Gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) is the number one abdominal surgery in America today, but problems may begin years before the manifestation of biliary sludge, also known as gallbladder sludge or bile sludge. (12)
Bile sludge is basically when the bile becomes more thick and viscous and congests inside of the gallbladder. The sludge is a collection of mucus and particulate solids—usually cholesterol crystals, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium salts. (2)
When the bile becomes too thick, it can alter the contractibility of the gallbladder. While bile sludge often clears up on its own, in many cases, it can linger for some time resulting in digestive-related concerns. (1,2)
In one study that followed more than 100 patients with bile sludge for 21 months, almost 25 percent of them developed more significant liver/gallbladder health concerns.
According to Ayurveda, when toxins and impurities are recycled back into the liver from the intestines via the enteric cycle, an upward flow of digestion occurs, rather than a downward digestive flow.
This backflow of impurities may congest the gallbladder and bile ducts, affecting their ability to properly function.
The four major functions of the bile are:
- Support the downward movement of digestion and healthy elimination.
- Buffer stomach acid; allowing optimal stomach acid to break down challenging foods.
- Emulsify fats in the diet, as well as fat-soluble toxins from the environment in our food.
- Act as a Pac-man to gobble up impurities in the liver and in the intestinal villi.
If any of these four functions are compromised, digestive concerns are likely to ensue.
8 Secrets to Healthy Bile Flow and Liver/Gallbladder Function
The key to maintaining healthy bile flow and liver/gallbladder function is, of course, diet.
Cut Out Processed Foods & Eat More Plant-Based
Avoiding processed food, processed vegetable oils, trans fats and refined sugars are supportive for healthy gallbladder function, as is a predominately plant-based diet. (3)
Eat Cholagogue-Rich Foods
Cholagogue-rich foods support healthy gallbladder function and bile flow. The main cholagogues are:
A blend of beet, celery and apple juice with cinnamon with breakfast daily is a great way to boost bile flow and support healthy gallbladder function.
Take a few drops of peppermint oil in water with meals or sipping peppermint tea with a meal has been shown to support better digestive health and gallbladder function. (4)
Raw or Cooked Beets
Yes, beets again. Beets are important foods for the liver and function of the gallbladder. They can be raw, cooked, or grated into a salad. Studies show beets are rich in antioxidants that protect the liver and boost the production of beneficial liver enzymes, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione. (6)
Beets have also been shown to attach to the bile and escort it, with all the gobbled-up (Pac-Man’d) toxins in tow, to the toilet. (7)
Numerous studies suggest that fenugreek may be one of the most powerful herbs for liver, gallbladder, and digestive health. Fenugreek works by removing cholesterol out of the bile and increasing the bile acid concentration by almost four times. (8,9)
The benefits of cinnamon have been praised in Ayurveda for thousands of years. The liver and pancreas are sister organs, and in 91 percent of the population, the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts are joined—suggesting that you cannot address one without affecting the other. (10)
Cinnamon, in Ayurveda, is a scraping herb that helps support detox and address congestion in the body. It is well-known to support healthy blood sugar and lipid regulatory function, which depends on both healthy pancreatic and liver/gallbladder function. (11)
Of course, eating the bile-moving foods I mention above is key, but if such a diet is not possible, or you feel you need a better bile flow boost, consider supplementing with LifeSpa’s Beet Cleanse. I formulated this with great success to support healthy bile flow and gallbladder function.