So you think you need . . . a gallbladder operation:What to do instead

* Have your cholesterol checked and switch to a low-cholesterol diet, if necessary, to avoid gallstone development.


* If you need to, lose weight – but gradually, as this will avoid the release of tissue cholesterol that occurs with rapid weight loss (Am J Surg, 1993; 165: 541-8).


* Avoid surgery if your stones are ‘silent’ or you can tolerate the symptoms. Of 135 asymptomatic patients, only 10 per cent developed symptoms and 7 per cent required an operation. Of 556 symptomatic patients, only 44 per cent had an operation because of persistent symptoms (Ann Surg, 1985; 202: 59-63).


* Drink plenty of water to avoid overconcentration of bile.


* Check for food intolerances and eliminate the offending foods from your diet.


* Take regular aerobic exercise (Med Hypoth, 2003; 60: 143-7), which also has a beneficial effect on abnormally high levels of insulin, often associated with gallbladder disease.


* Change your diet. Avoid processed carbohydrates and sugars, and fried foods, as well as foods rich in cholesterol, and monosaturated and saturated fatty acids. Eat more fibre and calcium-rich foods (Am J Surg, 1993; 165: 541-8).


* Small meals at regular intervals will reduce gallbladder storage time.


* Maintain adequate nutrient levels – through diet or supplements – of vitamins C and E, sulphur-containing amino acids, beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium and folates (Clin Chim Acta, 2004; 349: 157-65).


* Avoid the Pill, which is associated with cholesterol gallstone formation (Acta Manila Ser A, 1976; 15: 25-33).


* Take herbs such as turmeric, Oregon grape, Bupleurum and coin grass, which can reduce gallbladder inflammation and relieve liver congestion (Med Hypoth, 2003; 60: 143-7).


* Supplement with milk thistle as silymarin (its active ingredient) may help reduce gallstones. But do not self-treat – seek the guidance of a complementary health practitioner.


* Switch from animal to vegetable protein, as this can significantly lower the risk of gallstones (Am J Epidemiol., 2004; 160: 11-8).


* Eat more nuts, of any variety, as they may protect against gallstones. Women who ate at least 5 oz/week of nuts were much less likely to need a cholecystectomy than those who ate less than 1 oz/week (Am J Clin Nutr, 2004; 80: 76-81).


* If you’ve had an attack of cholecystitis, take preventative action as such an attack is an indication that you already have one or more gallstones

What Doctors Don't Tell You Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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