An estimated 20 million Americans have gallbladder disease. So, what is this disease that affects so many of us? Well, the purpose of the gallbladder is to store bile produced by the liver, which aids in the digestion and absorption of fats. In gallbladder disease, bile in the gallbladder becomes concentrated and thickens, forming inflammation, infection, gallstones or obstruction of bile flow.
Dr. Juan Omana, general surgeon at Florida Hospital Kissimmee, explains there are four F’s of gallbladder disease that help you know if you are at risk, and they are:
Let’s break them down.
Female: Gallbladder disease and gallstones are most common in women due to the high levels of estrogen.
Forty: Forty is an indicator of the premenopausal time for women, bringing on spikes of estrogen levels.
Fertile: Women who are pregnant have higher levels of hormones or estrogen, therefore increasing the risk for this disease.
Fat: Being overweight or losing weight too quickly can lead to gallbladder disease. People who are overweight have more cholesterol in their bile, and most gallstones are deposits of cholesterol.
“Preventing gallstones is nothing that a few lifestyle changes can’t fix,” says Dr. Omana. In other words, what Dr. Omana tells his patients is to eat healthier and exercise regularly.
Foods rich in calcium, fiber, antioxidants, and whole grains all help lower the risk.
Some foods that will help lower the risk for gallbladder disease include: fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, caffeinated coffee and artichokes.
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