In my mid-20’s I had an acquaintance who had her gallbladder removed. I was puzzled that someone my age would have an “old people’s” condition. A mutual friend who was aware of the dietary habits of this person said, “She eats a stick of butter with pizza.” Mind-boggling, right? I was left wondering why anyone would want butter with pizza.
Today, as an “old person”, I know of quite a few people who have suffered gall bladder “attacks” or had gallbladders or gallstones removed. After surgery, some people adopt healthier dietary habits. But is the cause of gallbladder symptoms really eating too much fat as my friend suggested years ago?
To find out what makes the gallbladder tick, I took a close look and “asked what’s up gallbladder?.”
Gallbladder: I sit here behind your liver waiting for bile to flow in from your liver. I hold the bile until you eat fat.
Me: Okay. What’s bile? It doesn’t sound sexy at all.
Gallbladder: Ha! Without bile you could not BE sexy. Bile is like a detergent that your liver makes to break down fat into smaller particles so your body can digest them. I not only hold bile but I concentrate it for super dissolving action.
Me: So bile breaks down the fat in my food. But I heard my body will do this in my intestines anyway.
Gallbladder: The bile in your intestines is not concentrated. The breakdown will be slower without my bile. You may even need medication if you remove me just to keep things moving. And I mean that literally because if I am not happy you are constipated.
Me: Oh, I appreciate you more already, Gallbladder!
Gallbladder: Thanks, man! And let me tell you something else. You know all those healthy foods and supplements you eat? My bile makes sure that your body can access fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The Omega-3 fatty acids? You could kiss them good-bye because without me they would sit in your intestines waiting for pigs to fly.
Me: Gallbladder, you Rock!
Gallbladder: Shhhh! Please watch your language. I hate stones!
Me: What?! But you’re famous for your stones.
Gallbladder: I do my job holding and concentrating bile VERY well, thank you. But there comes a point when I need your help. I need you to make sure the liver makes enough bile so stones won’t form.
Me: How can I help?
Gallbladder: Eat more fiber from vegetables. Y’know like greens, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. I do not like lots of carbs and junk food! I enjoy fat, and probiotics. I do not like alcohol, stress or snacking! I need some time to digest your food, so wait a few hours between meals, okay? Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest,
Me: I promise to eat more vegetable fiber. I want us to stay friends, Gallbladder, How about a little drink of apple cider vinegar?
Gallbladder: With lemons and limes?
Me: You better believe it!
Gallbladder: Let’s go!