Over the past decades, gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) has become one of the most common elective abdominal surgeries in the United States. The gallbladder is often ignored until something goes terribly wrong. Could this drama be spared with the right combination of diet, stress reduction, and a health supportive lifestyle? If you are struggling in your relationship with your gallbladder, don’t worry, you are not alone!
What’s so GREAT about the gallbladder anyway? If so many people are living without their gallbladder, do we really need it? You might feel that you’d be better off without a gallbladder if you are experiencing problems with digestion, pain, and inflammation. If you are among those who have been through a “painful breakup” with your gallbladder, yet you continue to experience problems, can you still be helped?
While it is true that our body can adapt to the loss of our gallbladder, it does so by placing a burden on another organ or system. To understand the importance of the gallbladder, we first need to understand the importance of bile. Bile emulsifies fats in our digestive tract. This makes fat available for vital functions like hormone production, brain function and cellular structure. Some common symptoms of poor fat digestion are dry, brittle hair; dry skin and premature aging of the skin; weak nails and painful joints. Essential fatty acids are important for optimal brain health, therefore low mood, anxiety, depression, and impaired cognitive function are all possible manifestations of poor fat digestion. Efficient use of fats assists blood sugar regulation, helping us avoid the blood sugar spikes caused by the digestion of carbs. Deficiencies of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K can lead to problems like impaired vision, cognitive decline, hormone and emotional imbalances, and compromised tissue integrity.
Not only does our gallbladder store bile, it also concentrates it, making it more effective. In the absence of a gallbladder, your liver still produces bile, but with no place to be concentrated, it will be less effective in emulsifying fats. Bile also regulates the pH in the intestines, neutralizing stomach acid as it enters the small intestine.
What we often ignore is the root cause: what has gone wrong in the first place. Why have we seen such an increase in this health issue, and what can be done? Stress is one problem. Persistent stress shuts down our digestive processes via the “fight or flight” instinct. The effects of prolonged stress cascade from the inhibition of stomach enzymes that trigger bile to be released further down the digestive tract, to overconcentration of bile, making it thick and sticky like tar. Diet has a huge impact on gallbladder health. Hydrogenated fats, refined carbs, and other processed foods are contributing factors.
Before you break up: talk to a qualified natural healthcare practitioner who can give you practical nutrition and treatment advice. It is important to remember that there are proven methods to improve your gallbladder health, and keep this important relationship intact.
© 2017 Kristina D. Allred, M.S.O.M., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
M.S. Oriental Medicine
Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
Kristina Allred holds a Master of Science degree in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a Licensed Acupuncturist, and is board certified in acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She has extensive experience in nutrition as well as herbal medicine. Kristina is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Kristina’s background also includes working in organic agriculture and as a chef. Kristina is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements at Vital Health in Coeur d’ Alene. Visit our website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Kristina, join our e-mail list and read other informative articles. Kristina can be reached at 208-765-1994 or firstname.lastname@example.org and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.