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Consultancy corner: Low-fat food, crash diets cause gallstones
Talk to people suffering from gallstones and you will find that people who had removed their gall bladder are almost 100 per cent of those who run at the mere mention of fatty food and are strict followers of low-fat diet. This has been my experience.
They are very likely to scream at the sight of coconut, butter, oil, clarified butter, egg yolk and just about everything that is associated with fat. How did they develop gallstones after eating such a health-conscious food? An additional bit of information – many of those had taken Statin drug at some point of time in their lives.
The bile juice, secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, helps in digesting the fat in the food. When the digested food from the stomach reaches the intestine, it triggers the secretion of the hormone named Cholecystokinin. The hormone squeezes the gallbladder and pushes the bile juices out. So, long-time retention of bile juice in the gallbladder is the most important cause of gallstone formation. Regular flushing out of the bile juices reduces the instance of gallstones. Except women of reproductive age and those on hormone therapy, among the rest of the population, those who follow fat-free diet are very likely to develop gallstones.
Restricting the intake of balanced food, including fats, due to reasons like long time and frequent fasting, or crash diets to lose weight, increases the chances of the formation of the gallstones. Intravenous intake of food during hospitalization also leads to gallstones.
Avoiding frequent and long-time fasting, consulting with the doctors during weight loss ‘dieting’ and taking pills to prevent the formation of gallstones and taking cholecystokinin injections when being fed intravenously are advised to prevent the condition. Those with excess weight, diabetics and people living a very sedentary lifestyle too are among the high-risk group.
The presence of these stones can be confirmed through ultrasound scans. In the previous post, I had said that the presence of the gallstones can be confirmed only through ultrasound scan. More than 90 per cent of the times, these stones show no symptoms. These stones are diagnosed only accidentally, when we are performing a scan to find something else, or during general check-ups.
The treatment available depends on the size of the stones. If there are only one or two stones and none of them is bigger than 5 millimeter in size, then you can try dissolving them with medicines, but it’s highly unlikely that the stones would dissolve completely.
It is advisable to start the treatment as soon as you confirm that it is the stones that is causing you the pain and discomfort. These stones provide an ideal base for infections to grow. The acute pain, discomfort and constant nausea you experience are generally an indication that the stones have got infected due to the growth of bacteria and germs. Single episode of pain due to gall stones is an indication for surgery. For some, the pain and other symptoms come and go mildly. In such cases, surgery is prescribed when the gallbladder is more than four mm thick.
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