You might know that the gallbladder is one of those organs that we can live without, but how does it affect us when it is removed? If you are considering gastric bypass, learning about the digestive system and how it works is very important.
The gallbladder is a digestive organ located under the right side of the liver and connected to the common bile duct. Bile is a digestive juice secreted by the liver that helps digest fats along with other functions. The gallbladder acts as a bile reservoir. It collects bile between meals, and then squirts it out, as needed, during meals to help digest food. When you are not eating, the bile is diverted into the gallbladder. When you eat, bile is released into the intestine. When the gallbladder has been removed, the bile simply goes into the system a little at a time, all day long.
The gallbladder was probably very important to primitive humans who ate large quantities of raw fat. Now we tend to cut away fat and cook our food, so fat intake is dramatically reduced. Having a large quantity of bile present at meal time is no longer critical. People generally get along well without the gallbladder.
Gallstones form when there is an imbalance in the bile causing a high ratio of cholesterol compared to bile salts. This type of imbalance often occurs when people are on very restrictive diets. Such is the case during the first 6 – 18 months after gastric bypass. Studies have shown that 30 percent of gastric bypass patients will develop gallstones, and 10 percent of patients will develop symptoms requiring surgical gall bladder removal (cholecystectomy).
Gallstone development following gastric bypass can be prevented two ways. First, the gallbladder can be removed at the time of surgery. Second, one can take a medication. Talk to Dr. Tsuda to see what’s right for you.
To lower the risk, bariatric patients can do a few things:
• Eat a moderate amount of healthy fat as part of your diet. Your nutritionist can advise you on the appropriate amounts and types of fat.
• Work out. If you’re able, you should be getting an hour to 90 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise nearly every day. If not, you should be working up to that goal. Exercise benefits your body in so many ways, including weight management and gallbladder health.
Read more on this topic online at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17483774