For approximately 25% of the millions of people who suffer from regular belly bloating and GI distress, a sluggish gallbladder is to blame. Research is showing cumulative evidence that modern-day factors such as processed foods and skipping meals, are giving rise to a hidden epidemic of gallbladder problems.
The often overlooked gallbladder has just one job, and that is to store bile secreted by the liver and release it into the small intestine, where it breaks down fats and keeps intestinal contents moving along. Sounds simple right? Well, a sub-par performing gallbladder causes bloat, belching, nausea, gas and upper-abdominal pain. Unfortunately, most conventional doctors don’t diagnose this, and often write-off gallbladder symptoms as just your garden variety indigestion, or confuse it with conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which leads to an off-target treatment plan that usually allows the digestive problems to continue.
The good news is that just a few simple dietary tweaks can quickly go to work to cleanse and repair the health and function of your gallbladder, putting an end to those miserable symptoms. Let’s take a look at 3 particular superfoods that can help you beat belly bloat and GI distress in no time.
Dandelion Root Tea
Compounds found in dandelion root tea called sesquiterpenes, optimize gallbladder function in several ways. These substances help break down fatty sludge for a cleansing effect, plus sesquiterpenes have an anti-inflammatory action that protects against swollen bile ducts, which can block the release of bile. For full benefits, drink 2-3 cups of dandelion root tea daily, which can easily be found in any health food market as well as online.
According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 40% of people regularly skip meals, which is a big no-no on many levels, not to mention the fact that skipping meals doubles the risk of gallbladder dysfunction. Why? When food is present in the intestines, it triggers the gallbladder to naturally contract and release bile. In other words, do its job. Long periods of time without food forces the gallbladder to hold onto its contents, triggering stagnation that swells the gallbladder and impair its function. To remedy this, be sure to eat small-sized meals at regular intervals throughout the day, and include a handful of almonds (approximately 10 almonds) to your meals. Almonds, as well as walnuts and cashews, are rich in beneficial fats and magnesium, both of which are proven to stimulate the release of cholecystokinin, a peptide hormone that normalizes gallbladder contractions. Always keep some almonds on hand, this way if you find yourself forced to skip a meal, or eat at a time later than expected, you can just snack on a handful of almonds to keep your digestive system running and functioning at an optimal level.
Diets that are high in processed fats, force cholesterol (the bad kind….yes, there is a good kind, and we would die without it) to collect in the gallbladder, causing bile to thicken and encouraging clogs to form. Your superfood hero to the rescue, is flaxseeds. Flaxseeds have both soluble and insoluble fiber, which has been proven to bind to cholesterol and sweep it through, and OUT, of our bodies via our digestive system, lowering our body’s level of harmful cholesterol levels by up to 15%. An added bonus for women, is that flaxseeds are high in lignans, and studies show that these plant compounds moderate the effects of estrogen, a hormone linked to cholesterol buildup in the gallbladder. For best results, the recommended dose is 2 tablespoons daily. Flaxseed is best kept refrigerated, and only buy in small amounts that you’ll use within 30 days. You can sprinkle ground flaxseed into yogurt and on salads, or even use a flaxseed oil as a healthier dressing for your salad, coupled with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Never heat flaxseed oil, as it is very intolerant to heat.
Adding these 3 superfoods to your daily diet will quickly help to erase digestive distress, especially if caused by gallbladder congestion, but this doesn’t give you license to continue to eat a diet full of processed and fast foods. One does not cancel out the other. Use these food remedies to help bridge your gallbladder and digestive function back to better health.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews