Gallstones are tricky. They can be extremely painful, or they may exist in your gallbladder for years without causing any trouble at all.
Symptoms of gallstones are miserable! They include sudden pain in the abdomen, back pain, pain in the shoulder and nausea and vomiting.
So what causes them in the first place and can they be avoided?
Gallstones that hurt feel like they are huge, but that’s not necessarily true. They can range in size from smaller than a grain of rice to almost the size of a lemon.
This is amazing considering that they are nothing but digestive juices that have condensed and hardened.
Why they form is not clear. Some doctors think it's because of too much cholesterol in the bile. Others think it's due to a chemical that's made when blood cells break down. There's also a theory that the gallbladder isn’t emptying the way it is supposed to.
Whatever the reason, there are 4 things that have been shown to cut your risk of getting them.
4 Ways to Lower Your Risk of getting Gallstones
1. Lose some weight.
There is no doubt that being overweight has been linked to a higher risk of gallstones forming. Obesity increases the risk even more.
The tricky thing is that you have to be smart about how you go about losing weight. If you lose weight too fast or yo-yo dieting, it can actually lead to a greater chance of sickness.
Work on losing about a pound or two each week.
2. Eat a healthy diet
There are some foods you can eat to help prevent them. Too many unhealthy fats from bad oils or fried foods are linked to a higher risk of getting gallstones.
Eating healthy fats like avocados, flaxseed and especially fish oils have been shown to lower the risk.
Other foods that are good for preventing gallstones are:
- High-fiber foods
- Fruits and vegetables
- Alcohol (in moderation)
- Coffee (just be sure it's organic)
In one study, women who ate at least one serving of peanuts a day had a 20% lower chance of having their gallbladder removed compared to women who rarely ate peanuts or peanut butter.
3. Be mindful of medicines
Because gallstones may be caused by cholesterol, drugs that lower HDL are often recommended.
There is also some evidence that women may be at risk of getting gallstones if they are on hormone therapy or high-dose birth control pills. If you're concerned about your risk, talk to your doctor about adjusting the amount of estrogen you’re taking.
4. Get some exercise
Exercise should always be at the top of your list for ways to improve your health, and that’s true when it comes to gallstones too. When you get enough exercise you help yourself lose weight.
So make sure that you are getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days a week.
There are some who believe that there's nothing you can do to prevent gallstones because your risk lies in your genetics. Even if that is the case, taking the steps above to lower your risks will only serve to improve your overall health. So, what do you have to lose?
I actually took it a step further and did a liver and gallbladder flush. Here's what happened.
If you think you may have gallstones, make sure you see your doctor right away. If left alone, the symptoms will get much worse and may lead to fever, yellow skin and eyes, and pain that’s so bad you can’t sit still.
Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Please share this with your loved ones and I invite you to leave a comment below. Have you experienced pain from gallstones?