Gallstones, Overweight and Fast Weight Loss
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones are pieces of solid material that form in the gallbladder. Gallstones form when substances in the bile, primarily cholesterol and bile pigments, form hard, crystal-like particles.
Risk Factors for Gallstones
Risk factors for gallstones include obesity ; a large clinical study showed that being even moderately overweight increases one’s risk for developing gallstones. This is probably true because obesity tends to cause excess cholesterol in bile, low bile salts, and decreased gallbladder emptying. Very low calorie, rapid weight-loss diets, and prolonged fasting, seem to also cause gallstone formation.
No clear relationship has been proven between diet and gallstone formation. However, low-fiber, high-cholesterol, high protein diets, and diets high in starchy foods have been suggested as contributing to gallstone formation.
Who Gets Gallstones?
Those who are more likely to develop gallstones are:
- Women between 20 and 60 years of age. They are twice as likely to develop gallstones than men.
- Men and women who are overweight.
- People who go on “crash” diets or who lose a lot of weight quickly.
Why are Gallstones a Health Threat?
A gallstone attack usually is marked by a steady, severe pain in the upper abdomen. Attacks may last only 20 or 30 minutes but more often they last for one to several hours. A gallstone attack may also cause pain in the back between the shoulder blades or in the right shoulder and may cause nausea or vomiting. Attacks may be separated by weeks, months, or even years. Once a true attack occurs, subsequent attacks are much more likely.
Sometimes gallstones may make their way out of the gallbladder and become lodged in the cystic duct where they block the flow of bile, which can cause cholecystitis, an inflammation of the gallbladder. Blockage of the cystic duct is a common complication caused by gallstones.
A less common but more serious problem occurs if the gallstones become lodged in the bile ducts between the liver and the intestine. Prolonged blockage of these ducts can cause severe damage to the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas, which can be fatal. Warning signs include fever, jaundice, and persistent pain.
Gallstones and Weight – Reduce Your Risk
- Follow a balanced diet – easy on the fats.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If losing weight, lose weight at a slow but steady rate.
Weight Loss Advice
For healthy weight control, choose a diet that follows the Food Pyramid Guidelines and offers diet support, exercise advice and “brilliant” weight loss motivation.