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Alternative Medicine Healthy Living Real Food

Gallbladder Disease and The Standard American Diet – My Personal Account


Do you suffer from gallbladder pain or gallstones? Many doctors suggest eating a so-called “low-fat” diet, taking drugs, and if trouble persists, having the gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy).

The biggest problem with this advise is that doctors will tell patients that something is actually wrong with the organ itself – that it’s malfunctioning, and needs to be removed.

That’s only part of the story. Most of the time, they completely fail to mention the cause of gallbladder disease in the first place. Patients are told the terrible news – that gallstones usually cannot be avoided.

The other organ doctors are fond of harvesting, which we are told we can do without, is the appendix. Again, no one mentions to patients why their appendix is failing. Although you might be told that for some unknown reason, the appendix becomes clogged with toxins over time – and there is nothing you can do about it.

But actually, this is not the case.

The purpose of the gallbladder and appendix

Like the appendix, which has finally been acknowledged recently by modern medicine to actually “having a function” in supporting the endocrine and immune systems, the gallbladder has long been thought to be an organ we can live without.

The appendix is actually critical in the storage of beneficial bacteria which support digestion and immune system health. If you’ve had your appendix removed, you will need to eat fermented and cultured foods regularly to maintain this proper balance of good flora to support every aspect of your health.

Research shows that removal of this important organ can actually lead to health issues including diarrhea from constant bile dripping into the small intestine which can lead to colon and bowel cancer. Losing an organ like the gallbladder causes the body to be less efficient at digesting fats. The result is almost always malnourishment since contained in fats are some of the most nutrient-dense elements present in foods.

Appendicitis, too, is a signal from the body that something is out of balance with the digestive tract, and toxins from the food you are eating are getting trapped in the appendix which can cause pain, nausea, fever, abdominal cramping and eventual perforation or rupture and death due to infection, if not abated.

Dealing with gallbladder trouble and appendicitis

As someone who knows first hand about gallbladder problems (cholecystitis) and appendicitis, I spent much of my life completely unaware that I was developing  both of these conditions. In 2000 I was admitted to the hospital for severe lower right quadrant pain in my abdominal area during my seventh month of pregnancy, the doctors performed an ultrasound and determined that I had gallstones.

This was news to me, and I had never had any health problems (so I thought) or indication of any issues like this.  A few days later, my son was born prematurely. The doctors still did not know what was wrong with me. My abdomen became hugely distended and did not go back to normal size after giving birth. I endured various tests and procedures, including a CT scan and colonoscopy. But still they did not know what was wrong, and I was getting sicker. I knew somehow I might die, but it seemed as though nothing could be done about it. My midwife didn’t even try to reassure me everything would be okay, I can just barely recall, from my drug-induced stupor of morphine I was put on for pain during the near three-week period I was in the hospital (during pregnancy, no less).

After a week of pain, tests, and hospitalization, I was sent home. The next day, I went into labor without warning early Wednesday morning, December 6, 2000. After rushing me to the hospital, my husband and father were told by the nursing staff that I was “nine centimeters dilated” and birth was eminent. My son was born vaginally at 31 weeks of age, and sent immediately to the NICU. He was strong and healthy despite his prematurity, but was given surfactant to help his lungs to keep from collapsing. The doctors were perplexed and had no way of knowing why I went into labor early.

Days went by and my distended abdomen kept getting bigger and bigger, but the doctors were still scratching their heads. On Friday night,  three days after the birth of my son, the doctors decided to do exploratory surgery. I had perforated appendicitis, or a ruptured appendix. No one knew how long it had been since the rupture, but my entire abdominal cavity was filled with bacteria and pus.

After the surgery, I spent over a week in the hospital. One of the nurses commented that I should watch out for gallbladder problems. Having had no experience with this, I didn’t know what that meant and she really didn’t explain it to me. Sure enough, the day I came home from the hospital I began to experience gallbladder “attacks”. Besides the ruptured appendix and pain leading up to it, this was one of the most unpleasant and painful things I have ever felt in my life.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the gallbladder problem and appendix rupture were related. I also didn’t know that there are natural treatments I could have done to counteract the problem through diet and detoxification. The problem was, I believed the nonsense touted by mainstream medical rhetoric, and had really no clue that low-fat diets and staying away from natural fats and red meats were actually very dangerous. I had been following a low-fat diet off and on for years, and eating a lot of refined, processed foods and carbohydrates. And I drank my fair share of alcohol as well.

Because I didn’t know any better, I consented to having my gallbladder removed seven months after my son was born. I thought my troubles would be over, but I was wrong. I was told once again to avoid fats or I would experience digestive discomfort including bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. The funny part was, I had been experiencing loose stools for years, and sometimes it was diarrhea, but I assumed it was “normal”. For a few months, I tried to avoid the things the doctor told me to – like dairy and poultry. But it was so hard because I loved those things and had eaten them for a good portion of my life. I hadn’t ever been a big red meat eater, but I loved dairy and poultry.


As I said before, the side-effects of having your gallbladder removed can be miserable. I mentioned malnutrition from mal-absorption of fats. In my case I also had a list of other symptoms a mile long which also included fatigue, chronic nausea, blood sugar problems, panic attacks, and insomnia, depression, rapid heart rate, and general malaise.

I remember the words of the doctors, saying that any foods high in fat content would make my problem worse – but I had eaten varying degrees of low-fat diets for years, and yet I was still having this problem. So this advice just didn’t make sense. And now that my gallbladder was out, my problems were only getting worse.

The cause of digestive problems

Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience: when doctors tell patients they should avoid fats and eat a “low-fat” diets, what they fail to mention is that the Standard American Diet includes plenty of industrial fats that are altered and full of dangerous chemicals.

So if your gallbladder is diseased by fats, it’s due to years of eating these kinds of foods. If you are or were eating real fats from healthy animal products that come from animals on pasture (meats, animal fats, and dairy), safe source seafood, and oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil from clean sources, the chance of having gallbladder disease or digestive problems in general would be much lower. In fact, it would probably be reduced to almost nothing unless you had some congenital or family hereditary factor, which, even at the admission of most medical doctors, amounts to between only 10 and 20 percent of your chances. This just goes to prove that most disease is lifestyle related!

It is true that gallstones develop over many years’ time. But more people are developing gallbladder disease, and at younger ages, than anytime before in history. The mounting obesity epidemic has been tied to this condition, and has been blamed as one of the reasons for the increase of the rise of this disease.

Deposits in the gallbladder are a result of poor dietary habits and are caused by a buildup of unwanted substance and toxins from the diet such as from processed foods. I can’t emphasize enough that lifestyle habits are the best deterrent against gallstone development as well as many other illnesses and diseases.

My resolution

After seeing several doctors and avoiding being put on anti-anxiety medications ad nauseum – which was always their recommendation, I decided I had to find another solution. I wasn’t getting better and nothing they were telling me to do was improving my situation. I started seeing some alternative practitioners, one of which ended up being my next door neighbor, a nutritional therapist.

Of all the practitioners I’ve seen, my neighbor and the woman who was her instructor in school were the most helpful to me. I’ve been able to eliminate 95 percent of my health issues just from seeing those two women. I did have the help of some colon hydro therapists and a Chinese Medicine Doctor as well, for which I am eternally grateful to for their amazing knowledge and insight. And of course, I was absolutely astonished to learn as my body would tell me over just a short period of time, that real food does most of the healing.

Here are some of my tips if you experience chronic gallbladder disease:

  • Make an appointment to see a qualified health care practitioner who knows how to treat gallstones holistically. That might be a medical doctor, but be cautious of any medical doctor who wants to perform surgery or put you on medication without first trying natural treatment. Other good choices would be a naturopath, nutritional therapist, or Doctor of Chinese Medicine. He or she can recommend the proper dietary supplements and detoxification strategies necessary to bring your gallbladder back to health. Remember, in many cases a malfunctioning gallbladder is a result of improper diet and lack of necessary nutrients in the diet to keep the gallbladder functioning properly.
  • Eat a healthy diet with real food and healthy fats – but add them back in slowly and incrementally. When you have been on a low-fat diet for a period of time, it can take your body some time to adjust to real fats again. Be sure to include whole, raw dairy, natural, grass-fed meats and poultry that do not contain hormones, antibiotics, or chemicals, eggs from hens on pasture, organ meats, healthy fats and oils like butter, ghee, tallow, lard, olive oil, coconut oil, and fish.
  • Maintain some regular activity that you enjoy that gets you out of a sitting position. But don’t overdo it. During the first 6 months of healing, stick to walking. Vigorous exercise can actually cause adrenal exhaustion when your body is not well. However, exercise does help to maintain healthy insulin levels and benefits your pancreas, liver, and gallbladder by helping to regulate blood sugar levels and metabolic rates. Gradually, as your body heals, you can increase your exercise activity if you wish.
  • Many gallbladder “cleanses” and flushes are useful in eliminating gallbladder issues. Read My Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse Experience. This cleanse is based on the book by Andreas Moritz, The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse. It can definitely be beneficial, but may not be right for everyone. It also requires multiple sessions to remove stones from the liver and gallbladder which are causing health symptoms. It is recommended to consult a knowledgeable health care practitioner to guide you through this process and to use the correct type of flush.
  • Remember that low-fat and non-fat foods and dietary habits will eventually cause failure of the gallbladder, other digestive organs, and overall health.  Avoid industrial oils like canola, cottonseed, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower oils, and margarine or shortening. Polyunsaturated fats like these are highly processed, subjected to high heat temperatures during processing, and are rancid on the shelves when you buy them.
  • If you have already had your gallbladder removed, you must take special care to eat a healthy diet with plenty of real foods – including real fats like meat, poultry, fish, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, tallow, and lard. You may also need bitters, bile salts, hydrochloric acid to help regulate bile production, clean out the digestive tract, and get stomach acid production up again. These supplements should be taken only if you need them, and not forever. It’s also imperative to take a good digestive enzyme. I’ve used many enzymes, and the ones I’ve found which actually work are Enzyme Solutions developed by Dr. Loomis, the original developer of enzymes. There are many different types, so it is important to find a knowledgeable practitioner who can test to see which ones you need, and you will change from one enzyme to another over time.  For more information on enzymes, visit the Loomis Enzymes web site.
  • If you are having gallbladder issues and other problems, I highly recommend the GAPS diet from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. I started this diet in May of 2011 and it has done wonders for my health. Not everyone needs GAPS, but it is a protocol that can definitely help a variety of health issues, and it helped me.
  • Gallbladder removal can have side-effects, and they are different for each person. They include diarrhea, digestive pain or distension, weight gain, pancreatitis, and if not managed carefully, diseases like cancer can also develop.  Remember, gallbladder disease is a symptom of an underlying issue in the digestive tract such as poor digestion, toxicity in the gut, or liver disease.  Although I never experienced weight gain or pancreatitis, some people do. Gallbladder disease is a symptom of underlying problems which cause poor digestion, toxicity in the gut, and many different health problems.  This occurs from maintaining poor dietary habits and lifestyle, and stress.
  • Probiotics are also essential to maintain proper good bacteria levels in your digestive tract and immune system.  Probiotics both from real foods and a good supplement are essential to rebuild the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Your gut becomes unhealthy from maintaining poor dietary habits and lifestyle, and stress. I recommend GUTPro, HLC by Pharmax, Custom Probiotics, Prescript-Assist, or BioKult to accomplish the repopulation of beneficial flora in your gut. It’s important to be careful about which probiotics you use because most products on the market have other ingredients you don’t want in your body, and claims made on the labels about strains and amounts of bacteria are often false.

I definitely want to encourage you to do some research and become educated about your digestive health, which affects every aspect of your health. One of the first steps to gaining knowledge about this important organ system and seeing results in healing is to do your research and start eating a healthy diet – complete with real, traditional foods that include plenty of healthy fats.

The only reason I am here giving you this message today is because I finally stopped listening to doctors who weren’t listening to me, and found health professionals who did listen and helped me to get on the right track. It is a sad state of affairs when so many people are unknowing about real food, they have to actually pay a health professional to teach them how to eat real food, which should be a common sense. Unfortunately in the modern world, that isn’t the case.

Processed and industrial foods are so pervasive, and we receive so many confusing messages about what’s healthy to eat, it’s no wonder our health condition is in the state it is.

Now, I’m not saying to go out and pay a health care professional to tell you what to eat. I’m only relaying my experience since I was completely clueless about what I was eating and how it was making me sick. I’m maybe a little more thick-headed than some people, and it took that event to cause change in my health. Also, by the time that point came around, I was so ill and malnourished, I needed a jump-start to get me back on track.

Maybe you’re not in that same condition, but regardless, use available tools to inform yourself and make an educated decision. If you find a medical doctor that can give you the results you want and are satisfied with, that’s great. I only know that my experience wasn’t that way and I found great success with alternative practitioners and real food.

Have you had an experience with gallbladder or any other digestive disease or issue that you’d like to share? And if so, were you able to remedy your problem with natural foods, herbs, supplements, and alternative care? Or, did you find a medical doctor who was able to help you out?

Here’s the full story of my health issues that led to my decision to switch to a traditional diet, once and for all.

Want more information about alternatives for gallbladder health? 

My liver and gallbladder miracle cleanse experience - if you have trouble digesting fats, have gallbladder issues, or have had your gallbladder removed, this post has information about performing a liver gallbladder cleanse to help rid your body of stones and other toxins that can negatively affect gallbladder function, digestion, and overall health

The gallbladder survival guide - Tim Boyd (Weston A. Price Foundation)

Seven tips to enhance digestion…and get the most out of the food you eat – Lori Lipinski (Weston A. Price Foundation)

Suggested reading:

Digestive Wellness – Liz Lipski

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by James Balch, M.D., and Phyllis Balch

The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse: An All-Natural, At-Home Flush to Purify and Rejuvenate Your Body, Andreas Moritz (note – the only thing I don’t agree with in this book is Moritz’s vegetarian philosophy. Just plug in all the healthy fats and animal food you’d eat in place of what he says.)

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays carnival. Please visit her site and read the other real food posts listed there.