Your liver is like the maid of your body, cleaning up all the toxins you put into it. The gallbladder is the right hand of the liver. Its main function is to store bile, release bile for digestion, and aids the liver to eliminate toxins.
These days the liver needs all the help it can get. The Standard American Diet (SAD), our environmental pollutants, and our increasing dependence on toxic personal care products have put our liver on serious overtime.
Once upon a time, I wanted to become a general surgeon. You know, that kind of a doctor that removes organs from your body. Then I realized that about 700,000 people in America have their gallbladder removed each year and over 90% of procedures are done as exploratory, meaning, let’s just take it out and see what happens.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for surgery. I have great friends who do a really good job at removing gallbladders. You probably even know someone who’s had it removed as it is a common procedure.
What leads to getting your gallbladder taken out in the first place?
It’s common, but is it necessary?
Just like our garbage disposal (the liver), our gallbladder has important functions within our body. Our gallbladder is a part of our biliary system which is made up of the liver, gallbladder, and associated ducts. This system is needed for the production, storage, and secretion of bile.
Bile is a thick liquid that’s green, brown, or yellow in color. It’s used to help with the digestion of fats and is produced by your liver. Studies show that your liver can produce approximately 27 to 34 fluid ounces of bile each day. During a meal, bile moves from the liver directly to the small intestine. However, when you’re not eating it has to be stored somewhere until it’s needed. This is where the gallbladder comes in.
The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile. It typically holds anywhere between 1 and 2.7 ounces of fluid daily. When you eat something fatty, the gallbladder contracts to release the bile it has stored into the small intestine.
Where is your gallbladder located?
Your gallbladder is located in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen. This is the area on the right side of your abdomen that ranges from the bottom of your sternum (breastbone) to your navel. It can be found under the liver and is approximately the size of a small pear.
What can you do to help prevent gallbladder conditions such as gallstones?
I have previously discussed the importance of focusing on eating more fibers such as chia seeds, ginger, and adding antioxidants drinks like green tea to your daily regimen. Studies show that you should eat anywhere from 25 to 31 grams of fiber each day and we tend to consume half that amount required.
What are the most common gallbladder problems?
Gallstones and cholecystitis are both common health conditions due to toxic overload. Gallstones are hard nuggets of material that can form in your gallbladder. They can be made up of cholesterol or a bile salt called bilirubin and can vary in size. Toxic overload in the liver and gallbladder are the main causes of gallstones.
However, several risk factors include, but are not limited to:
- female are more prone to gallbladder issues
- carrying excess weight
- eating a diet high in bad fats or cholesterol
On the other hand, cholecystitis is a common health condition when your gallbladder becomes inflamed. This is often due to a blockage caused by gallstones. Other factors that can cause cholecystitis include tumors, infections, or issues with blood circulation.
Some of the most common symptoms of cholecystitis include:
- severe pain located in the upper right or center of the abdomen
- pain that spreads or radiates to the right shoulder or back
- a tender abdomen, especially when touched
- nausea or vomiting
If you already have the gallbladder removed, you’ll likely experience diarrhea and loose stools in the weeks, months, or years after surgery. This is due to the more continuous release of bile into your intestines, which triggers abnormal food digestion and absorption.
Common treatments the doctor may consider for controlling your diarrhea after a cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery) include:
- Anti-diarrheal medications, such as loperamide (Imodium A-D)
Medications that impair absorption of bile acids, such as cholestyramine
Both medications work by slowing down the movement of the gut. This decreases the number of bowel movements and makes the stool less watery. However, if anti-diarrhea medications are used for a prolonged time their side effects may include:
- Electrolyte depletion
Research done by Johns Hopkins University indicates that patients with pancreas or gallbladder inflammation, for whatever reason DO NOT have their gallbladders removed. 70% of the patients in the study who declined the surgery were not hospitalized again for pancreatitis or cholecystitis.
Susan Hutfless, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study, says that these findings tell us that there may be a way to avoid gallbladder surgery.
How can you avoid gallbladder surgery if you’re experiencing gallbladder issues?
As with most things, it comes down to the foods you eat. For a healthy gallbladder, I recommend you turn to certain foods that protect and promote a healthy gallbladder and avoid foods that increase the likelihood of problems like inflammation or gallstones.
Turmeric is a powerful spice with a long list of health benefits.
This special herb is known to protect the liver and gallbladder from damage. They encourage the regeneration of liver cells, also increase natural bile production, and aids in keeping the body toxin-free.
However, turmeric has been getting attention recently because of its antioxidant abilities. The antioxidant effect of turmeric appears to be so powerful that it may stop your liver from being damaged by toxins such as drugs, environmental toxic overload, or medical health problems. The daily use of turmeric is good news especially for people who take strong drugs for diabetes or other health conditions that might hurt their liver with long-term use.
Turmeric, sometimes called Indian saffron or the golden spice, is made of the ground roots of the plant. Ground turmeric is also a major ingredient in curry powder. Capsules, teas, powders, and extracts are some of the turmeric products available commercially.
Part of the reason that turmeric is added to curry powder is that it adds an element of deliciousness to food. Turmeric can also play an important role in digesting that food. It can contribute to healthy digestion because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian system of treatment, recommends turmeric for a variety of health conditions. These include chronic pain and inflammation. Western medicine has begun to study turmeric as a pain reliever and a healing agent.
Turmeric is also used as a digestive healing agent. Western studies show turmeric can help with gut inflammation and gut permeability in people with irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and general inflammation.
How do you consume turmeric?
Here are four simple ways to add turmeric to your existing diet:
- Blend it into smoothies by adding 1 teaspoon for a special turmeric taste
- Add 1-2 teaspoons to any soup recipe
- A natural in curries, turmeric brings warm flavors to any curry or stew
- Add a color pop to wild rice dishes by adding ½ teaspoon turmeric to the water when cooking the rice
If you’re able to measure the amount of turmeric, I suggest taking at least 500mg a day.
Add turmeric to your diet consistently for at least a month and you’ll start to notice your mood will improve and if you’re tracking your cholesterol, you should notice a decrease in triglycerides (individual results may vary).
And there you have it!
Another simple way to help cleanse and heal your body naturally by slightly altering your diet.