The gallbladder is a 4-inch, pear-shaped organ located under your liver in the upper right part of your abdomen. It plays a part in digesting the food you eat.
Its primary function is to store bile (a combination of fluids, fat and cholesterol) that helps break down fat from food in your intestine.
The gallbladder transfers the bile into the small intestine through the bile ducts. From here, fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients get absorbed into the bloodstream.
However, several types of conditions affect the gallbladder. These conditions include gallstones, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), biliary colic, and dysfunctional gallbladder.
Anyone can suffer from gallbladder problems. A few major risk factors include genetics, obesity and gender, with women being more prone to such problems than men. These problems can be a minor nuisance or develop into a major medical condition.
Different types of gallbladder problems have different sets of symptoms. Some signs and symptoms of trouble include pain in the upper abdominal area, pain beneath the right shoulder blade or toward the back, pain usually after eating a meal high in fat content, chest pain, heartburn, indigestion, and excessive gas and bloating.
If you suspect that you are having a gallbladder problem, consult your doctor immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. Many problems get better with removal of the gallbladder. Fortunately, you can live without it.
However, you can take steps to prevent or lower your risk of developing gallbladder problems in the first place.
Here are the top 10 ways to prevent gallbladder problems.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a dominant factor that increases the risk of developing gallbladder problems. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can prevent gallstones and other problems from occurring.
When it comes to weight loss, avoid rapid weight loss. Try to lose weight slowly and gradually to avoid health issues. Focus on losing 1 to 2 pounds per week until you reach your goal.
Never opt for crash diets, as they may actually contribute to gallstones. Eat healthy and follow a good exercise routine to reach your target weight. You can also consult a health expert to plan a proper schedule, customized to your body’s needs, time and other factors.
2. Do Moderate Exercises
Regular exercise is the secret behind a healthy body and mind. In fact, doing moderate exercise daily can reduce the risk of gallbladder diseases.
First, exercise reduces cholesterol in the blood, which can lead to gallbladder problems. Secondly, it can help keep your weight down, which may prevent gallstones. In addition, it ensures proper gallbladder and liver functioning as well as smooth digestion.
To reap the benefits of regular exercise, you don’t need to do intense workouts. Simple exercises, such as brisk walking, running, jogging, swimming, dancing, aerobics or cycling, can help.
Moderate exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week can make a huge difference in your life. If you are new to exercise, it is best to start under the guidance of an expert.
3. Dietary Changes
Diet also plays an important role in gallbladder disease. To prevent gallstones and other problems, you may need to make some changes in your diet plan.
- Use monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, to lower your risk. At the same time, avoid saturated fats found in fatty meats, butter and other animal products.
- Look for low-fat options like lean chicken, skim milk, low-fat yogurt and peanut butter.
- Eat more fiber like that found in whole-grain breads, cereals and vegetables.
- Consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Snack on peanuts, almonds and walnuts.
- Do not eat too much sugar or carbohydrates.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, fish oils, flaxseed, walnuts and tofu.
- Avoid spicy and fried foods and fatty meats.
You can take a supplement if you are not getting enough nutrients from your diet. Before taking any kind of supplement, always consult your doctor.
4. Start Your Day with Lemon Water
Lemon is a powerful natural detoxifying ingredient. Several components in lemon stimulate your gallbladder to produce more bile needed for healthy digestion. Plus, it helps dissolve calcium deposits. It even helps the liver in the detoxifying process to help the body get rid of toxins.
In addition, it helps you fight obesity, one of the major risk factors for gallbladder problems.
Mix the juice of ½ lemon in a glass of warm water, add a little raw honey and drink it daily in the morning on an empty stomach. You can also drink lemon water a few times throughout the day.
5. Try Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar on a daily basis is a healthy habit. It can even help prevent gallbladder problems. The acidic nature of apple cider vinegar prevents buildup of body fat and certain liver fats that may cause blockage in the gallbladder.
In addition, it can lead to a significant decrease in body weight, abdominal fat, waist circumference and triglycerides.
Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a little raw honey in a glass of warm water. Drink it twice daily.
6. Have Wine in Moderation
Drinking a moderate amount of wine on a regular basis can reduce your chances of developing gallstones and other problems.
In 2009, University of East Anglia researchers concluded that wine taken in moderation could help prevent gallstone attacks.
People who drink 2 units of wine (a medium-size glass) a day can reduce their risk of developing gallstones by one third. Men should not drink more than 3 to 4 units a day, whereas the limit for women is 2 to 3 units a day. Half of a standard glass of wine is one unit.
Always bear in mind that excessive wine intake can have adverse effects on your gallbladder as well as lungs, liver and kidneys.