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Do I need a gallbladder? This is a really good question.
The quick answer is yes. You need it and your life will be forever altered without it. Gallbladders are a key player if the breakdown of fat in our diet. They get mucked up with sludgy bile when we consume a high carbohydrate low fat diet and when we consume the wrong kind of fats.
We have been sold a lie for years and years telling us that fat is bad for us. Fat will cause heard disease and obesity. The truth is almost the opposite of what we have been told and sold on for so many years. I have written about fat before and why it is good for us. You can find that information here.
I am writing specifically about gallbladders today because I have so many clients without them who didn’t know they needed support once it was removed. There are over 600,000 surgeries every year to remove gallbladders. Some of those removals are necessary but a far greater number of them are not. Your gallbladder can be saved. The trick here is that saving your gallbladder takes time and work on your part. It won’t happen over night and it will be a bit uncomfortable for you for awhile as you clean out the sludge in the gallbladder and your body begins to replace sludgy bile with clean and healthy bile to be stored.
How does this even work?
The liver, a real workhorse for our body, produces bile which gets stored in the gallbladder until food enters the small intestines. The gallbladder then releases bile to aid in the digestion or emulsification of fats. When the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to produce bile and it just drips in to the small intestine. This means you won’t have enough bile to break down your dietary fat which leads to fats going undigested and leaving the body often as diarrhea.
Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy can be avoided with good nutrition and lifestyle. Diet is key here when you are trying to maintain a healthy gallbladder or even save it.
Symptoms of a gallbladder attack or need to support your gallbladder with diet changes are:
- pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right
- pain between the shoulder blades
- light or chalky colored stools
- fatty or greasy looking stools
- stomach upset by greasy foods
- nausea, motion sickness
- dry skin, itchy feet
- headache over the eye
- bitter taste in mouth after a meal
Symptoms that can be experienced when you don’t have a gallbladder are:
- diarrhea, usually after a meal
- pain between the shoulder blades
- bloating and indigestion
If you have had your gallbladder removed it is likely you have been told to maintain a low fat diet for life. A low fat diet will deprive your body of necessary nutrients. Every cell in our bodies are made of a layer of fat. We need it for good cellular function and we are really just a bunch of cells put together that make up tissues, organs, systems and humans. If those cells are not healthy, then we are not healthy. No fat digestion means no ability to use vitamins A, D, E and K even if we supplement. Most importantly is that you will need to supplement with ox bile for the rest of your life.
If you still have a gallbladder but are struggling with the above listed symptoms, you can save it. Sludge in your gallbladder does NOT mean you have to remove it. If you are willing to put in the work to save it, you probably can. It takes time and you will feel uncomfortable and experience some pain as the sludge gets cleaned out. It won’t happen overnight.
This is what you can start to do to ensure you can clean out your gallbladder:
- Increase the healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, flax oil, fish oils and coconut oil
- Eat a high fiber diet
- Consume lots and lots of vegetables. Half your plate at dinner should be veggies
- Eat at least one serving (2 cups) of raw, grated beets covered with the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of raw, unprocessed flax seed oil or olive oil
- Avoid dairy products except butter
- Avoid wheat/gluten
- Avoid fried foods, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
- Avoid refined carbohydrates
- Rule out any potential food allergies or sensitivities
There are also several supplements you can take to support your liver and gallbladder. Part of what I do as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is have you take an extensive questionnaire that will pinpoint if gallbladder or liver issues are something you need to be looking at.
Have you ever had a gallbladder attack? How did you deal with it? Leave me a comment below and let's start a conversation.