Gallstones, caused by the crystallization of excess cholesterol in the bile, cause sharp, shooting pain in the upper right of the abdomen. This pain can last from a few minutes to hours; often times, this pain can occur after a high-fat meal.
When infection occurs, or in more extreme cases when the gallbladder bursts, surgery is necessary. The most common removal method is laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, a safe procedure that utilizes a long, thin instrument with a video lens at the tip. The laparoscope gives the surgeon a magnified view of the internal organs. Recovery time is minimal and may require only a short hospital stay.
Who has the greatest risk of developing gallstones? Remember the 5 F’s:
- Full figure
- Fair skin
- Forty and over
While the body does not need the gallbladder for digestion, it’s wise to take preventive measures to avoid this condition altogether. Follow Dr. Oz’s 4-step prevention plan to stay gallstone-free.
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Part of maintaining a healthy weight is eating a healthy, balanced diet. Limit your fat intake, and know your vital numbers, including cholesterol levels. Finally, ban yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting causes shifts in the amount of cholesterol in the bile and increases your risk.
2. Don’t Skip Meals
When you skip a meal, bile builds up in the gallbladder and your body has to wait until the next meal to empty it all out. Eating small meals throughout the day will minimize your risk by regularly moving the bile out of the gallbladder. Healthy or monounsaturated fats, which you can get from foods like nuts, fish, avocado and olive oil, also help to clean the gallbladder out.
3. Exercise Regularly
Inactivity increases your risk and slows your digestive system down, including bowel movements. A slowed digestive system does not move bile out of the gallbladder efficiently. Remember that even moderate exercise can help keep your body’s complex processes running smoothly.
4. Drink 1 Cup of Coffee a Day
Research shows that caffeine can actually reduce the cholesterol levels in bile, thus cutting your risk for developing gallstones.
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