Did You Know That Gallbladder Disease Often Causes No Symptoms?
It often surprises people to learn that only about 20% of those who have gallstones experience pain or other gallbladder symptoms related to them. Gallstones can form out of cholesterol, salt or bilirubin deposits and range in size from grains of sand to golf balls. They sit in the gallbladder and may go unnoticed for years while the gallbladder continues to store and secrete bile. The severe pain associated with a gallbladder attack often comes when a stone moves and becomes lodged in a bile duct.
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that stores the greenish yellow fluid created by the liver and releases it in carefully concentrated amounts to digest fat in the food we eat. Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K are not able to be effectively absorbed without the right amount of bile, so a cascade of symptoms can slowly surface if prolonged gallbladder problems cause nutritional deficiencies and indigestion.
Many people think of severe pain as the first clear indication that they need gallstone treatment, and for some it may be, but more often there are subtle gallbladder symptoms you can watch out for before severe pain occurs. For instance, if you notice that you have digestive problems like gas, bloating, nausea or diarrhea after eating meals that are high in fat, this may be an indicator that your gallbladder is stressed.
Certain risk factors are important to know so that you can take great care of your gallbladder health before you develop gallbladder symptoms. Women and particularly those over 40 are at an elevated risk and hormonal shifts such as those during pregnancy and menopause can lead to gallstone formation.
Another major risk factor is obesity, and this is one we can take action on. Be sure when planning to lose weight that you avoid crash dieting and starvation diets. Rapid weight loss and calorie restriction can often lead to gallstone formation as it imbalances the cholesterol content in the bile and regulation of bile release. Healthy, slow weight loss of roughly 2 pounds per week is typically safe.
Even if you have no symptoms of gallbladder dysfunction, excellent digestion is key to maintaining great health and function for many body systems. Therefore, why not aim to take great care of your liver and gallbladder before you notice problems? There are foods such as bitter, leafy greens, beets and artichokes which help the liver and gallbladder to function optimally.
Certain herbs such as milk thistle have been used to cleanse the liver and therefore benefit the gallbladder. Lemons and apple cider vinegar are said to increase bile flow which helps flush out stones and keep away biliary sludge.
Drink plenty of water and avoid the saturated, hydrogenated bad fats that increase cholesterol and body fat. Instead, opt for olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and whole dairy in small amounts. Try to stay away from fried and processed food like cookies, donuts and other desserts or fast food.