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No gallbladder and having digestion issues? Discover how they may be related.

When trying to determine the root cause of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or any chronic illness, it’s important to look into your timeline. Functional medicine recognizes the significance of and seeks to explore how these past events may be triggering current medical symptoms. We can all remember learning about the body systems in school (digestive, respiratory, circulatory, etc.) but rarely did we think how these separate systems are truly all connected and impact another.

Today we are going to dig deeper into the digestive system so that you can understand the role of the gallbladder in the system and how its dysfunction or removal can cause a disruption in the system and lead to secondary symptoms such as IBS. The digestive system is made up of salivary glands, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, rectum, and the accessory digestive organs: liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

Your liver is still making bile.  It’s just that without a gallbladder, there is no where to store it.

Zooming in on the gallbladder, its role in the system is like that of a holding tank. Its stores the bile that is produced by the liver until it is needed for the digestion of fats. When you eat a fatty meal, your body sends a signal to the gallbladder to release bile to help break down the fat. A visual to help you understand the importance of bile is to picture a glass of water. Dump in a spoonful of olive oil. What happens? The oil is in a ball floating around in the water. Now dump in dish soap (this is the bile) and give the glass a stir. The fat becomes broken down and distributed throughout the glass. In your body, these smaller pieces of fat are easier for your body to digest and use. Fat is necessary for optimum health and plays a vital role in brain function as well as aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K.

Can you live without a gallbladder? Yes you can because your liver is still making bile. The problem is there’s just no where to keep the storage. So, your liver keeps making bile and it drips into the digestive system much like a leaky faucet. The problem is there is no way to adjust the flow so when you consume a fatty meal, there is no difference in the amount of bile released to help you digest the fat. This can lead to a speedy exit out of your system because the body can’t fully digest.

4 Things that you can do to help restore digestive function after gallbladder removal

1. Choose Healthy Fats and Remove Processed Oils

Without a gallbladder to hold bile, you need to be careful with the type of fat that you consume because they are not all equal. Some fats are easier to digest than others. Chris Kresser advises, “Coconut oil is a very good fat for people without a gallbladder because it doesn’t require bile acids for absorption, so it’s rapidly absorbed… So, coconut oil is definitely your friend if you’re lacking a gallbladder.”

Other healthy fats are extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and salmon.  Avoid refined vegetable oils (like sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, etc. which are harder for the body to digest and are also higher in Omega 6 fats which can cause inflammation in the body in excess.

Resource: https://blog.bulletproof.com/digest-fats-with-without-gallbladder/

2. Eat Bitter Foods

Bitter leafy greens simulate your liver to produce bile, which helps thin sticky bile and get things moving. Before heavy meals, you can take herbal digestive bitters. Make sure you taste and chew the bitters well because the first line of signaling for bile comes from the tongue.

Resource: https://blog.bulletproof.com/digest-fats-with-without-gallbladder/

3. Adding digestive enzymes and ox bile before meals.

Talk to your doctor about taking a complete digestive enzyme before meals such as Now Brand, Super Enzymes that contain Ox bile, Betaine HCl and Lipase. Bile from oxen is most similar to humans’ so it makes a huge difference. Digestive enzymes help your body to break down the food so that you can better digest and absorb vitamins and minerals.

Resource: https://blog.bulletproof.com/digest-fats-with-without-gallbladder/

4. Removing any food sensitivities

Determine if there are any food sensitivities and remove from the diet. This can be done through testing or by mindfully completing an elimination diet such as Whole30 or the IFM 21 day Elimination Diet. The gallbladder become “sludge filled” or dysfunctional for a reason that required its removal. Digging into the “why” did it become this way is important for the health of the rest of your body. Often times, unknown food sensitivities can the be the root cause for illness.

Interested in learning more about your gallbladder? These are some wonderful links to explore for more information

https://kresserinstitute.com/little-known-connection-leaky-gut-gluten-intolerance-gallbladder-problems/

https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/gallbladder-hormone-balance-connection-mean-dont-gallbladder/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/digest-fats-with-without-gallbladder/

https://www.happy-mothering.com/05/health-2/supplements-healthy-digestion-after-gallbladder-removal/

https://wellnessrepair.com/what-you-must-do-if-your-gallbladder-has-been-removed/

https://wellnessrepair.com/what-you-must-do-if-your-gallbladder-has-been-removed/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqeMzgi0mRo&fbclid=IwAR2PyRK5zBSWy40lI7MGHmlsS0xp2CfQRCqA_21ltrkkCszSi6ikXOrVxto

Mark Hyman – video on how to eat without a gallbladder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvR7WNHbYX0

Dr. Berg – What happens with the systems when you don’t have a gall bladder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9LvfK1XSwM

Health Benefits of Intentional, Deep Breathing

I knew I wanted to write my first official blog post  about breathing. Breathing? I know it seems like a silly topic to write about since we do it every second of every day. But the type of breathing I want to inspire you to practice  daily is deep belly breathing which is intentional, slow, and will greatly impact the way you feel.

Those who know me personally, know I am a bit uptight and easily stressed out. In fact while I was prepping to write this article at the coffee shop my headphones were in a lovely tangled mess and with each twist and attempt to untangle the cord I could literally feel my shoulders inching upwards towards my ears. Not only do I get stressed easily but I also have a hard time being still and quiet. I am sure many of you can relate to this in our ever demanding world where there is always a noise coming from some device attracting our attention and need to respond. I find the constant interruptions and demands make me feel like I am in a chronic state of stress. My body all the while is craving time to be quiet and still, however, I lack the desire to listen and take the time.

My journey to setting aside time daily to simply “breathe” started a few years ago. After experiencing an injury from exercising, I sought the help from a chiropractor. The appointment was rushed and I was tense and hesitant about having my neck adjusted. “Oh, don’t be worried, you will be fine. It doesn’t hurt,” were the words that were said but my body didn’t respond, trust, and relax. Unfortunately, the forceful manipulation of an area where I held my tension caused a lot of trauma which has lead to lasting pain and limitations my neck. Before this incident my body was able to manage the stress and tension that I carried in this part of my body, however, it now speaks to me daily.

This injury and the treatment I sought with a craniosacral therapist has lead to a deeper awakening and realization that I needed to learn about my body. I will never forget my first few appointments with my terapist. She was warm, calm, and very quiet as she placed her hands on me to “listen” to my body and see what it needed. When was the last time, I had laid still and listened to my own body? I am used to demanding things from it and ignoring it. After a few moments, she opened her eyes and said, “you’re breathing in your chest and your left side is stuck.” She had me put my hand on my abdomen and asked me to get the breath out of my chest and down to my belly button where my hand was resting. I honestly couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried to force the breath downward to where my hand was resting. This deep belly breathing that my lungs naturally did as an infant had somehow along the way been retrained instead to take short quick breaths that only expanded my chest. These type of breathes do not fill the body with oxygen in the same manner and actually amp up the adrenal system and make you feel more stressed.

Carol Krucoff of The Washington Post writes in her article “Breathe”   that

“Obviously, everyone alive knows how to breathe. But … experts in the emerging field of mind-body medicine, say that few people in Western, industrialized society know how to breathe correctly. Taught to suck in our guts and puff out our chests, we’re bombarded with a constant barrage of stress, which causes muscles to tense and respiration rate to increase. As a result, we’ve become a nation of shallow `chest breathers,` who primarily use the middle and upper portions of the lungs.”

Looking at the biological impact of deep breathing Jim Gordon, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in the District states that  `

When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where oxygen exchange is most efficient, everything changes. Heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety eases and the mind calms. Breathing this way also gives people a sense of control over their body and their emotions that is extremely therapeutic.”

Following my first craniosacral therapy session I have worked on retraining my body to relax through deep belly breathing but it requires intention. Now when my body becomes tight and tense I prefer to lie in bed on my back and spend five or so minutes focusing on my breath. I feel that my body responds within seconds now to these deep breaths. I can  feel the tension fade away slowly and the tight muscles in my neck start to loosen. But most importantly, I feel calmer.

I challenge you to spend 3-5 minutes deep belly breathing in a quiet and

comfortable place either seated or lying down.

Place one hand on your lower belly and slowly breathe in through your nose and try to get your lower abdomen to rise.  Slowly exhale out through your nose.During each breath be mindful of how the air comes in and down to your hand that is resting your lower abdomen. Feel it rise and fall as the air comes in and out of your lungs.