I remember the day that my doctor called me and said, “You have gallbladder disease. What it’s doing is making it hard for you to digest not just fats, but also carbohydrates and protein (basically everything). It’s affecting your gut and thyroid health (20% of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine (T4) is converted into its usable counterpart, T3 in the gut). This means poor digestion and low energy.” And then he said…
“You Will Never Recover Unless You Have Your Gallbladder Removed.”
What he said seemed to make sense. I talked to some of his patients, who told me they had recovered from eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), low energy and digestive issues after getting their gallbladders removed. In each gallbladder he removed, he found thousands of tiny stones that didn’t even come up on the standard tests, so he developed a new test to detect tiny stones.
I had never had surgery before and I was scared. I began looking into the results of gallbladder surgeries. I started with my mother, who had turned yellow (jaundice) and had to have emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder. Several years post removal, her digestion was no better. I went into forums and talked with people several years post-surgery and they reported the same problems… same symptoms. I went to well-respected medical journals and dug deeper. The statistics showed no real improvement after gallbladder removal. And also stated that gallbladder surgery is one of the most unnecessary and over-done surgeries in the US.
So Now What?
I began calling experts in the field of digestion-healing nutrition and found out that if I changed my diet, I could heal my gallbladder and all of my digestive organs. My hopeful side said, “fantastic!” My practical, skeptical, research-minded side said, “yeah, right.”
But I figured it would be less scary to change my diet than to get my gallbladder out and have the same symptoms years later. I went on a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, anti-candida-ish diet. It began to work. Things got better. It was slow, but in the slowness, there were small miracles of recovery that kept building. I began studying with the experts to find out why this was working. I left my corporate job and dove in deep with doctors and nutritionists, studying with the passion of someone awakening to a whole new paradigm of thinking. I called my doctor a year later and told him I had recovered. I was even filmed for a TV show a few years into my recovery called, “The Incurables,” where they talked to all of my doctors, teachers and mentors along my path of recovering from a so-called-incurable illness. The best part was telling my gallbladder doctor that I had recovered and still had my gallbladder. He was astounded. He still didn’t want to believe me (well, I don’t think it will last, he said). Today, it’s now more than a decade after the TV show was filmed. I still have my gallbladder and I no longer have those awful symptoms.
The body is amazing. When we treat it with love and learn how to listen and nourish it in supportive ways, we give it a chance to heal. I honor and respect all paths, including those that require surgery! And at the same time, for those of us who feel called to take an alternative path — for those who have the time (my mother certainly didn’t when she went in for emergency surgery!) and desire to try nourishing their body and mind as the first step — it can and does work!
My hope is that we can start before we get into an emergency situation. Because we are worth it.
Our society makes it sexy to drink Monster energy drinks and buy fast convenience food, and totally unsexy to learn to cook in ways that nourish our bodies and minds. I know it’s hard to find the time, the money, the energy. I know because that’s how I felt. It can help to take tiny, gentle steps.
I didn’t do super-fancy things when I started eating better. I ate whole foods, did my affirmations and listened to my body. None of it was easy in the beginning. I promise though, it gets easier to work with your thoughts when your body is well-nourished and sending happy brain-chemicals up to your brain.
9 Simple, Effective Gallbladder Nutrition Tips
- Reduce common allergens (or better yet, eliminate them) – dairy, sugar, gluten, corn, soy. Focus on a whole foods diet.
- Go organic as much as possible. You will be saving yourself from toxic pesticides, and especially the carcinogenic pesticide, glyphosate, used in GMO foods. Glyphosate kills the minerals in the soil and in our bodies. Mineral deficiency is the root cause of disease (it causes stress and reduces the important enzymes that make the body work).
- Think about your personal care products and household cleaning products. Switch from toxic brands to brands that are more natural. Learn more here and here.
- Consume bone broth – it heals and seals the gut and protects the gut lining from pathogens and toxins. Learn more and get free recipes here.
- Take ox bile with meals – start slowly here. One capsule of Nutricology 125 mg with each meal is a good place to start. It could kick off some detox symptoms which feel a little like a mild gallbladder attack (pain in upper right rib cage, pain between shoulder blades), but that will pass and then you’ll start feeling better. Incidentally, this is something I recommend for people who have had their gallbladder removed as well. Ox bile is important to help with fat digestion in the absence of a gallbladder too. You may find you need the 500 mg capsule over time. Listen to your body or talk to your healthcare practitioner.
- Decide if you need Betain HCl with Pepsin (basically stomach acid) and/or digestive enzymes to aid your digestion. We talk about this in the book, Loving Yourself to Great Health. Here’s a bit about HCl.
- Consider probiotic foods or supplements. Learn more here.
- Don’t discount minerals. Whenever someone has stones, I like to see where their calcium and magnesium levels are, not to mention all minerals. An HTMA is a good idea. Stones anywhere in the body can indicate that calcium is out of whack and running rampant in the body. Calcium oxalate deposits can cause gallstones, kidney stones, cysts and more. If calcium is high, the body goes to your adrenals to grab more magnesium to balance the body. This robs energy from your adrenals and we now face adrenal fatigue. The calcium overload cascade also creates problems for the thyroid and digestion. To learn more about getting an HTMA by mail, along with a nutritional correction consult, read here.
- Listen to your body & trust your body – In the beginning, I could not tolerate probiotics, cruciferous vegetables or bone broth. I started with vegetable broth and then moved to meat stock. When I could finally tolerate bone broth, my digestion improved dramatically. Each step helped though. If I had not listened to my body and wrote off my ongoing symptoms from eating foods that didn’t agree with me as “detox” it would not have helped me heal. Sometimes we have to give our bodies a chance to heal before these concentrated, healing foods can help us. Take your time. Follow your inner guidance system. Trust your body. If you are in pain, like I was, you likely don’t trust your body. Maybe it feels as if your body has betrayed you. See if you can be open to trusting the messages underneath the pain. Your body wants to move back into a place of trust and harmony. It wants to be heard and trusted. Once this happens, it’s even easier to fall in love with yourself. And there’s nothing sweeter than that!
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