The last few months of 2011 were indeed the season to be jolly! We were jolly all right. For Americans, It started with Thanksgiving and all the trimmings that go with it, then we had the leftovers. We just barely recovered from Thanksgiving when the rest of the holiday celebrations got under way. It seems like all these meals just never seemed to digest and then the next feast is laid in front of us and that feeling of being uncomfortably full seemed to last forever. Throw in traveling during the holidays, which upsets our internal clocks and then the stress of it all adds to the digestion anxiety. Exposure to a different holiday diet, perhaps in a different locale or country, usually leads to eating something we shouldn’t and this stress is compounded by knowing that while we feast there are all too many people the world over who have no food at all and so we eat what is put in front of us without being entirely conscious of its consequences in our bodies.
Every year most of us make New Years resolutions to never do this type of eating again but temptations are always all around us and for some of us our willpower just goes out the window when the stress in our lives mounts up again and comfort foods beckon!
In order to have some real questions to ask ourselves after we have indulged, it is important to review some symptoms. And because I have so much to share with you all on this subject matter, for everyone’s convenience, I am going to break this Celestial Musing blog up into two parts. (Stay tuned for Part Two: Best & Worst Foods for Gallbladder Disease)
In Part One, I am going to ask you some serious questions to help you determine if that case of acute indigestion was indeed a dreaded gallbladder attack and also review what the gallbladder actually is.
What is the gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped muscular sack that acts as a storage tank for bile. The bile is made in the liver by liver cells and is sent through tiny ducts or canals to the duodenum (small intestine) and to the gallbladder. The gallbladder stores the bile to have it available in larger quantities for secretion when a meal is eaten. The ingestion of food and especially fats cause the release of a hormone, cholecystokinin, (CCK) which in turn signals the relaxation of the valve at the end of the common bile duct (the sphincter of oddi) which lets the bile enter the small intestine. It also signals the contraction of the gallbladder which squirts the concentrated liquid bile into the small intestine where it helps with the emulsification or breakdown of fats in the meal.
What causes gallbladder attacks?
The pain can come from a stone making its way down the biliary duct or bile tube toward the duodenum of the small intestine. It can also be caused by a backup of bile in the gallbladder (with or without stones) that causes it to swell from fullness, causing discomfort. Or it can come from an infected gallbladder itself that becomes inflamed, known as cholecystitis.
That’s what’s happening when you are having a gallbladder attack, but the underlying causes of a stone forming or bile thickening or low-functioning gallbladder are important to understand in order to heal the root of the problem. Hypothyroidism is a major contributing cause to gallbladder disease of all kinds. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism and when it is not working optimally, metabolism in general slows down. Your digestion may be slower, the bowels may be slower, gallbladder emptying may be slower, even thinking may be slower. Food allergies are also major contributors to gallbladder disease. They cause a histamine release that can cause excessive fluid in the bile ducts, causing them to back up. It is important to isolate those specific foods by eliminating them and introducing them back in one at a time and watch for reactions, so that you know just what is causing the problem.