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Causes of Gallbladder Disease

Many of these causes have an individual page dedicated to them. Please follow the links for more information.

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hashimoto's Thyroid Disease
  • Low stomach acid
  • Food sensitivities or Allergies
  • Gluten Intolerance 
  • Celiac Disease
  • Brain degeneration
  • Overweight
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of exercise
  • Pregnancy (due to excess hormones)
  • Estrogen intake and birth control pills(estrogen increases the concentration of cholesterol in the bile)
  • Progesterone
  • Anabolic steriods, especially those that convert to estrogens and especially oral ones
  • Chronic Heartburn
  • Frequent use of Antacids and PPIs
  • Atkin's Diet
  • Over age 40 and increase in risk as one ages
  • Female especially those who have had children
  • Ethnicity (Pima Indians and Mexican-Americans)
  • High triglycerides, high LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol,
  • Alcohol intake
  • Family history of gallbladder disease (Heredity)
  • Immunosuppressive drugs
  • Antidepressants which slow down gallbladder contractions
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Diseases such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease, Chron's disease (ulcerative colitis is contraversial) Hemolytic anemias, PCOS
  • Very Low Calorie Diets
  • Diet high in saturated fats
  • Diet high in refined foods and sugars
  • Diet low in fiber (which is what the refined diets are) and not enough vegetables
  • Non-fat diets
  • Low-fat diets
  • MTHFR (Methylene Tetrahydrofolate Reductase Deficiency)


The combination of a "civilized" diet, of saturated fats, fried foods, hydrogenated (or fake) fats and white sugar, white flour, highly-processed, nutrient-stripped food, along with a sedentary lifestyle tends to create an environment ripe for the formation of gallstones or other gallbladder problems.

Eating too many of the wrong fats puts you at risk, but people who eat no fat at all are also at risk. No fat in the diet means that the gallbladder works less frequently, which could cause stasis and bile thickening. Moderate amounts of the right fats, such as olive oil, are much better.Although being female is an increased risk for gallbladder disease, according to a study published in BMC Gastroenterology 2002,(1) gallstones in children is on the rise. And men are not excepted either, although the ratio still tends to be 80% women to 20% men.

Regardless of the diagnosis of your gallbladder disease, most of the symptoms will be similar. This is one of the reasons it is hard to know exactly what is going on without several tests. The most common symptoms are indigestion, gas, bloating, burping, belching, especially (but not necessarily) following a meal. It usually is a meal containing fat but after some time it seems to be unrelated not only to fat intake but even food intake. It may progress to constant tenderness or discomfort (unrelated to food intake) under the rib cage on the right side. The symptoms are similar to those of a gallbladder attack but with less severity. For a complete list of symptoms relating to gallbladder problems go to general gallbladder symptoms page.

Even if it does not seem to be connected to food now, if you can remember back, some symptoms of indigestion usually followed a meal. What caused or is causing the lack of fat digestion could be of various origin. A stone could be blocking the bile flow. The gallbladder could be distended due to stones or inflammation. There could be infection in the gallbladder causing tenderness or the tenderness could simply be due to stasis of bile causing distention. The gallbladder could be not emptying fully (biliary dyskinesia) and lack of bile causes improper fat digestion. Or the problem could start in the liver with stasis of bile there and the formation of sludge or tiny calculi slowing bile flow and causing it to thicken.Constipation and weight gain can also be symptoms of gallbladder problems.

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