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The Gallbladder’s Purpose You Can’t Ignore

Learn more about the important role your gallbladder plays.

The Gallbladder’s Purpose You Can’t Ignore

The gallbladder works very closely with the largest internal organ of your body, the liver. The most obvious purpose of a gallbladder is to store some of the liver bile that is produced constantly. Bile aids in the digestion of food. Yet, your gallbladder is more than just a bile storage tank. Your gallbladder helps to ”recycle” some vital properties from liver bile that your body needs. Liver bile contains water, bile salts (that are important in processing fatty acids), cholesterol, large quantities of Sodium, and other important minerals. All bile that comes from the liver is slightly alkaline – it can neutralize acids and has a very soothing effect on delicate tissue.

About half of the alkaline bile from the liver goes directly into the intestinal tract, which is mixed with very acidic, partially broken-down food (called chyme) from the stomach. The rest of the bile goes into the gallbladder before following the same duct to the intestine that liver bile follows. In the gallbladder, bile is “concentrated.” Much of the water that helps keep bile “liquid” and many of the electrolytes – Sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate – are removed. Sodium, potassium, and bicarbonate are alkaline. When they are taken from bile because they are needed more elsewhere, the bile becomes more acidic and thicker. Cholesterol and other elements of the thickened bile can then congeal, solidify, and build up to form gallstones.  

Remember, bile starts out alkaline. It becomes acid in the gallbladder when Sodium and other alkaline substances are reabsorbed from it. Acid bile isn’t produced; it results when organic Sodium is reabsorbed. And organic Sodium is reabsorbed only when it is needed more desperately someplace else. Organic Sodium is vital for neutralizing acids throughout your body. That is why it is reclaimed from the gallbladder. For clarification, the Sodium your body needs to neutralize acids is different from the salt in your salt shaker. Your body can’t use the table salt you put on your French fries. Table salt is sodium chloride that comes from salt deposits in the ground – it is inorganic. The body uses organic Sodium – the kind you get from plants – meaning fruits and vegetables. Most Americans follow diets dangerously low in natural “plant” sodium. If sufficient Sodium and other plant-produced minerals are not available for your body to use, highly toxic acids can’t be neutralized, and your body must adapt to “emergency” conditions.

Of even greater importance to your health, the bile that is now acid leaves the gallbladder and mixes with alkaline bile from the liver. Liver bile that starts out alkaline becomes acid. Alkaline bile from the liver and acid bile from the gallbladder flow into the duodenum to meet with food particles mixed with acid from the stomach. The net result is acid added to acid. Bile is supposed to be alkaline. It is designed to neutralize chyme. Consequently, if the bile is acid when it reaches the duodenum, it can’t neutralize the acid from food before the food makes its journey along delicate tissue of the intestinal tract.

Before the gallbladder was removed, too much Sodium was being reclaimed from gallbladder bile, and the bile became acid. This acid was dumped into the small intestine, where it met up with other acid substances from the stomach. Acid. Chyme can burn unprotected tissue and cause pain, such as heartburn. When the gallbladder is removed, only soothing alkaline bile from the liver reaches the intestinal tract – no pain, no discomfort. Unfortunately, when you have your gallbladder removed, you are merely eliminating symptoms – turning off the smoke alarm. You aren’t solving the problem. Only improving your diet can correct the problem, whether or not you still have your gallbladder.