Once your food leaves your stomach, it makes its way to the small intestine, where nutrient absorption will take place. On its way, it receives bile from the liver that mixes with other enzymes to break down fats so they can be properly digested and absorbed in the small intestine.
The gall bladder is a pear-shaped organ that sits next to the liver. It stores and recycles excess bile from the small intestine to be used for future meals. When the gall bladder is not functioning correctly or has been removed, it may become difficult to digest fats in the diet, like avocados, olive oil, and nut butters. In this case, supplementation of bile salts and the enzyme lipase may become essential to aid the digestion of fats. This is especially important if you are eating a high-fat diet (like Paleo or GAPS). Coconut oil is easier to digest and requires less work for the liver.
If fats are not digested properly, a deficiency of essential fatty acids could occur, as well as a build up of undesirable fats. The body uses fats to build cell walls, including those of the brain. Some deficiency symptoms of omega-3 fatty acids might include dry, itchy, scaling, or flaky skin; soft, cracked, or brittle nails; hard earwax; tiny bumps on the backs of the arms or torso.
Your liver is also responsible for cleansing and purifying the blood before it gets to the small intestine, as well as detoxifying everything else that comes into the body. It breaks down and stores amino acids which become protein, and it metabolizes cholesterol.
One way to support the liver is by reducing the burden of toxins it has to detoxify. This includes eating organic foods, avoiding meats and dairy products that have been raised with antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids, and that have been fed a diet of genetically-modified corn or soy. Read the labels, and avoid processed foods that contain artificial ingredients, refined oils, hydrogenated fats, sugar, and all kinds of chemical flavors, colors, and preservatives. Read the ingredients!
Some foods that support the liver and gall bladder are artichokes and beets. Bitter foods like radishes, horseradish, dandelion greens, kale, arugula, mustard greens, collard greens, endive, turnip greens, watercress, celery leaves, and parsley help stimulate bile flow. Sour foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, raw apple cider vinegar, yogurt, and kefir can also aid digestion.
Milk thistle, dandelion root, and turmeric are beneficial herbs for liver and gall bladder support. You can find these, as well as digestive enzymes, at www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com
Keep learning to be healthy!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant
1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.