Healthy Bile, Healthy Life

There is a lot of talk around gut health right now, and rightly so. Much of the awareness is around nutrition and feeding our microbiome with the right foods, pre and probiotics, however, there is an organ that functions with our liver to support gut health – the gallbladder!

GUT HEALTH = GALLBLADDER & BILE

The gallbladder, the liver and bile form the ‘Biliary System’ which has its own microbiome of positive and negative bacteria, just like our intestines. Therefore, when considering gut health this system plays an important role, especially in digestion due to its close contact with the intestinal mucosa.

GALLBLADDER FUNCTION

The gallbladder is a small muscular sack that stores bile. The bile is made in the liver, secreted via liver cells (hepatocytes) and is sent through tiny ducts or canals to the duodenum (small intestine) and to the gallbladder. The function of the gallbladder is to store the bile (in between meals) to have it available in larger quantities for secretion when a meal is eaten.

Bile is the substance that performs the functions the body needs. However, the gallbladder also contributes important functions in maintaining proper bile flow and in making the bile more efficient.

BILE BENEFITS

  • Bile helps with the emulsification or breakdown of fats in the meal.
  • Bile is an antioxidant which helps to remove toxins from the liver. 
  • The formation of bile and its release helps remove cholesterol, absorbs fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), aids drug detoxification, plus lipid & glucose regulation. Bile acid also has receptors for vitamin D3.
  • Bile and Bile acid metabolism modifies the gut microbiota ecosystem.
  • Affecting metabolic function, energy homoeostasis, inflammation control and nervous system regulation.
  • Good functioning gallbladder and bile production assists to decrease risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
  • Bile salts (sodium/potassium in bile acid) help dissolve cholesterol making it soluble. Effective cholesterol detoxification is required for stable cholesterol levels and heart health.
  • Bile salts also plays a role with estrogen utilisation and clearance, reducing the risk of too much circulating estrogen.
  • The gut microbiome plays a role in regulating the composition of bile.
  • Bile affects the type of gut bacteria present.
  • The secretion of enzymes from the pancreas also stimulates bile production in the liver.

THYROID INVOLVEMENT

Our thyroid hormones also assist to regulate bile release. This connection may be associated with bowel irregularity sometimes associated with an underactive thyroid.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF ‘BILIARY’ UNDERFUNCTION

A common sign is fat maldigestion, seen in your stool (bowel motion) such as: signs of fat globules sitting on surface of toilet bowl after flushing, pale & unformed, may be frothy in texture. (may be greasy or fatty in appearance)

Nausea, vomiting, pain between the shoulder blades, chronic gas and bloating, itchy skin, yellowing of the skin (associated with liver), constipation and diarrhoea, abdominal pain, light or clay coloured stool, frequent headaches, loss of hunger, indigestion after meals, dry skin and hair, underactive thyroid, intolerable to fatty foods, darker colour under the eyes, diagnosed fatty liver, gall stones.

HELPFUL HERBAL MEDICINE (requires prescription)

Cholagogue – assists to Increase the release of stored bile from the gallbladder

Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Choloretics – assists to increase the production of bile by the liver

Greater celandine (Chelidonian majus)
St Mary’s Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus)


SUPPORTIVE FOODS

  • Swedish bitters before a meal
  • Apple cider vinegar with or before meal
  • Beetroot, artichoke, green leafy vegetables, cucumber, swiss chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, celery, carrots, ginger, turmeric, rocket, endive, watercress.
  • Peppermint tea
  • Add lecithin to your diet (helps support healthy cholesterol)
  • Chew food slowly, sit to eat, try to avoid constant snacking, eat balanced meals with good fats, carbohydrates, proteins and fibre (fruit and veg)
  • Avoid larger meals as this makes it harder for digestion and release of bile

Give your gallbladder a hug, feed it well, love your liver and stimulate bile flow!

Be empowered and move towards healthy ageing!

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