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How the gallbladder effects metabolism.

Have you ever considered your gallbladder as a necessary part of weight loss?

I didn’t! But after reading “Radical Metabolism, A Powerful Plan to Blast Fat and Reignite Your Energy in Just 21 Days” by Ann Louise Gittelman, PHhD, CNS, it all began to make sense!

Even more important, if you are on a high fat diet, the gallbladder is crucial for the digestion of these fats and if it is not working properly, this could set you up for some trouble.

Let me first start by explaining a little about the function of the gallbladder and how it helps with metabolism.

The gallbladder stores bile made from the liver. This bile is key to break down the fats you eat. Healthy fat, previously discussed in my last blog post, is needed for cell membrane health. Think of a cell membrane as the outer layer of your skin – without proper nutrition it loses its resilience and leads to all kinds of problems (Gittelman).

Bile also carries away much of the toxic stuff we put into our bodies and the end products of hormone metabolism. What happens when we cannot process fats, is that the body has trouble absorbing important fat soluble vitamins. Think of vitamins A, D, E and K into the blood supply.

You need to have a healthy gallbladder to help absorb some vitamins!

The gallbladder and the liver work together to keep the blood clean and cells performing well. Things that are hard on the liver are:

  • some prescription medicines
  • too much alcohol or caffeine
  • emotional stress
  • refined sugars
  • unhealthy fats
  • too little dietary fiber intake
  • refined grains.

Liver Disease

Hand in hand with the gallbladder is the liver and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is one of the most prevalent diseases today! The liver when damaged stops processing fat, and starts to store the fat instead.

Rates of NAFLD have doubled since 1988 and is linked to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and lipid imbalance (Gittelman). Cellulite, weight gain, and increased visceral fat are all signs that the liver may be suffering.

So, in order to lose body fat – these systems need to be restored!

So why is this important?

The fats that we eat are necessary for the building and metabolism of hormones in your body. In fact, undigested fats and oils can reduce the absorption of other nutrients like vitamins A, D,E and K. When they are not broken down properly and used normally they get stored as fat.

Without good absorption of these nutrients, we can experience impaired vision, depression, dry skin and eyes, bone loss and improper blood clotting.

Thyroid problems?

A sluggish gallbladder that does not process fats properly? Without fat absorption, you cannot make thyroid hormone! This can lead to leptin resistance (will talk about indigestion blog), constipation, weight gain, fatigue and more….

Some common symptoms that a gallbladder has issues are gas and bloating after eating, and stomach pain.

Many doctors will not attempt to fix this problem, but wait until the issue worsens and so severe the gallbladder is removed.

While you can survive without a gallbladder, you are missing a critical link in digestion and help without it.

So, what leads to gallbladder problems?

First, eating poorly is just one of the ways to develop gallbladder problems. Years of low/non-fat diets and increased toxic exposure has silently damaged the ability of the gallbladder to work properly. Think back some time and see if your diet was silently working against your gallbladder.

The standard diet here in America is seriously lacking in nutritional value. That along with the level of toxic exposure people face in day to day life, can lead to damage to the gallbladder. This causes thick, toxic bile and the associated increases in blood sugar levels.

What else?

Start by minimizing or eliminating the foods that are hard on the liver. For example processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, emotional stress, medicines, and refined sugar and grains tax the liver!

While gallstones are one symptom of problems with the gallbladder, other symptoms are hypothyroidism, constipation, nausea, pain, headache over the eyes, GERD, gas, bloating, light colored stool that float, dry skin, inability to lose weight, mood changes, becoming easily intoxicated and fibromyalgia.

People with gallbladder issues are often advised by their doctors to fix the problem with lowering the fat in your diet to alleviate symptoms. The problem is, however, that this does not solve the underlying problem.

Trans Fats and saturated fats have been linked to the creation of gallstones which increases the incidence of gallbladder removal.

A fat free diet is not a good alternative, as cholesterol is a necessary component of the body.

What is needed, is a way for the body to emulsify and break down fats, especially when the gallbladder has been removed. One way to combat this problem is by supplementing with natural bile salts. This has been recommended for bile stasis and gallbladder relief.

Also, people who eat vegetables and get their daily protein overall have less gallbladder issues.

Eat your veggies!! Plant foods are KEY to helping the liver detox.

So, what CAN be done to help fix the root cause of gallbladder issues?

Include these in your daily diet:

First, bitters are a great place to start. These foods, many plant based, have a way of getting the bile juices flowing.

Some examples are:

  • Asparagus
  • Arugula
  • Grapefruit
  • Cauliflower
  • Romaine
  • Radicchio
  • Cucumbers
  • Orange peel
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Artichokes

Also, herbs and spices that can help are: Basil, Dill, Parsley, Ginger, Thyme, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Turmeric, Coriander and more.

Other bitter foods that can help with fat digestion are: Coffee, Cacao, Vinegar, Sesame, Seaweed.

The #1 nutrient for better bile

Choline! Makes fats emulsified, helping with lipid transport, keeps homocysteine levels low. Interestingly enough, 90% of women over 40 are choline deficient.

Best ways to get this nutrient: Beef, almonds, cauliflower, navy beans, amaranth.

There is a link between allergies to pork, onions, and eggs with gallbladder issues.

More bile builders – Beets, Artichokes, Cider vinegar, lemon juice, Vit C

Overeating is the #1 cause of gallbladder attacks!

If you have problems here, you may want to consider Intermittent fasting which takes stress off digestive system, allows it to rest and rejuvenate, and increases the ability of the body to use fat to fuel the body.

When fat is used for fuel this increases ketones in the body. Ketones are actually a more efficient way to create energy than carbs, and this creates fewer free radicals which lead to damage to cells in the body. Furthermore, this will improve glucose metabolism and lower blood glucose levels, reduces inflammation, improve energy lowers blood and facilitate fat loss, especially in the belly.

(based on information in part from “Radical Metabolism, A Powerful Plan to Blast Fat and Reignite Your Energy in Just 21 Days” Ann Louise Gittelman, PhD, CNS.)

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