In This Article
What is Bile Sludge?
Gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) is the number one elective abdominal surgery in America today, but problems may begin years before manifestation of biliary sludge, also known as gallbladder sludge or bile sludge.12
Bile sludge is when bile becomes thick and viscous and congests inside the gallbladder. The sludge is a collection of mucus and particulate solids—usually cholesterol crystals, calcium bilirubinate, and calcium salts.2
When bile becomes too thick, it can alter gallbladder contractibility. 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 following more than 100 patients with bile sludge for 21 months, almost 25% developed more significant liver/gallbladder concerns.
According to Ayurveda, when toxins and impurities recycle back into the liver from the intestines via the enteric cycle, digestion flow upward, rather than downward. This backflow of impurities may congest the gallbladder and bile ducts, affecting their ability to properly function.
4 Main Bile Functions
- Support downward movement of digestion and healthy elimination.
- Buffer stomach acid, allowing optimal acid to break down challenging foods.
- Emulsify fats and fat-soluble toxins.
- Act as a Pac-Man to gobble up impurities in the liver and intestinal villi.
If any of these four functions are compromised, digestive concerns are likely to ensue.
8 Secrets to Healthy Bile Flow + 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 oils, trans fats, and refined sugars is 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:
- Bitter Greens
- Beet Smoothies: A blend of beet, celery, apple juice, and cinnamon with breakfast daily is a great way to boost bile flow and support healthy gallbladder function.
- Peppermint: Sipping peppermint tea or taking a few drops of peppermint oil in water with meals has shown to support better digestive health and gallbladder function.4
- Raw or Cooked Beets: Yes, beets again. Beets are important for the liver and gallbladder. They can be raw, cooked, or grated into a salad. Studies show beets are rich in antioxidants that protect the liver and boost beneficial liver enzymes, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione.6 Beets have also been shown to attach to bile and escort it, with gobbled-up (Pac-Manned) toxins in tow, to the toilet.7 Learn more about the benefits of beets here.
- Fenugreek: Numerous studies suggest fenugreek may be one of the most powerful herbs for liver, gallbladder, and digestive health. Fenugreek works by removing cholesterol from bile and increasing bile acid concentration by almost four times.8,9
- Cinnamon: The benefits of cinnamon have been praised in Ayurveda for thousands of years. The liver and pancreas are sister organs, and in 91% of the population, the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts are joined—suggesting that you cannot address one without affecting the other.10Cinnamon, in Ayurveda, is a scraping herb that supports detox and addresses congestion. It is well-known to support healthy blood sugar and lipid regulatory function, which depends on both healthy pancreatic and liver-gallbladder function.11
- Beet Cleanse: Of course, eating bile-moving foods mentioned 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.
So, what is your favorite way to support your bile, liver, and gallbladder?
- Food Chemistry. 2007, Vol.103(2):676–680, doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2006.07.056
- Guyton and Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 12th Edition. Saunders. 2011