Gallbladder removal is now one of the most frequently performed surgeries nationwide — and women are twice as likely as men to need it.
The reason is that women’s bodies have a higher fat content, and fat fuels the formation of gallstones. Fortunately, avoiding gallstones is easy. Check out some of our tips below.
Drink coffee or tea.
Drinking an extra 10 ounces of caffeinated black tea or coffee each day can cut your risk of gallstones 27 percent, German research shows. Both brews contain plant compounds that — in combination with caffeine— stop cholesterol molecules from clumping in the gallbladder, explains Peter Martin, M.D., a professor of pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.
And butter to your veggies.
If crystals do form, keeping them small long enough for your gallbladder to expel them is key — and eating two cups of vegetables topped with one tablespoon butter or oil daily can help. The phytonutrients in veggies slow the growth of gallstones, and that dollop of fat helps your gallbladder release those tiny crystals, lowering your risk of gallstone-triggered back pain 25 percent, Johns Hopkins University experts say.
Consume coconut oil.
Consuming one tablespoon of coconut oil daily sends your risk of gallstones plunging 50 percent or more, say Johns Hopkins researchers. Coconut oil prompts your gallbladder to release a flood of bile, which sweeps early-stage stones out of your system.
“Gallstones start out tiny,” explains urogynecologist Larrian Gillespie, M.D. “So if you get them out of your gallbladder when they’re small, they’ll never cause any trouble!”
Tip: Coconut oil is delicious spread on top of bread or crackers or mixed into rice, oatmeal, and fruit smoothies.
Taking a 500-milligram curcumin supplement daily flushes out 66 percent of gallstones before they grow large enough to become a problem, Asian research shows. Derived from the spice turmeric, curcumin helps the gallbladder contract and empty during meals, keeping bile from pooling and forming clumps, the study authors say.
Try this one from Sports Research ($18.95, Amazon).
Eat more lentils and veggies.
Eating 1/2 cup of lentils each day lowers your gallstone risk 25 percent — and adding an extra cup of vegetables lowers it another 25 percent. Both foods are rich in soluble fiber and vitamin C, nutrients that reduce gallbladder inflammation, lessening the likelihood of it swelling and clogging, Dr. Gillespie says.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.