How This Little-Known Substance Can Transform Your Digestion
Bile might not be the most glamorous of bodily fluids, but it’s certainly one of the hardest working. Produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, this greenish-yellow liquid is an essential player in the digestion process. In fact, bile is a complex cocktail of compounds, including cholesterol-derived bile acids and bile salts, that play a vital role in our ability to absorb and transport fats and fat-soluble nutrients.
The Many Functions of Bile
Bile plays an important supportive role in the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, K, and omega-3s. It breaks down large fat molecules into smaller droplets, which can be further split by pancreatic enzymes for absorption. Bile helps to neutralize stomach acid as it empties into the small intestine. It lubricates the small intestines and stool. Bile helps balance hormones by removing excess levels and transporting toxins out of the liver. Too little bile can cause constipation, while too much can lead to diarrhea. If bile isn’t produced and flowing properly, it can lead to gallbladder problems such as bile sludge deposits or cholesterol stones in the gallbladder.
Causes of Low Bile Production and Flow
Low bile production and flow can be caused by a variety of factors, including gallbladder and liver disease, certain medications, as well as poor-quality eating habits like consuming fried fast-foods and pastries. Additionally, gastrointestinal issues like low stomach acidity, Crohn’s disease, high gluten sensitivity, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also contribute to low bile production. It’s important to note that the gallbladder plays a crucial role in storing and concentrating bile, which is then released as needed. However, after gallbladder removal, bile production may decrease over time, and the effectiveness of the bile may also be reduced, necessitating the use of supplemental bile salts.
How to Maintain Optimal Bile
To maintain optimal bile flow, try the following:
- Stay hydrated: Bile is mostly water, so it’s essential to drink enough water and electrolytes to support its synthesis, flow, and function.
- Incorporate healthy foods: Add foods like beet tops, ginger, artichokes, lemons, limes, dandelion greens, and dark leafy greens to stimulate natural bile production.
- Practice deep breathing exercises: Diaphragmatic breathing can help stimulate bile production by massaging the liver.
- Consider supplementation: Fat-digesting enzymes and bile acids can help replace lost bile and improve fat absorption.
Note: To avoid diarrhea, it’s best to use the lowest effective dose of bile acids and salts for fat digestion. If you have a history of gastrointestinal issues i.e., reflux, heartburn, or diarrhea it is important to consult your healthcare provider.