Research suggests that gallstones are more prevalent in westernized countries than elsewhere. Primitive people have few gallstones while societies who have more food available are prone to develop them. It is known that too many calories and fat in the diet, obesity and too little fiber is responsible. Treatments vary from diet and medication to surgery.
Among middle aged and older Americans about 20% of women and 10% of men have gallstones. In some populations it’s worse. As many as 70% of Puma Indians aged 25 or older have gallstones. Growing older brings a higher risk of gallstones and the middle aged and older are not the only ones effected. Others likely to have gallstones are, obese women, American Indians from the southwestern states, diabetics and those with inflammation of the intestinal tract.
Gallstones are common among Westernized societies but are rare among primitive societies. They used to be uncommon in Japan, but now are on the rise. Lifestyle obviously plays a role in having gallstones. If you have diabetes and a family history of gallstones, and you take drugs that make gallstone formation more likely, you will probably have gallstone trouble. Some but not all gallstones are preventable. Experts say the food we eat has a major impact on bile composition. Australian scientist Suggs Newton found that a group who developed gallstones before age 50 ate more calories than those who did not develop stones.
All fats are suspect, and low fiber intake effects bile composition in a way that favors development of gallstones. Heavy consumption of sugar seems to favor developing gallstones. Excessive calories and dietary fat are widely accepted as trouble makers, although all research does not agree.
Doctors have a variety of treatments available. If you are overweight your doctor will recommend that you lose weight. Medication is another option, and so it surgery. No one diet is perfect, but a diet that drastically restricts fat will be on the agenda. Other irritants, such as spicy foods should be avoided. Your particular sensitivity may call for trial and error. The same treatment doesn’t work for everyone.