Gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed surgeries in the United States today. Some estimates put it at over half a million gallbladders removed each year. Frequently removal comes after multiple gallbladder attacks and/or symptoms, and is in response to an emergency. Gallbladder attacks are suggestive of congested bile with a build up of concentrated bile that cause gallstones.
Other symptoms to not be ignored – pain between the shoulder blades, a stomach that is upset by greasy foods, frequent nausea, motion sickness, light or clay colored stools, very dry skin, peeling skin on the feet, headaches over the eyes, bitter taste in your mouth after eating, pain under the right side of the rib cage, and of course, a full blown attack of the gallbladder. See your practitioner and get the liver/gallbladdered cleaned out.
It had been thought previously that the gallbladder was a redundant organ that could be removed without much harm. But, the gallbladder is actually an essential organ. People without gallbladders are unable to adequately emulsify and digest fat. There can also be irritation to the digestive system from bile continually dripping into the small intestine.
A quick anatomy lesson: The liver secretes bile which is held and concentrated in the gallbladder. Chemically, bile contains significant quantities of cholesterol and bile salts that act to emulsify (break up) fats. Fats form large globules and must be broken down into smaller particles increasing their surface area in the small intestine to aid digestion. Additionally, bile that is eliminated in the stool serves as a way to excrete cholesterol from the body.
So, what happens when you eat something with fat? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a piece of salmon, coconut oil in your cooking, animal protein, olive oil dressing, evening primrose pills, fish oil tablets, etc. When the fat leaves the stomach a hormone is triggered releasing bile into the small intestine. The bile breaks the fat down, your body absorbed what it needs, and you excrete the rest . . . in a perfect world.
It probably goes without saying that I think it’s best to keep your gallbladder if possible. Take a look back at my blogs working through a liver/gallbladder cleanse. It can be done. But, in an emergency, get to the hospital and say good-bye to gallbladder. Not ignoring early symptoms can keep your system working optimally and give the opportunity to save the gallbladder. An attack in the past is a sign that another attack may be imminent.
If you’ve already had yours removed, its a good idea to take bile salts with your meals, or at minimum with your higher fat meals. This will help the fat get emulsified. Many people gain weight after gallbladder surgery, and most commonly get a spare tire look around their middle. This can be partly due to the body not emulsifying and absorbing fat so it begins “padding” the body with extra since it feels like it’s not getting enough. It is also common to have a deficiency in essential fatty acids over time after the gallbladder is removed. This can cause all sorts of aches and pains, dry skin and scalp, stiffness, and chronic diseases. It’s also possible to have a vitamin deficiency since vitamins A, D, E, & K require fat in order to be absorbed. Best bet to assist your system after removal of the gallbladder - bile salts.