How to Prevent Gallstones in Menopause

By Treacy Colbert, Women’s Health Access

Gallstones (rock-like deposits inside the gallbladder) occur in one out of five women by the age of 60, twice as often as they affect men. Women with gallstones gave rise to the unkind diagnostic cliché, “female, fat, and forty.” Here are hints on avoiding the unwelcome category.

How Things Work
The gallbladder is a collection pouch that accumulates green bile fluid as it drains from the liver. The purpose of bile is to help with digestion, particularly of fats. Cholesterol and bilirubin (a byproduct from the breakdown of red blood cells) are also found in bile.

When cholesterol or bilirubin particles begin to cluster, gallstones start to form. In most cases, they do not cause problems. However, when they become caught in the gallbladder outlet, symptoms including pain, belching, gas, nausea, and decreased appetite can occur. While not a pretty image, think of your gallbladder as a pond, say Larrian Gillespie, M.D., author of The Menopause Diet, and  You’re Not Crazy, It’s Your Hormones.” When the ratio of progesterone to estradiol changes in women, the gallbladder becomes sluggish and doesn’t drain bile as well,” she says. “The bile stagnates and looks like green algae.”

Diagnosis
An x-ray will usually not detect gallstones, but they can be seen on ultrasound or CT scan. If gallstones e found and your symptoms correspond to this condition,you may also have blood tests to rule out liver or pancreas involvement.

Complications
Pain from gallstones occurs when the muscle walls of the gallbladder contract to help empty bile into the intestines. When the muscle contracts against a gallstone, or if a gallstone blocks the bile from draining, a strong, deep ache can occur. If the bile duct is blocked, bile can build up and serious infection in the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas can occur.

Gallbladder Surgery
When gallstones form to the point where pain is persistent, surgical removal is the best treatment option, says William S. Richardson, M.D., chief of laparoscopic surgery at Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. “Unlike heartburn or gastric reflux where weight loss, over-the-counter preparations, or a change of diet may help, with gallstones pain continues in at least 30 percent of cases. Other therapies are not nearly as effective as removal of the gallbladder.”

The surgery is done through a laparoscopic incision in the navel, where the fluid and stones are removed, followed by the gallbladder itself. Patients rarely spend even one night in the hospital, says Dr. Richardson. The recovery period lasts from one to two weeks.

Prevention
Better yet, stay out of the operating room with these preventive steps.

Start with one tablespoon of unsalted butter a day. If you have avoided butter or fat in general, this may sound surprising. But we’re talking about one tablespoon a day, eaten in one serving.

“That contains 10 grams of saturated fat and causes complete emptying of the gallbladder,” says Dr. Gillespie, noting that two studies support this strategy. “The tablespoon of butter can’t be poly or monounsaturated fat, and has to be eaten all at once.” Doling out a third of a tablespoon three times a day won’t achieve he same gallstone prevention step by putting the butter on a generous serving of vegetables.

Second, be aware of changes in your estradiol, advises Dr. Gillespie. Low-dose estradiol therapy can be part of maintaining a healthy gallbladder, among other important health objectives. The studies showing an association between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and an increase in gallbladder disease reflect the use of synthetic hormone preparations, in particular the synthetic progestin, Provera®, she says. If you choose hormone replacement therapy, select a natural preparation, one that is identical to the hormone your body produces.

While Dr. Richardson points out that losing weight won’t remedy a gallstone problem, keeping your weight in a healthy range may decrease the likelihood of developing the problem. Incidences of gallstones are higher in women who have higher body fat ratios. And, if you’re trying to lose weight, take it slowly and sensibly. Sudden and extreme weight loss can also trigger gallbladder problems.


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How to Avoid Common Weightloss Diet Traps

Don’t let these traps throw you off your diet

You’re eating right, even doing some exercise and still the scale won’t budge. You may have fallen into a weight loss trap. See if you can identify which of these sneaky deceptive practices may be sabotaging your weight loss success:

  • Failure to Consider Counting Calories

Even though a low carb diet is more concerned about carbs than calories, you still cannot consume mass quantities of food and expect to lose weight. So calculate both your carbs and calories when journaling your diet, and realize that just eliminating 500 calories a day ( which is easy if you cut out 250 as calories and add 250 calories of exercise a day) can result in a consistent 1-2 pound weight loss per week.

  • Failing to Understand Deceitful Food Labeling

This one is REALLY sneaky, as manufacturers do NOT make a product ONE SERVING size, but rather sneak several servings into their package. Just look at a candy bar. It says a king size bar has only 170 calories, but it’s for ONE THIRD of that bar, not the entire thing. So…read the servings per package amount FIRST. It could save you a world of calories/carb hurt!

  • Eating in Front of the TV

Doing anything that distracts you from focusing on the food you are eating has been shown to result in at least 300 MORE calories per meal than if you ate in silence. This goes for talking on the phone or reading a magazine. So dedicate your meal time to just that – your food and watch your calories/carb consumption stabilize.

  • Eating Only Three Meals a Day

I know this may sound counterintuitive, but people who eat smaller meals more frequently during the day, keep their metabolism stoked and burn more calories. It also prevents you from overating to compensate for feeling “starved”, so consider adding 2 snacks a day of high fiber or high protein foods and watch your weight start to disappear.

  • Denying Food Cravings

Debbie Reynolds once said that “sex is like air…you don’t miss it until you’re not getting any!” Well, the same can be said about denying food cravings. If you’ve been dreaming of foods such as cake, pasta, bread etc but force yourself to eat salads, you could simply end up filling the unmet need with too many calories from other foods. So eat a SMALL portion of whatever you feel you are being deprived of on your new diet plan, and watch how easily the craving disappears.

  • Cooking and Cleaning Alone

I know this may sound strange, but studies show that when you cook or clean up alone, you sample food and are tempted to nibble on leftovers, which can add “ghost” calories/carbs to any meal. So let your family participate in the process so you don’t overeat.

  • Ordering an Entree at a Restaurant

Entrees have been supersized and can add a whopping load of calories/carbs to your diet plan, so always order appetizer dishes instead when eating out.

  • New Diets are Exciting

Let’s face it. When you start a new diet, the change is exciting, but after a week or so, it’s easy to tire of the routine, so you have to change your mindset and look at this as a lifestyle change and not expect every day to offer a glamorous change in your body. It WILL happen, but only over time and with consistency in your goals.

  • Rapid Weightloss is All Fat

Yeah right. Well, that is what many diet plans would like you to think when they offer an induction plan. In reality, all that is lost is a lot of water and even some muscle, so skip the induction phases and just start on the slower, controlled weight change that comes with moderate changes in your diet. Remember, exercise is important to keep your muscles toned and to serve as the furnace for burning more sugar as you work.


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Top 14 Super Foods For Weight Loss

Fill up on these great superfoods and watch the weight drop

If you’re looking for the best way to supercharge your low carb diet, focus on these TOP 14 SUPERFOODS as recommended by Dr. Steven Pratt’s book, Super Foods Rx and my books. It’s easy and delicious to include these superfoods in your weight loss diet plan:

  • TURKEY
  • Turkey has 30% fewer calories and 50% less fat than beef. Similar
    benefits are seen with skinless chicken breast

  • TOMATOES
  • Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and helps to naturally produce carnitine, an amino acid that helps you burn fat.You can also consider watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmons, red-fleshed papaya and strawberry guava, which helps to lower insulin. Gazpacho is a great way to use tomatoes and get all the benefits.

  • BLUEBERRIES
  • These little packages are phytonutrient powerhouses. Consider raspberries,
    cherries, purple grapes
    (I freeze them and pop one in my mouth for a mini grapecicle). Blueberry muffins will be a favorite of your family.

  • SPINACH
  • Another fiber superfood that also contains iron for those with low ferritin levels. Options include kale, collards, Swiss chard, turnip greens,
    bok choy and romaine lettuce.

    Read more

    Top 3 Secret Good Carb High-Protein Grains

    Following a low carb diet plan doesn’t mean you have to eliminate ALL
    whole grains from your diet. You don’t need to give up your daily bread
    or morning cereal if you’re on a low carb diet or have a wheat allergy.
    Just choose any of these Top 3 Secret Good Carb high protein grains,
    used by the Aztecs, Romans, Incas and the Egyptians:

    • Quinoa is a powerhouse of nutrition favored by the Incas.
      It can be turned into a tabbouleh or a high-protein good carb breakfast
      cereal. To cook Quinoa: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in 1-cup
      rinsed quinoa. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. If desired,
      toast the quinoa before cooking to bring out the nutty flavor.
    • Amaranth was the Aztec’s choice for flour, cereal or crackers.
      It boasts a protein content that exceeds ordinary wheat.To cook Amaranth:
      Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil, stir in 1-cup amaranth.
    • Spelt was a staple of every Gladiator’s diet, again having
      more protein than regular wheat. I prefer it as a pasta. To cook Spelt:
      For whole grain, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Stir in 1-cup spelt
      grain; simmer for one hour. For rolled grain, bring 2 cups water to
      a boil. Stir in 1 cup spelt grain; simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

    All these high-protein good carb grains can be found as flour, cracker,
    cereal, bread, pasta or even cookies! And as an added benefit, these
    grains are high in fiber ( and we already know that is one of the keys
    to weight loss.)

    Allergic to wheat? Not to worry. These grains are just what
    you’re looking for to keep your protein levels high. Now, some contain
    no wheat but do contain gluten, which needs to be avoided by those with
    Celiac Sprue Disease. I’ve included a table to help keep things clear.
    So check them out in stores such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats or Trader
    Joes or in the Health Food section of your local grocery store.

    Here’s some great resources for recipes using these ancient grains:

    Gluten/Wheat Content

    Barley gluten
    Oats gluten
    Spelt gluten
    Kamut wheat/gluten
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    Get Hooked on Fish for Weight Loss

    I’m hooked on fish…any kind. Orange roughy, salmon, shrimp, crab…you
    name it, I’ve got my fork in it. I’ve journeyed to foreign markets in
    downtown LA just to select an entire fish to roast with sweet fennel
    and onions inside. But you don’t have to go far to enjoy the health
    benefits of just one serving of fish a week. It’s as close as your local
    supermarket.

    Fish is one of the healthiest sources of protein and omega fatty acids
    IF you avoid shark, king markerel, swordfish and tilefish, which may
    contain mercury. Omega fatty acids can lower your risk of heart disease
    and help keep your insulin levels in check.

    Fish is low in calories as well and is an excellent source of vitamins,
    potassium and other minerals. Since fish contain lots of “good fats”
    it is also low in cholesterol. So which fish should be swimming in your
    food chain?

    • Lake Trout
    • Albacore Tuna
    • Salmon
    • Herring
    • Sardines
    • Crab
    • Lobster
    • Shrimp
    • White fish such as Sole, Orange Roughy, Cod, Sea Bass

    And it’s not necessary to gorge on fish to get the benefits. Just 5
    ounces three times a month is enough to decrease your risk of a stroke
    by 43%. And here’s an extra hint: The fat just under the skin of fish is where most of the toxic chemicals can be found, so if in doubt, deskin your fish for extra protection.

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