Gallbladder, bile deficiency and high cholesterol

Can gallbladder problem or lack of bile somehow cause high cholesterol? Yes it can!

High cholesterol is not a disease per se, but an indication of a problem somewhere else in the body. If you have these symptoms of bile deficiency chances are that your elevated cholesterol has something to do with bile insufficiency.

High cholesterol is a health indicator

Instead of automatically reaching for pills to lower cholesterol you should consider that high cholesterol can also be an indicator of

  • chronic infection,
  • chronic inflammation,
  • low oxygenation (ischemia),
  • oxidative stress (low antioxidants)
  • fatty liver
  • poor nutritional state, or just
  • a recent injury.

Cholesterol is a main constituent of all cells. Any injury to a cell will cause the its break down and spillage of the content, which includes cholesterol. That excess cholesterol is normally removed by the liver. The liver uses cholesterol to make bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder are released at meals. However if this process is interfered with you can end up with high cholesterol.

Bile deficiency caused by the liver

Healthy liver is a major cholesterol manager. It is the liver that decides how much cholesterol is produced and how much it is excreted. There is no simple test that checks for liver ability to produce bile. The only thing you can do is to see if excess cholesterol is actually being eliminated in the bathroom.

If you have high blood cholesterol you want to see that this excess is being passed for excretion. But for this to happen the liver has to capture the floating cholesterol and convert it to bile first.

Do you make enough bile?

One simple glance over your poop can tell you more about the liver than a list of elaborate blood tests ordered by your doctor. If your stool is completely devoid of color or shy away from brown most of the time you may suspect bile deficiency from under-active liver.

Bile contains bilirubin, a pigment left over by red blood cell degradation. Bile is the very substance that gives stool its yellowish-brownish color. So if you see no color, you should think no bile. That’s that simple.

Bile deficiency caused by gallbladder

Has it ever happened to you that the stool looked somehow pale only to get back to its normal color the next day? If your stool color fluctuates the liver may have nothing to do with it and you need to look at the gallbladder instead.

Liver decides on bile production, but the gallbladder is in charge of bile release. If gallbladder has stones they may be blocking its exit. If there is any inflammation or irritation the gallbladder may swell, go into spasm and narrow its exit passages.  If this happens don’t expect stored bile to descend. Stools without bile will be pale.

Gallbladder problem may only be temporary. The stone may reposition, inflammation may subside and spasm may go away. At times when gallbladder is working fine and liver produces enough bile your stool will have normal brownish color. If you see that your stool alternates between pale and normal, suspect gallbladder problem rather than insufficient production of bile and chronic bile deficiency.

Can lack of bile cause diarrhea?

Since bile is necessary to digest fats, lack of bile can cause several problems related to fat digestion. One of them is diarrhea from accumulation of undigested fat in the stool. In that case you can also see oily droplets in the toilet which may be accompanied by a foul smell. Pale stool and oily droplets are give-away signs of definite bile deficiency either due to liver or gallbladder problems.

High cholesterol caused by gallbladder?

If liver cannot use cholesterol to produce bile or gallbladder cannot release the bile you may experience cholesterol back up in the blood and cholesterol numbers will go up. If on top of that you see pale or grey-looking stools, suspect liver and gallbladder as your main culprits behind your high cholesterol numbers.

Normal-colored stools suggest that bile production as well as its release is adequate and high blood cholesterol has different causes. Investigate your diet and pay special attention to dietary fiber, because it is dietary fibre that decides what happens to cholesterol after it end up in the poop.

If there is adequate fibre cholesterol will be excreted. Without adequate roughage it will be recycled. Dietary fibre ensures that cholesterol is excreted by the bowels, rather than being put back into circulation. Diets with inadequate fibre are a much more common cause behind high cholesterol than any gallbladder problem. Start there. How many beans and carrots did you have today?

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