinegar.
- Eat fermented vegetables and/or take a probiotic supplement to promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
- Consume cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc., for their nutritional content and fiber, which feeds your gut bacteria.
The gallbladder is NOT an extra organ. The gallbladder has a function in your body and therefore is needed for proper health.
Yes, you can live without it just like you can live without an eye, a kidney, your tonsils, limbs, etc. If you lose an eye, you lose your depth perception. If you lose a kidney, your blood filtering function is compromised. If you get your tonsils removed, you’re affecting a part of your immune system. If you lose your arms and legs, you lose your mobility.
All these parts have a function and are all needed. It’s the same with your gallbladder.
You need your gallbladder.
Take care of it by supporting its structure and function.
If you have problems with your gallbladder, you need to figure out the source of the problem. If you take you gallbladder out, you’re not really addressing the root problem. The problem is still there and can cause issues in other parts of your body.
I hope this post was informative!
What’s your experience with gallbladder issues?
Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for sticking around!