Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Your friendly gallbladder...

I often sit and wonder what 'brilliant' doctor first decided that taking your gallbladder out is no big deal. A cursory review of any human anatomy or physiology textbook will quickly prove to you that there is really no organ in the body that is not there for a reason. Certainly there are many that can be removed without causing death, but are there any that can be removed without causing a reduction in your ability to achieve or maintain optimal health?

I think not.

Nonetheless, of the adult population of patients I see, I would guess that approximately 30-50% of them have had their gallbladders removed. Few of these cases involved a true emergency situation. Instead most of them were removed simply because the patient was feeling some pain and discomfort, and the doctors in charge knew not what to do about it. This is not grounds for organ removal in my book.

I also find it interesting that the very diet people suffering from gallbladder pain are told to go on (low fat, high carb) is the very same sort of diet (minus a few veggies) that probably started the problem in the first place. Think about it, most of people these days have been hypnotized into believing beyond all reasonable doubt, that low fat diets are the healthiest, so, in an effort to look good and stay healthy, most people eat that way.

What food causes the gallbladder to contract? That's right, FAT. How on earth can we encourage proper and regular gallbladder function without eating a decent amount of fat?? Of course people whose gallbladders are simply too far gone, full of stones and really hurting, do usually have to reduce fat in their diets, because any stimulation of the gallbladder for them causes pain. The point is though, that if they ate a higher fat, lower carb diet in the first place, they probably wouldn't be dealing with this problem at all!

Anyways, I could go on and on. The main point of this post was really to review a study regarding magnesium and gallbladder function, which I will get to now...

A recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology followed more than 42,000 men between ages 40 and 75 for 16 years. The men filled out health questionnaires every two years and diet questionnaires every four years. Those with the highest magnesium intake—more than 409 mg per day from food and supplements—were 28% less likely to develop gallstones than those whose intake was the lowest, at less than 288 mg per day.

Our best natural sources of magnesium are dark green veggies. If you combine this sort of food with good types of fat such as organic butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts, along with some good protein sources like free range eggs (with the yolks), grass fed beef and wild caught fish, and a little bit of fruit, you have the perfect diet for preventing gallstones. In fact, my experience has been that this diet is great for treating all kinds of modern day, chronic health problems.

And, wouldn't you know it, if you examine the research out on ancient people and the healthy diets they ate (see links to the right) this sort of diet is about as close as you can come to recreating it. In other words, this is the diet that is NATURAL for us.

Happy munching....


farmerK said...

What are the long term effects for someone who already has their gallbladder removed? What about absorption of certain vitamins or minerals? And why do I get sick from eating high fat foods ever since my gallbladder was removed? Thanks.

richmomma said...

So what is your opinion on gallbladder polyps? Do you think the cancer risk warrants having the gallbladder removed??

Dr. Daniel Chong said...

Hello farmerk,
Long term effects vary from person to person, but can certainly include poor absorption of nutrients, especially fat soluble ones like vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as essential fats.

You can minimize this by taking very good care of your liver and consuming foods and/or herbs that gently stimulate bile formation and flow, like bitter greens and apple cider vinegar.

You can also take a bile acid supplement with fat containing meals to mimic the natural process of bile secretion during a meal as much as possible.

You don't feel well after eating high fat foods because you are not secreting bile quickly enough anymore to digest those fats. Again, the solution wouldn't be to eat only low fat meals, but to support yourself with a bile acid supplement. It would at least be worth a try.

Dr. Daniel Chong said...

Hello richmomma,
Gallbladder polyps, like most other types of polyps are usually a sign of tissue irritation. In the case of the gallbladder, this could be coming from sludgy bile acid moving through the gallbladder more slowly. I couldn't say this for sure, but it's worth investigating.

If it were me, I would certainly try cleaning up my liver, encouraging healthy bile flow (eating bitter greens, and drinking water with apple cider vinegar before meals) and eating a gallbladder supportive diet (zero processed foods, low carb, high good fat, lots of veggies and fruit and a little meat/fish) before taking anything out. I can't tell you what to do, but that's what I would do.

Miss Spaghetti said...


I've been following the GAPS diet for the past year and have healed myself of IBS and severe digestive issues. However, I've just found out I have gallstones. My doctor of course blamed the diet I'm on, advised me to have gallbladder removed and go onto a no fat diet. I don't want to do either and I'm thinking of just reducing the fat intake for now, supplementing with ox bile, increasing green juicing and doing a liver flush with olive oil, epsom salts and grapefruit juice. Does this sound like the right thing to do? It's embarrassing as my whole family think I'm crazy to stick to gaps diet but I feel so much better for it - apart from gallstones which wake me up ever night - the pain is not great but it really disrupts my sleep. Thanks

Yanguo Brenda said...

I have gallbladder polyp and also stomach polyps can I drink apple cider vinagar with water, will it hurt my stomach lining, thank you.