WHAT IT IS: Gallbladder disease is often related to obstruction of the flow of bile from the gallbladder to the intestine, caused by inflammation, stones, polyps, or cancer.
YOU ARE AT INCREASED RISK IF YOU
• are a man and you yo-yo diet (lose and gain weight in cycles)
• are a woman (because estrogen increases cholesterol in bile, which in turn causes stones)
• are obese, especially in the abdomen
• have diabetes
• have metabolic syndrome
• have a history of gallbladder disease in your family
CULINARY MEDICINE FOODS TO INCREASE
• Foods rich in insoluble fiber.
Women who ate the most foods with fiber were 13 percent less likely to get gallbladder disease compared with those who ate the least. Bran and flax are good sources.
• Leafy green vegetables.
vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C, and cruciferous vegetables.
A fifteen-year study showed that women who eat the most of these groups of foods have 21 percent less risk of needing surgery to remove gallstones than those who eat the least.
A twelve-year study showed that men who drink
alcohol every day or almost every day have fewer
gallstones than men who only drink once or twice a week. Regularity, and not quantity or type of alcohol, seemed to be the important factor.
A twenty-year study in women showed similar beneficial effects.
• Caffeinated foods, such as coffee.
Four generous cups (on average, eight ounces of brewed coffee has ninety-five milligrams per cup) of coffee daily reduces the risk of gallbladder disease by 45 percent; eight hundred milligrams safeguards you even more, but buckle your seat belt. “Bold” and “mild” in coffee describes flavor, not caffeine level.
• A vegetarian diet.
Vegetarians have only half as many problems with gallbladder disease. Only 12 percent have gallstones (as compared with 25 percent of nonvegetarians).• Olive oil, avocados, and nuts. During a fourteen-year study it was found that men who ate foods with the most monounsaturated fats had a 17 percent reduced risk of gallstone disease compared with those who ate few or none.
A Chinese study showed that women who drank at least one cup per day were at a 27 percent reduced risk of getting gallstones, and at almost half the risk of getting gallbladder cancer, compared with women who did not drink tea, perhaps because of the antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory properties of tea polyphenols, in particular epigallocatechin-3-gallate.
FOODS TO AVOID
• Foods with high glycemic loads.
In a study with a sixteen-year followup, women who ate foods with the most carbohydrates had a 35 percent increased risk of surgery for gallbladder disease compared with those who ate the least. In a twelve-year study of men, the highest compared with the lowest consumption of carbohydrate more than doubled the risk of gallstones.
• Foods high in heme iron.
Eating too much iron-rich food such as red meat can cause biliary cholesterol crystal formation. A high intake of heme iron increases the risk of gallstones in men by about 20 percent.
• Foods high in trans-fatty acids.
These include those made with shortening, margarine, and hydrogenated fats and oils.
More than forty-five thousand men reported on their diets; after a fourteen-year follow-up, it was found that those who ate foods with the most trans fats had a 23 percent increased risk of gallstones compared with those who ate the least. TOP CHEFMD-APPROVED RECIPES
• Cinnamon Orange Dreamsicle
• Fresh Tomatillo Guacamole
• Toasted Walnut and Creamy White Bean Pitas
WATER-COOLER FACT: Ninety percent of gallbladder disease is accompanied by gallstones.