Your Gallbladder

Your Gallbladder – what is it and where is it located?

Your gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that stores and concentrates bile.  Located behind your liver on the right side of your rib cage, it hits up against the under surface of your liver and is approximately 3 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch wide.

 

Functions of the gallbladder:

Bile is continually being produced and secreted by your liver into bile ducts in varying amounts. It has two major functions in your body.  First, it breaks down the fats that you eat so that your body can utilize them.  Without adequate bile you would not metabolize your fats well, which could result in a deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).  Without this bile, you would also have problems digesting essential fatty acids. Amongst other symptoms you could have trouble utilizing calcium, have dry skin, peeling on the soles of your feet, etc.

Second, this bile is a very powerful antioxidant, which helps to remove toxins from your liver.  The liver filters toxins (bacteria, viruses, drugs or other foreign substances the body doesn’t want) and sends them out via the bile, which is made in the liver.  The pathway of departure is from the liver through the bile ducts and into the gallbladder or directly into the small intestine where it joins waste matter and leaves through the colon.

 

Health issues associated with the gallbladder:

Sometimes the substances contained in the bile that you excrete can crystallize in the gallbladder, forming gallstones.  These small, hard formations are more common in persons over 40, women and the obese.  They can cause inflammation of the gallbladder, a disorder that produces symptoms similar to those of indigestion, especially after a fatty meal is consumed.  If a stone becomes lodged in the bile duct, it produces severe pain.  Gallstones may pass out of the body spontaneously; however, serious blockage is treated by removing the gallbladder surgically.

 

Healthy Recommendations:

If you eat a healthy diet and have a healthy weight, you are more likely to have a healthy gallbladder.

Foods to Avoid

  • Sugar, specifically refined sugars such as those found in cookies and snack foods
  • Carbohydrates, like white bread and pasta
  • Saturated fats found in fatty red meat, butter, and whole-milk dairy products
  • Fried foods

Last, your best bet for gallbladder health is to focus on a well-balanced diet, a normal body mass index, and an active lifestyle.  Remember, health is a journey not a destination….  Happy Monday!