The gallbladder’s function is to store bile that is produced by the liver. This helps with the proper absorption and digestion of fats. For those with gallbladder disease, the bile has become too thick and concentrated and is not able to flow properly. This leads to increased inflammation in the body and results in the development of gallstones and infections.
There are more than 20 million people in America who have gallbladder disease. Gallstones are a very common digestive problem that affects twice as many women as men in the United States. There are certain factors that contribute to someone being more likely to develop gallbladder disease, and requiring gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) as part of their treatment plan.
Women tend to be at the most risk for developing gallbladder disease. This is thought to be because of the high level of the hormone estrogen for women.
Pregnancy results in an increased production of hormones, including estrogen. Women who are pregnant, and particularly women who have had multiple pregnancies, also stand a greater chance of developing gallbladder disease.
Women who are overweight also have an increased rate of gallbladder disease. Being overweight means that there will likely be a greater amount of cholesterol in the bile, and gallstones often tend to be cholesterol deposits. Even a weight fluctuation like losing weight very quickly can have a negative impact on the development of gallstones.
Around the age of 40, women typically begin to experience symptoms of perimenopause, which results in a significant increase in their estrogen hormone levels.
Having any or all of these factors does not mean that you will definitely have gallbladder issues, but knowing the risk factors means that you can focus on prevention strategies to avoid potential problems and surgery.
Implementing some healthy lifestyles changes including a whole foods, less processed foods diet, along with regular exercise can go a long way to prevent trouble with gallstones. Experts believe that eating foods rich in fiber, antioxidants and calcium is an important part of a healthy diet for the prevention of gallbladder disease.