The gallbladder may be small, but it’s a vital organ for your body’s overall functioning. It’s the organ responsible for storing and releasing bile into your digestive tract so it can break down various fats from the food that passes through your intestines. Gallbladders also help the bloodstream more easily absorb nutrients and vitamins.
When any of those processes are interrupted, it can cause concern for your gallbladder health. Depending on age, sex, and genetics, many people produce gallstones, which block the flow of bile, gallbladder disease, and other health issues related to the gallbladder, like inflammation in other organs. In some cases, people need to have their gallbladder removed.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage your risks for gallbladder issues. Here are ten tips to take better care of your gallbladder.
1. Regularly Exercise
Getting regular exercise helps your gallbladder and the rest of your body, too. It can reduce your cholesterol levels, which helps prevent gallstones from forming in your gallbladder. These stones can cause severe pain, infection, and inflammation, and may grow larger. You don’t have to participate in intense workout routines seven days a week to keep it healthy. Both vigorous and non-vigorous activities do the trick. Try to get at least 30 minutes per day, five times a week.
2. Avoid Fried and Fatty Foods
Unhealthy fats, often found in fried or fatty foods, can put a strain on your gallbladder. Remember that the gallbladder’s job is to produce bile to help the body digest fats. When you have a higher intake of unhealthy fats, like saturated and trans fats, your gallbladder has to work extra hard. These fats are often present in processed foods, red meats, fried food, fast food, candy, premade salad dressings, and ice cream. Cut back on how much of these you consume.
3. Opt for Nutrient-Rich Foods
Since you’ll want to avoid the foods listed above, you can replace them with nutrient and vitamin-rich foods. A higher intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and fiber can help your gallbladder function more smoothly and efficiently. Leafy vegetables offer antioxidants that can help prevent gallbladder disease. Fibrous foods support your digestive health and enhance the movement of food. Even coffee and calcium-containing foods are great for the gallbladder.
4. Up Your Magnesium Intake
Adding more magnesium to your diet may help prevent gallbladder disease. Usually, it’s present in various fresh fruits and vegetables. Magnesium allows the gallbladder to empty, and if you’re having gallbladder pain, it can ease the pain and spasms. A deficiency of magnesium can increase the risk of gallstones. You can mix magnesium powder in with warm water or take it as an oral supplement. You can also eat spinach, nuts, avocado, yogurt, and bananas.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for anyone’s health. Being overweight or obese can especially raise your chances of forming gallstones, which occur in about 20 million people every year. The extra weight you carry around can make your gallbladder larger, meaning it cannot work as well. It also raises your cholesterol levels. Slowly get to a healthy weight, watch the foods you eat, and exercise regularly to reduce your risks.
6. Don’t Participate in Crash Diets
Losing weight slowly is the key to making your gallbladder healthier. People always participate in crash diets because they want to lose weight fast. However, a sudden drop in your weight can cause severe problems with your gallbladder. Even though crash diets sound tempting, they’ll prevent your gallbladder from properly emptying. If it doesn’t empty, then you’ll likely produce gallstones. Aim to lose no more than two pounds per week.
7. Drink Plenty of Water
Water fixes a lot of health problems, including an unhealthy gallbladder. The goal of drinking about eight glasses of water per day is standard for many people. If you’re drinking anything else in excess, like soda, iced tea, lemonade, or alcohol, you’re simply adding sugars into your system. If you don’t flush it out with water, it can take a toll on your gallbladder. Plus, drinking water can help you lose weight too, which will help your gallbladder as well.
8. Snack on Berries and Nuts
Instead of going for the bag of chips or the candy bar, swap it out for berries and nuts. Berries are an excellent source of vitamin C. Those who have a higher intake of vitamin C often are less likely to get gallbladder disease and gallstones. Women should get 75 milligrams of vitamin C, and men should get 90 milligrams per day. Nuts are also an excellent snack choice for your gallbladder. They pack in plenty of fiber and healthy fats but eat them sparingly.
9. Recognize the Signs of an Unhealthy Gallbladder
When your gallbladder is unhealthy, you want to take steps to make it better as soon as possible. Here are some of the signs that you may have problems with your gallbladder health:
- Pain: You’ll probably notice a painful sensation in the mid to upper-right area of your abdomen. It could be very mild and come and go, or it could be debilitating and frequent. You may even experience pain in your chest or back.
- Nausea: Often, you’ll have nausea and vomiting if you have gallbladder problems. If you have chronic gallbladder disease, though, you may experience gas and acid reflux.
- Diarrhea: If you notice you have more than four bowel movements a day for three months, you may have gallbladder disease.
- Unusual stools or urine: Dark urine and light-colored stool are signs of your bile duct being blocked.
- Chills or fever: Finally, unexplained fever or chills are often associated with infection. Although it may not be your gallbladder, if you have any of the other above signs, then it very likely could be caused by your gallbladder.
When you recognize the signs and symptoms of gallbladder problems, you can make a more informed decision to go to the doctor. Seek help immediately, so the infection doesn’t spread.
10. Take Preventative Medications
Some individuals may be more at risk for gallbladder issues than others. People who are overweight or have a family history of gallbladder issues are at an increased risk of gallbladder disease and gallstones. Talk with your doctor about taking preventative medications to lessen your chances of those medical issues. Various hormones, cholesterol-lowering medicines, and drugs used to treat obesity can help prevent gallstones.
A Healthier You
Taking steps to get a healthier gallbladder will help your overall health. Remember to talk to your doctor if you think you may have gallbladder issues.