Millions of people develop gallstones each year. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, between 10% to 15% of all Americans have a gallstone at any given time. The good news is that four out of five people suffering from a gallstone will never experience symptoms. For those 20% who do experience symptoms, though, it can cause severe abdominal pain and digestive discomfort. But you can lower your risk of developing gallstones by following these tips.
#1) Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a key risk factor in the formation of gallstones. The website Obesity Action explains that about one-quarter of obese adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher show signs of gallstones. If you are overweight or obese, your liver will produce an excessive amount of cholesterol that ends up in the bile. Once in the bile, the cholesterol encourages the formation of hard, solid masses in the gallbladder. To reduce your risk of gallstones, work to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
#2) Follow a High-Fat Diet
Following a high-fat diet may further protect you from gallstones. One study found that people who consumed a high-fat diet were less likely to develop gallstones than people who consumed a low-fat diet. It’s a common assumption that fatty foods increase the risk of gallstones by promoting the production of cholesterol in the liver. It’s not fat that causes increased production of cholesterol, however; it’s carbohydrates. By consuming less carbs and more fat — choose unsaturated fats for the greatest benefit — you’ll have a lower risk of gallstones. With that said, too much saturated fat or trans fat can increase your risk of gallstones. Therefore, you should avoid trans fat and limit your consumption of saturated fat to about 13 grams per day.
#3) Eat More Fiber
Of course, eating more fiber can protect you from gallstones by flushing waste from your digestive symptom. According to NutritionFacts.org, roughly 97% of Americans don’t consume enough fiber in their diet. Unfortunately, this leaves millions of people in the United States at risk for gallstones. Fiber, specifically insoluble fiber, reduces the amount of bile acids produced by the liver. With lower levels of bile acid, gallstones are less likely to form. Including more foods high in insoluble fiber can help you avoid the oftentimes painful symptoms of gallstones.
#4) Include More Lecithin in Your Diet
Lecithin, a type of natural fat, has been shown to reduce the risk of gallstones. The belief is that lecithin helps to regulate cholesterol levels in the blood. As your LDL and HDL cholesterol harmonizes, less cholesterol is absorbed by the liver, resulting in a lower risk of gallstones. You can find lecithin in a variety of foods and beverages, including milk, beef, fish, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, soybeans, kidney beans, wheat, tomatoes and potatoes.
#5) Drink Coffee
There’s no better way to start your workday than by drinking a cup of coffee. With its rich flavor, pleasing aroma and kick of caffeine, coffee has become one of the world’s most popular beverages. But it may offer another benefit that’s largely unnoticed by the population: gallstone prevention. One report suggests that coffee causes the gallbladder to contract. As your gallbladder essentially shrinks, it’s total capacity for stored bile acid decreases, thereby lowering the risk of gallstones. Just remember to limit the use of sweeteners and creamers. Filling your coffee with too much sugar or dairy creamer can turn this otherwise healthy beverage into a not-so-healthy drink.
#6) Eat More Nuts
Whether you prefer peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios or cashews, try to include more nuts in your diet. A study conducted by Harvard University researchers in 2004 found that people who consumed at least 5 ounces of nuts per week were 30% less likely to develop gallstones than people who consumed less than 1 ounce per month. Harvard researchers explain that nuts are high in fat, specifically the good type: unsaturated. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat regulate cholesterol levels by reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). As your cholesterol levels normalize, gallstones are less likely to form.
#7) Limit Consumption of Eggs
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, but eating too many may leave you susceptible to gallstones. While there’s no concrete evidence linking the consumption of eggs to gallstones, some medical experts advice people suffering from gallstones — as well as those at risk for gallstones — to avoid consuming too many eggs. A single egg contains about two-thirds of the cholesterol recommended daily for adults. Dietary cholesterol like the kind found in eggs doesn’t necessarily convert to blood/body cholesterol. Nonetheless, several studies have shown that people who consume eggs and other high-cholesterol foods are more likely to develop gallstones. If you’re going to eat eggs, diversify your diet with other sources of protein like beef, chicken, pork and fish.
If you suffer from gallstones, contact us today. Atlanta Chiro and Wellness offers a variety of services that can help treat and prevent digestive disorders like gallstones.Share