Guarding Your Gallbladder

Pain Prevention

I know I've been rather absent these last few weeks, but I've been traveling more remotely and the wi-fi connection has been spotty at best. I'm back to the world of wi-fi now and am kicking the blog back into high gear.

Maybe you've heard of the gallbladder- a hollow organ that lies below your liver on the right side? The gallbladder serves to store and concentrate bile before it's released into the small intestine. Just like most other bodily functions, when everything is running smoothly we barely consider what's going on behind the scenes. The intricacies of the bodies mechanics are like a breezy beach day, but any mishap with this pear-shaped organ can pack a powerful, painful punch straight to the gut.  Fortunately, like many other illnesses and diseases, most of the problems associated with the gallbladder can be prevented with some lifestyle changes!    

Breezy beach day in Lima, Peru

Breezy beach day in Lima, Peru

I'm super excited for this post because it was written by my first ever guest blogger Amanda Maclean!  Amanda is a recent college graduate and avid writer. While her primary concentration in college was Psychology, she also focused on English Lit. and Public Health. She draws on her knowledge of these subjects to create online content that addresses human needs in a simple way. In her down time, she enjoys traveling, rock climbing, poetry and hanging out with her puppy.  Read on to learn for some evidence-based advice about preventing pesky gallstones.  Thanks for your contribution, Amanda!

Well-known and Proven Ways to Prevent Gallstones

About 20 million Americans have gallstones according to Medical News Today. Gallstones form
as lumps or tiny stones in the gallbladder where the bile is transported. Specifically, cholesterol
gallstones are the most common type of gallstone formation wherein cholesterol builds up in the
bile, a fluid released by the liver that helps digest fats. Gallstones also develop because of too
much bilirubin or aged red blood cells present in the bile. This type of gallstone formation is
called pigment stones.

Most gallbladder problems arise from a poor diet and that causes other gallbladder diseases like
gallbladder cancer, and cholecystitis or inflammation of the gallbladder. Shifting to the right diet
and maintaining healthy eating habits can prevent gallstones and other diseases in the
gallbladder. A healthy diet and lifestyle will also help to avoid risky procedures like endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which is a technique that combines the use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy to diagnose and treat certain problems of the biliary or pancreatic ducts. 

Here are well-known and proven ways you can prevent gallstones:

Consult a Nutritionist/Health Practitioner
Before making any diet adjustments, seek help from a nutritionist who can determine which
foods will gradually decrease cholesterol levels in the body. They will most likely recommend
low-fat and fiber-rich foods like whole grain cereals, nuts and a variety of green leafy
vegetables. Nutritionists can also help you steer clear of certain foods that can cause an allergic
reaction, or cause other problems for you.

Skip The Oil and Grilled Meat
Fried or grilled foods like barbecue, steaks and buttered chicken are high in cholesterol which
builds up in the bile resulting to gallstones that block bile ducts and cause pain in the right side
of the abdomen. It is also a good idea to skip fast food and stick to a daily intake of fresh and
well-prepared fruits and vegetables.

Cut Down on Dairy and Caffeine
Caffeinated drinks like energy drinks, coffee and soft drinks may contain high calories which increase cholesterol levels. Dairy foods like cheese and milk and processed goods like canned meat contain fats and sodium which can contribute to gallstone formation.

Ditch the Weight Loss Strategies
People who are overweight are at risk of gallstones but the right strategy needs to be
considered. Taking weight loss pills or fitness drinks or following crash diets are not the safest
solution to weight loss. These habits will just maximize the risk of gallstones in the body
because the liver is forced to produce cholesterol when the body is purposely starved. Only
natural methods of weight loss like exercising and eating a balanced plant-based diet will help in weight loss and preventing gallstones in the body.

Determine Medications That Increase Cholesterol Levels
Medications like anabolic steroids, progestin, estrogen, beta blockers, cyclosporine, diuretics
and protease inhibitors highly affect your cholesterol levels. It’s best to consult a doctor to know
which types of medications need to be avoided. 

Bottom line: People of different stages in life have varied diet advice for preventing gallstones. Healthy eating habits take time to adapt, but with consistency, discipline and help from a nutritionist or health coach, it can later evolve into a rewarding lifestyle.