Digestion, Fake Health News, Uncategorized

Misleading Advice on Gallbladder Health

Fake Health News is how I like to describe terrible info on the web that looks official. Here WebMD is giving terrible advice – the same advice that resulted in record amounts of gallbladder removal (300,000 annually).

We can optimize of our gallbladder function by ignoring advice and replacing it with common sense.

The WebMD Article’s Assertions

The article presents a pictorial with the following assertions:

  • Don’t skip meals (bile builds up and can even lead to cancer)
  • Pick whole grains (fiber flushes bile)
  • Get to a health weight
  • Load up on fruits and veggies
  • cut back on fried foods (gallbladder has to work harder)
  • snack on berries, peppers, and kiwi (vitamin C)
  • Avoid crash diets
  • drink lots of water
  • swap in olive oil (great source of fat prompting gallbladder emptying)
  • Get Moving
  • Sip a glass of alcohol
  • Watch your meat, butter, and cheese (saturated fat, raises cholesterol and gallstones – use vegetable oils and low-fat milk)
  • Eat Nuts (high in “health fat”)
  • Lean toward vegetarian (and delicious fat free meals)
  • Don’t try cleanses

Some of these are fine, but some are hypocritical and most are contrary to gallbladder biology.

The physiology

Quick summary. The liver produces bile from cholesterol and stores it in the gallbladder. When we eat a meal that contains fat (and protein to a lesser degree), Cholecystokinin (CCK) is signals the gallbladder to contract and squeeze out bile. We need bile to emulsify and digest the fat. Gallstones can occur when bile backs up and hangs out in the gallbladder too long.

Misleading and Conflicting Advice

The role of fat

They talk out of both sides of their mouth about fat. Some advice is getting low fat foods, but some highlights fat being a great source of fat that prompts gallbladder emptying. Which is it? Well, fat is the most potent stimulator – quite sensibly. Any advice to avoid fat will remove the number one stimulator of gallbladder relase. Hello? Is this thing on? They urge you to lean toward vegetarian because there are low fat options. Are they promoting gallbladder disease or…? If you want bile flow, fat is important.

Whole Grains

I wrote an article about how wheat can uniquely contribute to gallbladder problems, please read it here. A lectin in wheat (and other grains) directly antagonizes CCK, whose job it is to stimulate the gallbladder. I kid you not. By encouraging you to eat whole grains, they are nudging you to decreased gallbladder function and increasing the likelihood for stones. Sounds fun!

Don’t skip meals

More terrible advice. Yes, fats and proteins (BUT NOT CARBS) stimulate gallbladder activity, and fasting tends would not provide that stimulus. However, humans (and countless other animals) have experienced fasting in varied durations for millennia. Yet, we do NOT see urgent gallbladder removals or gallstones for all of history. Fasting is healthy. Stones do not form in the course of a couple days. Read more about Why When You Eat Matters, where I walk thru all the ins and outs about eating (and not eating strategies). If missing a meal causes a gallstone attack, that means you have been following the advice in the WebMD article too long!


The best advice from the article is “Avoid Crash Diets”. The joke is the biggest joke of a crash diet is the low fat (and high carb) mantra pushed for the last couple decades. They remove healthy fats and their potent CCK mediated gallbladder stimulation. In place of fats, whole grains get recommended in large percentages, which further downregulate CCK effects. The combination is a powerful one-two punch that yields an ever-increasing amount of unnecessary gallstone cases and gallbladder removals. Select whole foods found in nature, including quality fat choices.

See more Fake Health News Stories here


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