Creative Eldering – Nov. 2020 – Your Gallbladder
Your body was equipped with a gallbladder when you were born, hopefully you still have it. Sadly, many people lose their gallbladder to the surgeon’s knife at no fault of the gallbladder itself. The fault lays typically with person’s digestive function. Some people eat too much at a time, too fast and do not chew well enough, or they consume dietary fats that they do not process correctly. Eating the proverbial “low-fat diet” is often neither protective nor beneficial. Your body needs healthy and unadulterated dietary fats within the necessary macronutrient triad of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The best rule of thumb is to eat some of each of these macronutrient groups at each meal but be sure that they are natural and unadulterated (not chemically or mechanically processed). Your dietary fats are the necessary carrier for your fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) to enter and to be processed in your body. Please refer to pages 95-96 in my book, Your AGING Body Can Talk, second edition for more information.
It is well documented that Western adults begin to lose their digestive prowess around the age of 40, and often need a digestive enzyme supplement. Using a digestive enzyme formulation that contains lipase, the fat-specific digestive enzyme, can assist digestion and absorption of your dietary fat intake and prevent many problems of your gallbladder, your digestive system, even your whole body. The incidence of gallbladder disease and gallstones has a sharp uptick around the age of 40 as well.
If you have a gallbladder and it is average or fairly “normal”, your gallbladder will be shaped like a pear and about a third smaller than it the typical pear you would see in the grocery store. The size and shape and position of the adult gallbladder varies considerably from one person to another. Let us continue to think about and visualize the average, typical pear-shaped healthy gallbladder. The gallbladder seems to lay on its side, tucked in behind the bottom edge of the liver. Your common hepatic duct funnels bile from your liver into your gallbladder. When your very intelligent body realizes that you have eaten a fat containing meal, it secretes an important digestive hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). This hormone is produced in specific cells in your upper small intestine segments, your duodenum, and your jejunum. You may want to refer to my article on Your Small Intestine. CCK triggers the release of bile into your duodenum.
If you have had your gallbladder removed, the bile simply drips directly from the liver into the duodenum. A small proportion of people who have had a cholecystectomy (had their gallbladder removed) have diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome post surgically. In some cases, this fades away over time. By and large, most people do adapt to losing their gallbladder.