Most of us likely still have a gallbladder, but most of us, even if it has been removed, don’t really know what the function of this organ is or why it is important to maintain its good health. Yes, we can live without it, but the body must learn how to adapt when any organ is missing, diseased or damaged.
The gallbladder is found just under the liver and works in conjunction with the liver. It stores bile that the liver produces to help us digest our food, but it does more than this. It also reclaims important substances from the alkaline liver bile that your body needs.
How does it work?
In response to the presence of food in the stomach and/or upper portion of the small intestines, the gallbladder contracts, forcing bile through the cystic duct connected to the common bile duct, where it mixes bile with pancreatic juices, then enters the upper part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.
Bile breaks apart large fat globules so that enzymes from the pancreas can digest fats and assist their absorption. Bile consists mostly of water and bile salts. During bile storage the gallbladder causes water and other electrolytes such as chloride to be reabsorbed.
The liver produces bile that is alkaline which helps to neutralize stomach acids. Alkaline bile does not damage our body’s tissues. However, through poor diet, especially the lack of plant-based nutrients, the alkaline bile in the gallbladder can become acidic when sodium and other alkaline substances are reabsorbed from it. When acidic bile reaches the duodenum it cannot neutralize the acid from the food and stomach acid so your body is now adding acid to acid before it enters the rest of the intestinal tract.
An Unhealthy Gallbladder:
An unhealthy gallbladder can cause bouts of heartburn and may eventually cause the development of gallstones causing pain and discomfort. Gallstones are the most common problem to affect the gallbladder.[i] They generally form when the bile is saturated with either cholesterol or bilirubin. Only a minority of gallstones cause symptoms; most stones are passed through the biliary system. As well, there are medications that can be prescribed to help break down the gallstones. If the problem become chronic, the usual resulting treatment is to have the gallbladder surgically removed instead of changing your eating habits to a healthy diet. The gallbladder did not cause the problem, your eating habits did!
What Happens After Surgery?
Without the gallbladder you may feel better, as your body is only using the alkaline bile produced by the liver, but now you lack the previously stored organic sodium and plant produced minerals your body requires to neutralize acids in the body. The liver alone must now produce enough bile for your body and it has no organ to recycle, reabsorb or store nutrients your body needs.
After the gallbladder is removed and you continue to eat an unhealthy diet without plenty of fruits and vegetables, all you have done is remove the symptoms of the problem. Your body has no “back-up” of stored bile to fight the buildup of toxic acids.
Keeping your Gallbladder Healthy:
If you have NOT had your gallbladder removed and do not want to run into major problems then it is important to keep it healthy with a proper diet. To avoid heartburn, gallstones and surgery eat your fruits and vegetables, which will benefit your entire body – not just the gallbladder. Any surgery can have risks, not to mention a long recovery time. Take the easy, safer route and eat healthy.
Your chiropractor can address your concerns if you feel you may be at risk for gallbladder attacks. Ask him or her at your next appointment for diet advice.
[i] Rodriguez, D. (2010, Jan. 25). What Is the Gallbladder? Everyday Health, Retrieved Mar. 20, 2011, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/gallbladder/what-is-the-gallbladder.html