You’ve probably heard plenty of advice about how to take care of your heart, but how often do you think about your gallbladder? This little organ rarely makes headlines, but it’s important for your digestion and overall health.
Its main job is to store bile and add it to the food in your small intestine so your body can break down fats. Most complications arise when cholesterol builds up and creates gallstones that block the duct between the gallbladder and the intestines.
Fortunately, caring for your gallbladder is mostly a matter of following the same habits that make up any healthy lifestyle.
Here’s a quick guide to your gallbladder and you:
Limit saturated fat
A diet high in saturated fats puts a heavy burden on your gallbladder, so cut back on fried foods, red meat, and butter. Unsaturated fats have the opposite effect. Try to get most of your fat calories from sources like olive oil, salmon, and nuts.
Dietary fiber provides many health benefits including lowering the LDL type of cholesterol that can block your intestines, as well as clogging your arteries.
Feast on fresh produce and whole grains
The health benefits of fresh produce is no secret or surprise with all the information available online. Make sure you have your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
How about preventing those Gallbladder Conditions? Here are 4 tips on prevention:
Focus on vitamins
In addition to fiber, many fruits and vegetables contain essential micronutrients that help fight gallstones. Add more vitamin C and E to your diet with cantaloupe, kiwi, and spinach, as well as almonds and shrimp.
You’d probably guess that water could help empty your gallbladder, but so can coffee and alcohol. Be sure to use them in moderation to avoid any unwanted effects.
Regular exercise can help you stay lean and trim abdominal fat that interferes with digestion. Move more throughout the day and work out for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Save your money if you see ads for special gallbladder cleanses. They may be harmful, and your body already detoxifies naturally.
Premenopausal women are at the highest risk for gallbladder conditions due to hormonal factors. Age, genetics, and lifestyle can all increase your risk.
It’s important to understand the symptoms. More than 80% of gallstones are harmless and require no treatment, but if a gallstone starts to block the flow of bile, you may notice symptoms including abdominal discomfort, bloating, vomiting, and jaundice.
At this point, it’s vital to see your doctor. He/She can run tests to confirm if you have gallstones. These tests will usually include blood tests and abdominal ultrasounds. If your symptoms are mild, they may be manageable with a low-fat diet, but more serious complications are likely to require surgery to remove your gallbladder.
You can live without a gallbladder as bile will move from your liver to your intestines without being stored anywhere in between.
More than 25 million adults in the U.S. experience gallstones but changing your diet and other lifestyle habits can reduce your risks. Avoid gallbladder attacks by cutting back on saturated fat, eating more fiber, and exercising regularly.