The gallbladder is located on the right side of the human body, just below the liver. This is a relatively small (about the size of a chicken egg) but a very important organ. It accumulates and stores bile, which is constantly produced by the liver but is needed only periodically for our digestion.
The body produces from 1 to 1.8 quarts of bile per day. This secretion helps digestion, increases the activity of pancreatic enzymes, and eliminates excess cholesterol and accumulated toxins from the body.
If the production and outflow of bile are disturbed, a person suffers from nausea and bloating, flatulence, pain in the right side, belching, constipation, or diarrhea. Over time, malnutrition leads to the development of gallstone disease; stones form in the gallbladder that blocks its excretory ducts, which can be accompanied by intense pain.
Such acute symptoms require the intervention of a gastroenterologist. However, you may be able to prevent bile stagnation by using foods with special properties. Cholagogue foods activate the outflow of bile and prevent its stagnation and the formation of stones.
Different foods have different effects on gallbladder motility. Some stimulate its activity; the use of others can cause cholestasis (bile stagnation) and lead to stagnation of bile. As a result, the work of the entire digestive system is disrupted.
This can provoke the development of such dangerous diseases as beriberi, osteoporosis, cholecystitis, etc.
Cholagogue foods have a productive effect on the production and bile excretion processes. It is important to have these foods in your daily diet.
Bile and Its’ Function
Bile is a digestive juice that is continuously produced by liver cells, called hepatocytes. Bile is composed of bile acids, lecithin, bilirubin, cholesterol, proteins, and electrolytes.
Through the system of tubules, it is collected in the gallbladder, accumulated, concentrated, changing its’ composition, and stored in the bile between meals.
During the active digestive phase, the release of stored gallbladder bile from the bladder into the part of the small intestine occurs. Part of the new hepatic bile enters the digestive tract directly from the liver.
When partially processed food from the stomach enters the duodenum, bile and pancreatic juice also enter here.
1. Bile inactivates pepsin, the main enzyme in gastric juice that breaks down proteins into simple peptides and free amino acids.
Pepsin is dangerous for pancreatic enzymes. Therefore, its neutralization contributes to the change of gastric digestion to intestinal.
2. Bile acids emulsify fats (envelope fats), increasing their contact area with digestive enzymes.
Further, pancreatic lipase begins to actively break down fats.
3. In addition to the digestive function, bile acts as an absorbent, forming water-soluble complexes of vitamins A, D, E, K, and minerals (iron and calcium).
4. The fourth important function of bile is excretory.
Bile promotes the elimination of lecithin, bilirubin, cholesterol, bacterial toxins, drugs, heavy metals, and bile salts formed during digestion.
Bile also plays the role of a digestion regulator: it stimulates the formation and secretion of new portions of bile and enhances the motor and secretory activity of the small intestine.
Functions of Gallbladder and Bile
- Digestion of fats, namely their emulsification.
- Absorption of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K2).
- Activation of pancreatic and intestinal enzymes
- Neutralization of acidic chyme coming from the stomach
- Stimulation of gastrointestinal motility, which ensures normal stools
- Bacteriostatic action aimed at the prevention of SIBO, SIFO, parasitic diseases
- Detoxification. Namely, excretion of: excess cholesterol, bile pigments, creatinine, plant sterols, zinc, mercury, copper, xenobiotics, drugs and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as steroid hormones.
Symptoms of impaired bile flow:
- Pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.
- Bitterness in the mouth and burning on the tongue
- Weight gain
- Decreased energy levels
- Emotional instability
- Digestive problems: bloating, diarrhea
- Headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia.
- Inflammatory skin diseases: acne, eczema, rash
- Allergic sensitivity due to accumulation of toxic substances
The following symptoms need to be addressed urgently: jaundice, skin itching, bouts of right upper quadrant abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea.