At lunch yesterday I forgot to take my bile salts. I had a delicious meal of ahi tuna, bok choy, broccoli, and glass noodles (made of peas, beans, water), cooked in plenty of coconut oil. Twenty minutes later I rushed to the bathroom with stomach cramps and diarrhea. I forgot to take my bile salts just once, and this was my reward. The sad truth about the removal of most of my liver, and with it, my gallbladder, remains, that I have to take this stuff with each meal… indefinitely. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes down to it, I am glad to be alive and well, and that I do have the option to do something about this.
However, since I first reported about my issues with the missing gallbladder, I have talked to about two dozen people, who came out of the wood works to tell me that they, too, are experiencing problems with their digestion. Not, that any of them have been informed by their surgeons beforehand, what the consequences of a gallbladder removal might be. According to most surgeons, “the gallbladder is a useless organ”.
I beg to differ! The gallbladder, as any other organ in your body, is there for a reason. It serves a purpose, that only the gallbladder can. Your liver produces bile, and your gallbladder absorbs the water in it through its walls and stores the concentrated bile until it is needed to break down fats. When chyme (partially digested food) enters the duodenum, cells in there release cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK enters the bloodstream and signals to the gallbladder to contract and release bile to break down the fats in your food.
NONE OF THIS CAN HAPPEN, if you do not have a gallbladder. A logical step may seem to eat a low fat diet, which is what lots and lots of medical professionals recommend to their patients. This is not the solution to the problem. (See my disclaimer below post, please.) If you eat a diet low in fat, you deprive your body of essential fatty acids. Also, as you cut out your fat intake, you are more than likely increasing your carb intake, and in a Standard American Diet, sadly these carbs come as bread, rice, and other “healthy grains”. Carbs are digested in the mouth. They give quick energy, but this energy won’t last long, and since you digest them in your mouth mostly, you’ll be hungry again soon. More food is needed. More carbs… You see where I’m going with this, right?
My very non-professional (but common sense) recommendation is to try to keep your gallbladder if you can. Of course, a severe attack, big gallstones, or acute pain may warrant surgical removal of your gallbladder. And I won’t argue with that fact. But, if you are not in severe pain, then it may be helpful if you just sat down and did your homework on how to make sure you can keep your gallbladder. I highly recommend The Liver Doctor as a source for your research, or google Dr. Jack Kruse.
If your gallbladder is gone, and you are experiencing symptoms like pain in the upper right quadrant, diarrhea after meals, stomach cramps, even a feeling of acid reflux (yes, I experienced all of these), pain between your shoulder blades, then it is up to YOU to help your gallbladder!
1. Take those bile salts. Religiously. With every meal!
2. Eat dark leafy greens!
3. Include things like milk thistle, dandelion, artichoke in your diet, or take them as a supplement.
4. Drink plenty of water.
5. Most important, don’t fear eating fat. With the right bile salts product, you will be able to get rid of these symptoms and enjoy the great paleo/primal foods you love.
6. Never stop doing your homework. No matter, what anybody tells you, always seek a second opinion. Read up. Read the pros and cons. Do yourself a favor and take care of your own health. Nobody else will do it for you!
Having said all that, I am of course NOT a medical professional. I am merely a patient, a student of nutritional therapy, a seeker of truth. My opinions here are just that… opinions based on the research that I have done, and on my own experience with the subject matter, and the conversations I have had with other people who are sitting in the same boat. I am not prescribing any drugs, nor am I making any recommendations for anyone in particular. You are responsible for your own health, and by reading this you understand, that I am not diagnosing or treating you or anybody else reading this post.
Also, I hate legal talk. But I suppose it’s important. :)