Posted By: CustomVite Nutrition Team Date: September 25, 2017 Comments: 0
If you’ve ever heard your doctor mention that you might have gallstones, you’re not alone. In fact, 10-15% of the US adult population has (or will have) gallstones at some point in their lives. But what exactly are gallstones and how does nutrition play a role? Here’s a quick A-Z guide on how to deal with this condition.
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are hard particles that develop in the gallbladder and can occur when there’s an imbalance of substances that make up bile (a digestive agent), such as too much cholesterol, or not enough bile salts. Stones can vary in size and can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a green pea. If the gallbladder does not empty completely or often enough, this can also cause gallstones. The presence of gallstones can cause severe pain in the upper right abdomen and may be accompanied by nausea, fever and vomiting. Other symptoms include consistent pain below the breastbone, which can radiate into the right or left shoulder area and around to the back. The pain can last anywhere from 30 minutes to many hours. Gallbladder attacks often occur in the evenings, following a heavy meal. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to notify your healthcare practitioner.
How are Gallstones Treated?
Sometimes gallstones can be present but do not cause any symptoms, and are referred to as “silent” gallstones. In this case, the stones do not affect the function of the gallbladder, liver or pancreas and often do not need to be treated. On the other hand, if gallstones are causing discomfort or instigating gallbladder attacks, your healthcare practitioner may suggest surgery to remove the gallbladder. Interestingly, the gallbladder is not an essential organ, meaning that you can live normally without it once it’s been removed.
Does Nutrition Play a role?
If you have gallstones or if you’re prone to developing them, nutrition plays a major role in keeping the condition at bay. Once the problem has been professionally addressed, the following diet and lifestyle tips may help you to maintain a healthy gallbladder:
-Eat a diet consisting of 75% raw foods
-Turmeric root (either as a spice or nutritional supplement) can help to lower your risk of developing gallstones and reduce inflammation
– If you have an attack, drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with pure apple juice to relieve pain quickly
-Avoid sugary foods since excessive amounts of sugar can form gallstones
-Avoid animal fat and meat, full fat dairy products, and fried foods
-Take 500mg of the nutritional supplement taurine, twice a day-Herbs such as peppermint, rosemary and dandelion root may help promote long-term gallbladder health
(1) Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: a Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements. Penguin, 2011.
(2) Gallstones. (2013, November). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gallstones
(3) Stinton, LM, Shaffer, EA. 2012. Epidemiology of gallbladder disease: Cholelithiasis and cancer. Gut Liver, April 6 (2): 172-187.
(4) Wartian Smith, P. (2008). What You Must Know about Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & More. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.