Thursday, 19 February 2015

When life throws you lemons or stones.................

Make lemonade!  
We all know it helps alkalise your body :)

(that ain't no baby)

So, I think I have mentioned previously that I have been having some abdominal discomfort.   This has gone on for a few months and even though I had it during phase 2 (restricted no fat phase) I still suspected gallstones.   
Like most people I assumed they were caused by a fatty diet, so this of course puzzled me.  How could I have them when I didn't have a high fat diet?

I started reading up on what they actually were and how to deal with them.  
I refused to believe the only solution was to remove my gallbladder.

I was right!!

I had an ultrasound this week to confirm whether my issue was gallbladder related or not.  I figured this way I would know what I was dealing with for sure.  Despite this I am also aware that stones won't always show up.  Plenty of people have a scan and are told they don't have stones then do a flush and find heaps.
My scan showed up loads of very small stones and gravel with no blockages which is good.

This means, my body is working hard at controlling the problem and healing.

Gallstones are not uncommon, particularly the older you get.   Unfortunately surgery is also very common but in my opinion not necessary.

What are gallstones?  
Lets start with the gallbladder first.   
This little pouch like organ works in conjunction with the liver.  These work at processing and breaking down fat and helping us with our digestion.
Gallstones form when the bile contains excessive amounts of cholesterol. When there isn't enough bile to saturate the cholesterol, the cholesterol begins to crystallise, and you get a gallstone. 

Tim Noakes explains it very well.  Describing how years of high carb diets can cause crystals to form in the liver and gallbladder.  Switching to a low carb, high fat  stimulates the gallbladder to produce the bile necessary for digestion, thus starts to remove the stones that have built up.  Occasionally some of these stone will be large and get blocked. This is when people experience excruciating pain and discover they have a problem.

And this is where I differ from the norm.  I (and I am not alone) opt to let my body do what it is meant to be doing rather than have surgery and remove an essential organ.

Originally I thought I should be cutting my fat intake.  I worried that it was aggravating the problem, but after doing this (reducing) for a few weeks I found it was increasing the discomfort rather than lowering it.

It made sense that when I was in phase 2 of the HCG protocol and not having any fat at all that the pain was still there.  If the gallbladder needs fat to stimulate the bile production and isn't getting any then it struggles to aide digestion and to flow enough to flush any stones that have accumulated.  

So, low fat = low bile = increased stones

Back to dr google!

My next question was how can I find a balance in diet and also increase bile production?

I had already discovered that high acid increased discomfort.  
If I have more than two cups of coffee and not enough apple cider vinegar I notice a massive increase in discomfort.  
I upped my ACV to three times a day and made sure I had sauerkraut with each meal, even to the point of sipping the kraut liquid.
This definitely helped!

Because the gallbladder is an alkaline organ, as is the bile contained within it, it only stands to reason that if your acid levels are too high it will impact on the organ and stress it.  Bile will become acidic and this will contribute to gallstones also.

Keeping a balanced PH level helps keep the gallbladder functioning as it should.

The Digestive Detective has a great explanation on how the gallbladder works at making bile. 

"Bile is composed of cholesterol, bile salts (the end-products of bile acids), bilirubin (a breakdown product of hemoglobin from the blood), electrolytes, and water. Water is essential in bile synthesis, as a good deal is used to produce bile from the conversion of cholesterol happening in the liver. Bile serves to emulsify or break down dietary fat and clear cholesterol out of the body. Bile acids, a component of bile, serve other functions, including driving the flow of bile to eliminate catabolites from the liver, emulsifying fat soluble vitamins in the intestine, and aiding in the reduction of the bacteria flora found in the small intestine and biliary tract. ¹

When food digestion is not taking place, bile backs up the cystic duct and enters the gallbladder to be stored. While in the gallbladder, bile is concentrated by the removal of water. The removal of water and electrolytes allows the gallbladder to concentrate bile and store more of it. When we eat and fats enter the first section of the small intestine, a hormone stimulates the gallbladder to contract and spurt out stored bile. The higher fat content of a meal, the more hormone is activated to signal the gallbladder to release bile for digestion. When bile enters the small intestine, its typically accompanied by digestive enzymes from the pancreas such as lipase – a class of enzymes that assist in fat digestion."

After a terrible few days last week I decided this week to increase my fats and have had a great couple of days.

So, what am I doing so far....

*keeping my PH levels at a good alkaline level and sticking with LCHF
*sauerkraut with every meal
*water kefir probiotic
*plenty of leafy green veg
*ACV x 3 tbs daily (apple cider vinegar)
*increased magnesium dose
*remembering to drink plenty of water but not during or immediately after meals
*increased fat intake from low to moderate.

What does a standard day of food look like for me?

Coffee with cream
2 eggs fried in butter or scrambled with cream
2 rashers bacon
1/2 avocado

some nuts,cheese, berries or pate

palm size portion of meat with either salad or green veg mix

Bile is necessary for so many bodily functions and if it is low it can create further problems.  There is plenty of literature out there on how to increase bile production.  I found many of them want to sell you a supplement unfortunately.  That is fine but I would rather use food than take a pill. 

Some foods that aide in bile production are: 
artichokes (top of the list it would seem)
beets/beet tops
raw carrot
turmeric (take care of using this if you already have stones)
flowing health have a great list of foods that love your liver too

I hope that what I am doing so far will prevent the formation 
of any more stones and will continue to decrease the inflammation of my gallbladder and liver.  
Whilst this is good I am under no illusion that it will solve the problem.  This is why I do intend to do a liver/gallbladder flush in the next couple of weeks. 

Once I have done this I will blog some more about the process and the results I have.  There are many methods so I will give you some links and tell you which one I followed.

I really hope others benefit from this post.  I must admit I felt a bit like I had failed.  After feeling so awesome since changing the way I eat it was a bit of a let down at first to discover there were further health issues.
However, I do believe this is still part of the process of gaining wellness.  My body is working hard at eliminating years of toxic build up and this is just another step in the right direction.


  1. Fascinating. Hmmm is that the appropriate word? I'm a sicko like that, I find this stuff fascinating. Some really good insights. I would caution against the gall bladder cleanse of apple juice for a week and then epsom salts, lemon juice etc. I tend to agree that it is a abdominal soap making exercise??? Don't know, maybe/maybe not but I'm just not diving into that one even with a naturopath encouraging it. I'll be interested to know your thoughts down the track

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I too an going to do a flush soon, so I look forward to reading your results.