Bile is an emulsifier—a type of soap for fats. It breaks
down the fats into small particles so that your
intestines can absorb them. Produced by the liver to
the tune of about one quart per day, bile is made from
lecithin, cholesterol and bilirubin. It is stored near the liver in
the gallbladder. From there, it is transported to the intestines
Here's a NEWSFLASH for you: Bile is not ONLY the real key
to the body's ability to digest and assimilate fats, but it is also
a vehicle for removing toxins from your body so they can be
flushed out through the colon.
Bile is one of the liver's premier detox mechanisms so the
consequences of inadequate bile go far beyond the inability
to lose weight. If the liver can't clear fats, then it most likely
can't break down hormones or other metabolic waste products
either, and you can end up with hot flashes, night sweats, cysts,
migraines and depression.
To put it another way, bile is one of the most underrated
and ignored methods our bodies utilize to move out toxins. The
quantity of bile your body makes is directly proportional to the
quantity of toxins you can eliminate.
If you lack enough fiber to escort these toxins out of your
body, they can remain (along with bile) in your intestines for too
long and are then reabsorbed. This is when toxic overload occurs
with poisonous wastes ending up stagnant in your lymphatics
and getting stuck in the bloodstream, joints and other tissues.
There is already a 75 percent bile deficiency by the time
allergies, arthritis, and inflammation in joints and muscles
develop. By the time cancer or chronic illness is diagnosed, a
whopping 90 percent deficit has already occurred.
If your gallbladder hasn't been doing its job due to a lack
of the right Smart Fats or too much hydrogenated fat or even if
your gallbladder is gone, your body loses its ability to adequately
regulate proper bile flow. Without your gallbladder, for instance, there is still a steady release of bile from the liver, but it is "mismatched" with the amount of oil or fat you are consuming—
whether in quantity or timing. This has a cascading detrimental
effect on your digestion as well as absorption of the fat-soluble
vitamins (A, E, D, and K) and the essential fatty acids.
Moreover, bile can be hampered from doing its job because
of a lack of bile nutrients, congestion or even clogged bile ducts,
which interfere with bile flow and result in less bile production.
Regardless of where the bile is—in the liver, in the gallbladder
or in the bile ducts—the principles of manufacturing, thinning
and moving bile are the same.
Bile helps to break down ALL dietary fats and ALL fat-soluble
vitamins. This is no insignificant task. If you check any decent
nutritional textbook these days and research all the symptoms
and problems linked with fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies you
will find everything from dry skin to indigestion to cataracts and
cancer. Bile also acts as a lubricant for your stool to prevent
constipation. Who knew?
Just as fascinating, French researchers have found that bile
may be connected to our obesity epidemic and hypothyroidism.
They discovered that fat metabolism is sped up by the
activation of thyroid hormones in the fat cells. Could it be that
an imbalance of bile is one of the reasons that hypothyroidism
is so rampant today?
My friend Dr. Raphael Kellman, Functional Medicine guru
and author of "The Microbiome Diet," told me, "I diagnose
many people with hypothyroidism who have been suffering and
undiagnosed for years. I use a test called the TRH stimulation test
that the medical community abandoned when the routine TSH
assays became more sensitive. In 2007, two studies confirmed
what I have been saying to be true. I also treat many with both
neurodevelopmental and degenerative diseases. Recent studies are
showing low levels of T3 in the brain of such patients yet routine
blood tests were normal. Anyway, the point of all this is that I have
been suspecting that, in addition to low hydrochloric acid, there
is also low bile production in so many people with low thyroid
function. So many of the people I diagnosed with low thyroid also
had a cholecystectomy in the past. Many have GI dysfunction that
is consistent with low bile. So I'm with you!"
Let Sleeping Gallstones Lie
Millions of us experience unrecognized signs of poor bile
digestion like bloating, nausea, sluggishness, poor thyroid
function, constipation, hemorrhoids, and dry skin and hair.
Well over 20 million Americans have known gallbladder
challenges while millions more go undiagnosed. Why?
They haven't been able to connect the dots between ALL the
seemingly disconnected—but urgent—SOS signals our body is
sending out loud and clear.
It is a shame that gallbladder removal has become the most
common type of surgery performed in this country, usually due
to the presence of gallstones. Gallstones commonly occur
because of congested bile due to buildup, which results in the
precipitation of stones.
Ideally, treatment should consist of making sure the bile
is thinned, decongested, and fluid—a major focus of my book
"Eat Fat, Lose Weight."
For those who no longer have a gallbladder, it is critically
important to mimic your body's natural output of bile by taking
an ox bile supplement (also known as bile salts). While you may
not be able to duplicate your
body's remarkable wisdom of
knowing just when to release
the exact right amount of bile,
supplementation with bile
extracts can go a long way in
maximizing the process and
assuring that your fat-soluble
vitamins are being absorbed.
Too much bile supplementation
can create loose stools,
while too little can make for
very light or clay colored stools.
The Allergy Connection
If you still have your gallbladder
but are experiencing frequent
gallbladder attacks OR if you have had your gallbladder taken out
but still experience pain (what is called "post-cholecystectomy
syndrome,") you should definitely know about the work of
allergist Dr. James C. Breneman. He identified food allergies as
a primary underlying cause of gallbladder pain.
I discovered Dr. Breneman's landmark work thanks to a
newsletter ("Dr. Jonathan Wright's Health and Healing") written
by my personal integrative physician, the brilliant and insightful
Dr. Jonathan Wright in 2004 with the enticing headline, "The
99.9 percent effective technique for eliminating gallbladder
The article brought to light Dr. Breneman's surprising
discovery that gallbladder pain was significantly related to
food allergies. In his study from the 1960s–70s of individuals
both with and without a gallbladder he found that the major
offenders were eggs (92.8 percent), pork (63.8 percent), onions
(52.2 percent), chicken and turkey (34.8 percent), milk (24.6
percent), coffee (21.7 percent), and oranges (18.8 percent).
Other foods which accounted for less than 15 percent of attacks
included corn, beans, nuts, apples, tomatoes, peas, cabbage,
spices, peanuts, fish and rye.
When his study participants eliminated their food allergies,
they obtained 100 percent relief. WOW! So, needless to say, if
your gallbladder's acting up, give an elimination diet a try. Or, at
least avoid the top three primary offenders like eggs, pork and
onions. You know what you've got to lose!
The bottom line is you simply must ensure that you will
be utilizing all the Smart Fats you will be adding back into your
diet—with or without your gallbladder—for the most complete
digestion, assimilation and utilization.