The Link Between Your Gallbladder, Digestion & Hormone Health

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Many people suffer from low gallbladder function without realising, or understanding how it impacts their hormone health.

Symptoms of bloating, belching, abdominal pain, gas, nausea, brain fog, high cholesterol and the effects of excess estrogen are treated symptomatically, and the role of the gallbladder is overlooked as a potential cause. 

Do you know if your Gall bladder is working well? Or what your gall bladder even does? 🤷

Your gallbladder is a small pouch that is connected to and nestles in just below your liver. It stores a substance called bile that is made in your liver.

Your gallbladder has three primary important functions…

When you eat, your gall bladder squirts this liquid bile into the beginning of your small intestine, your duodenum, to break the large fat molecules in your diet down so that, with the help of pancreatic enzymes they become small enough to be absorbed to, among other things, feed your brain and hormone production.

Bile also is important for helping to breakdown fat soluble vitamins so our cells can absorb them. Good bile flow helps increase our levels of vitamin A, D, E and K!

Bile is important for breaking down and removing fat-soluble toxins from your body. Your liver transmutes fat soluble toxins into water soluble toxins and then the bile from your gallbladder helps these toxins (and excess cholesterol) move out of your body via the large intestine.

A job well done by this busy little gland!

But, when bile becomes thick and sluggish it creates re absorption of toxins which sit in our fat cells and brain tissue, and inhibits removal of excess estrogen.

Excess estrogen is a dangerous thing that can lead to fibroids, endometriosis, and breast cancers or weight gain and fluid retention.

When bile, which is alkaline, does not flow well it can’t temper the acid environment in the gut and this can contribute to burning sensations, gut ulcers and reflux.

Sluggish bile flow also creates constipation as proper bile flow creates that ‘urge to go!’ It can also create fatty loose bowels, often soon after eating, as fats are not broken down and go right through you. Sorry if TMI!

Eventually sluggish bile will form crystals and create gallstones which are very painful.

You can feel if you gall bladder is overfull or sluggish by pressing under your mid right ribcage below your right breast. If it is tender or down right painful then your gall bladder is not very happy. 😔

Well, everyone is unique but here are a few possibilities.

Eating too much fatty foods and oil… more than your gallbladder and liver can cope with.

Eating cold foods as the cold thickens fat molecules.. think ice-cream or other cold dairy.

Taking excess or for a long time, fish oil or evening primrose oil.

Rapid weight loss also puts the gall bladder under pressure as it has to break down a lot of fat in a short space of time.

Hypothyroidism. Low thyroid function both prevents the gallbladders ability to release bile and the livers ability to breakdown cholesterol which again puts a load on the gallbladder.

Science had also discovered that low thyroid function inhibits the sphincter of Oddi (great name hey!) from opening and releasing bile into the small intestine!

Many symptoms, from excess estrogen and cholesterol, to digestive discomfort, lymphatic congestion and an increased toxic load can all be traced back to poor liver and gallbladder function.

Read more about the role your liver plays in estrogen dominance here.

Generally there is no need to rush and get your gall bladder taken out! (But please always check with your doctor if you are experiencing pain in the gall bladder area or even under your right shoulder blade and into the right side of the neck and head as referred pain.)

The good news is there is much that can be done to support good gall bladder function. There are certain foods that will help your liver and gallbladder to function well, keep bile flowing and thus help your body remove excess estrogens and toxins.

Here is a list of foods that help your liver and gallbladder to function well and keep bile flowing. 

Beetroot – also very good for managing blood pressure. Eat it cooked, roasted, as soup. Or try this delicious salad with raw beetroot marinated in a little olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to make it easier to digest.

Try this Beetroot Soup, and Spring Beetroot and Carrot Salad that is delicious and full of good enzymes to support your gallbladder health.

Apples – and other fruits that are high in pectin like pears, quinces (although not with too much sugar added like in paste or jam. I like to stew apples and quinces together when in season). Plums and gooseberries.

Indian gooseberry aka Amalaki has the highest concentration of vitamin c of any known food and is astringent so helps the gallbladder contract and squeeze out its bile!

Celery – helps dissolve gallstones over time.

Turmeric, ginger, bitter greens, fennel, artichokes are all foods that support bile flow.

I love a fresh juice with celery, apple, beetroot and ginger, in that order of majority to lesser ingredients. I soak my refrigerated veggies in warm water for a minute so they are not cold!

Make sure you eat enough fiber to sweep your digestive tract clean!

From the Ayurvedic perspective people who have an excess of the fire element (Pitta) are more prone to liver and gallbladder conditions. Thus adopting a Pitta reducing lifestyle and diet will help to prevent and alleviate gallbladder upsets.

The Ayurvedic approach is to treat the whole person not just the symptoms. Checking up with your Ayurvedic practitioner will ensure you are getting the best care and outcome that you deserve!

In addition to eating those good foods above you can also:

Eat primarily warm cooked foods and sip hot water or herbal teas through the day.

Reduce or avoid eating:

Cold dairy, (always warm it or have yogurt at room temp).

Nut butters (as they are hard to digest).

Poor quality processed fats and oily or deep fried food, and hard cheeses or the really gooey ones like triple cream brie!

Excess spicy food like chilli and cayenne.. As well as the heating substances alcohol and coffee.

Avoid cold drinks, overeating and ingesting perles of fats like fish oils, flax oil, evening primrose oils. They are not easy for your liver to digest. 

You can get all your omega three needs from ghee which is much easier to digest and supports liver health.

And, as Ayurveda always recommends, only eat when you are hungry! Then your body has the power to digest well which puts less pressure on your digestive organs including your liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

Ayurveda uses several herbs which are renowned for creating happy a gallbladder! Hemidesmus Indicus (aka Sariva), Manjistha and even the simple spices coriander, cumin and fennel. You can make a tea from equal parts of these three seeds to help clear toxins form your gut and support good digestion.

Many bitter herbs support liver function and thus gallbladder health too. But always consult with your Ayurvedic Practitioner to make sure what you are taking is right for your individual needs.

If you have questions ask away below! Or book your consultation or free clarity call here.

Here’s to your good health!

x Jacq

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