People tend to ignore their gallbladder unless debilitated by gallstones and needing surgery. But did you know your gallbladder could be causing your chronic gut problems and inflammation, even if you don’t have gallbladder symptoms?
As it turns out, gallbladder problems are one of the most common causes of chronic gut issues that don’t seem to respond to treatment.
The gallbladder holds bile secreted by the liver to secrete whenever you eat fat. Bile emulsifies fat so that it doesn’t damage your intestinal walls and so that you can absorb important fat-soluble vitamins.
You can have gallbladder problems without having gallstones. Instead, you can have biliary stasis, which is caused by bile that has become too thick and therefore doesn’t secrete well to digest dietary fat.
Gallstones are easy to diagnose. Symptoms include:
- Severe, sudden pain in the upper right abdomen and possibly the upper back.
- Fever and shivering.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Clay-colored stools or dark urine.
Gallstone surgery is one of the most common surgeries today.
However, biliary stasis is completely overlooked by the standard health care system, although in some cases an ultrasound may show gallstones that haven’t obstructed the gallbladder.
Symptoms of biliary stasis include:
- Bloating after meals.
- Burping after meals.
- Fish oil burps from fish oil capsules.
- Fatty foods make you feel worse.
- Floating stools.
- Chronic constipation.
Biliary stasis is most common in women who are overweight, over 40, and who have had children. This is due to the hormonal effects on the gallbladder.
It’s important to address biliary stasis because you need to secrete bile to digest fats. Not digesting fats can lead to a number of imbalances:
- Poor sphincter function in the digestive tract, which sets the stage for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO causes myriad symptoms, including chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, or both. Bloating is also common with SIBO.
- Impaired liver detoxification pathways. As a result, the liver cannot effectively detoxify hormones, toxins, and other metabolites. This increases the toxic burden on your system, which in turn increases inflammation.
- Avoidance of consuming healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, or fish oil capsules. Avoiding healthy fats increases health risks, especially for the brain and the hormones, as well as raising the risk of deficiency of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
If you have been doing all the right gut health protocols but still are not improving, you may need to address your gallbladder health.
How to improve your gallbladder
The good news is it’s easy to improve gallbladder health. Nutritional compounds that support gallbladder health, fat digestion, and liver detoxification, include dandelion root, milk thistle seed extract, ginger root, phosphatidylcholine, and taurine.
If your gallbladder has already been removed, you can improve digestion by taking ox bile with your meals that contain fat.
Good gallbladder health requires the following:
- 25–38 grams of fiber a day (more for men, less for women).
- No processed and excess starchy carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, potatoes, pasta, etc.).
- No trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and processed vegetable oils.
- Plenty of essential fatty acids and omega 3s.
- No foods to which you have an immune response, gluten and dairy being the most common.
- Manage low thyroid function or autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Ask my office for more advice on how to support your gallbladder.