What is the gallbladder? What happens when it is removed?
How does this affect your health and your diet?
WHAT IS THE GALLBLADDER? The gallbladder is a small organ beneath the liver, on the right side of the abdomen. The liver produces bile, a fluid used in the digestion of fats, and the bile is then stored in the gallbladder where it becomes up to five times more concentrated. When you eat foods containing fat, this concentrated bile is released from the gallbladder into the small intestine. Another organ, the pancreas, releases a digestive enzyme called lipase, and the concentrated bile acts on the fat in a way that allows the lipase to break it down for absorption through the small intestine.
WHAT CAUSES GALLBLADDER DISEASE? Gallbladder disease is almost always caused by poor nutrition. Unbalanced consumption of foods with high fat or acid content (like soda, sugar, processed foods, fried foods, red meat, cheese) can lead to the formation of gallstones or cause other gallbladder disease.
Lack of exercise can also be a contributing factor. Exercise acts as a massage of one’s internal organs, stimulating them and helping fluids to circulate. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to sluggish organ function. In the gallbladder, this leads to the bile thickening into sludge and the formation gallstones.
A NON-VITAL ORGAN? Since humans are able to survive without a gallbladder, it is called a “non-vital” organ, and removal by a relatively simple surgical technique has become the common way to treat gallbladder disease. However, as explained above, the gallbladder serves an important function in the digestion of food and absorption of vital nutrients. So while you can live without it, its removal will have a profound effect on your health for the rest of your life. Removal of any organ should never be taken casually, no matter how routine the surgical procedure may be considered.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT IS REMOVED? Since bile is produced in the liver, you will still have some. But it will be in a more diluted form, so you won’t be able to digest fats as effectively. Certain vitamins (A, D, E, K) are fat soluble, which means they are dissolved in fat. Without proper digestion of fats, a person will become deficient in these vitamins. This can contribute to numerous other health problems, including a compromised immune system and cancer.