February 05, 2014

Gallstones

     Gallstones form in the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver. The gallbladder aids in the digestive process by storing bile and secreting it into the small intestine when food enters. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and is made up of several substances, including cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts. 

     Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. These stones develop because cholesterol and pigments in bile sometimes form hard particles.




The two main types of gallstones are:

  • Cholesterol stones: Usually yellow-green in color, approximately 80% of gallstones are cholesterol stones.
  • Pigment stones: These stones are smaller and darker and are made up of bilirubin.


Several factors may come together to create gallstones, including:


  • Genetics
  • Body weight
  • Decreased motility (movement) of the gallbladder
  • Diet


Healthy Foods for the Gallbladder

     Whether or not you are at risk for gallstones, it's always a good idea to keep your body at a healthy weight and eat a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol, moderate in calories, and high in fibre.  All of the following are healthy foods for your gallbladder, as well as the rest of your body

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains (whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oats, bran cereal)
  • Lean meat, poultry, and fish
  • Low-fat dairy products


Pointers


  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop them. 
  • Diets that are high in fat and cholesterol and low in fibre appear to play a role.
The risk of gallstones is higher in people who are overweight and obese. There is a link between quick weight loss and gallstone formation. Crash diets can cause the liver to release more cholesterol into the bile, disrupting the normal balance of cholesterol and bile salts. That extra cholesterol can form into crystals, leading to gallstones.

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