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

    Eating Low Carb Burns More Calories

    Eating a diet rich in protein and lean on carbs may burn more calories according to a  study published in the Nutrition Journal. It’s all about the laws of thermodynamics, you know, those silly little equations that claim energy is never lost, except when it comes to exchanging heat. Researchers Richard Feinman and Eugene Fine claim that “a calorie is a calorie” actually violates the second law of thermodynamics, which predicts that various sources of energy will lose more heat when burned. So what does this mean when it comes to dieting?

    Plenty. Protein and carbohydrates are processed differently in the body. Protein has the thermodynamic edge, because more energy is released as heat than is converted into chemical energy or glucose. So although a chunk of steak and a bowl of noodles carry equal calories, the amount of energy the body scours from them to fuel movement or store as fat is quite different.

    This would explain, according to Feinman, why two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine found that those on a low carb, high protein diet shed three times as much weight as those on a low fat diet after six months. Further evidence for this argument can be found in a study done by Dr. Astrup in Denmark, Copenhagen. He studied 12 men in a room and measured scientifically how much energy each man burned when fed a diet high in protein or carbs. Men who ate lean protein, such as pork, put out 4% more heat than those on a high carbohydrate diet, not to mention they lost more weight.

    All this is good news for people enjoying a low carb lifestyle, but don=t expect the diet world to embrace Feinman=s opinion with open arms. Experts still claim the main reason people lose weight on a low-carb diet is because they eat fewer calories. But could there be another reason?

    Unlike high carbohydrate diets, protein triggers a response in the stomach that affects motility and stimulates the release of glucagon, a hormone that helps us to burn previously stored fat. In normal people, within thirty minutes of eating a small amount of protein, glucagon starts to rise, peaking at two hours. In fact, glucagon can stay elevated in blood for several hours after a protein rich meal. This gives your body plenty of time to use the fat stored around your waist and hips for fuel. Combine this with Feinman’s argument regarding the second law of thermodynamics and high protein/low-carb eating should have the metabolic advantage over low fat and calorically restricted diets when it comes to losing weight.

    Diet choices are like hats – not all fit or look good on everyone. But if you suffer from heart disease or diabetes, choosing a lifestyle that emphasizes a diet rich in lean protein, moderate amounts of fats and low glycemic carbohydrates can go a long way towards cheating the Grim Reaper.


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    Good Carbs Lead to Weight Loss

    You read that correctly. Consuming good carbs can lead to sustained weight loss, according to a study in The American Journal of Epidemiology. People who ate more refined grains, starchy vegetables, white flour and similar carbohydrates were significantly heavier than people who ate foods with “good carbohydrates” such as whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds. It wasn’t the total amount of carbohydrates that made the difference, it was the type of carbohydrates eaten that tipped the scales. “There are many factors involved in obesity, but our study found a clear association with eating certain carbohydrates and body weight,” said Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UMMS, and lead author of the study.
    Dr. Ma’s team analyzed data collected from 572 people in Worcester County from 1994 to 1998, as part of a National Institutes of Heath-funded blood cholesterol study conducted by Ira S. Ockene, MD, the David J. and Barbara D. Milliken Professor of Preventive Cardiology and professor of medicine at UMMS. Each subject was followed for one year, with his or her eating patterns charted at five different times during that year. Ma’s team also examined the physical activity of the subjects to control for the variables of exercise and energy consumption, thereby focusing the analysis solely on the connection between eating various food containing carbohydrates and body weight.

    The carbohydrates were classified based on their glycemic index (GI) which is a measure of how much and how fast a food raises a person’s blood sugar level. Foods with a high GI value rapidly spike blood sugar, while foods with a low GI value can help control blood sugar levels. Several other studies have shown that blood sugar levels are related to fat deposition in tissues because, when blood sugar spikes, insulin is elevated and that prompts the body’s fat and muscle cells to absorb the sugar in the blood and store it as fat.

    Carbohydrates are the foods that most severely affect the GI of a person’s diet. Items like potatoes, refined grains, pasta, overly processed breads, starchy vegetables and ingredients such as refined sugars and flour, have the highest GI values. For example, a baked potato has a GI of 85 and an ear of corn’s GI is 60. Other carbohydrates such as whole grains, nuts, many fruits and most vegetables, have lower GI values. A cup of broccoli, for example, has a GI of 0.

    Based on the population in Dr. Ma’s study, people weighed 9.6 pounds less for every 10-point reduction in the combined glycemic index of their diet. In other words, a person with a GI of 95 typically weighed nearly 10 pounds more than someone in the study with a GI of 85, all other factors being equal. “Nearly 10 pounds is a clinically significant difference,” said Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, an instructor in medicine at UMMS and a co-author of the study. “One of the takeaway messages of these findings is that if people can lower the GI of their diet by choosing the best carbohydrates to eat, they should be able to lose some weight. Those lower GI foods can also be helpful for appetite control.”

    Recent national studies have shown that the number of Americans who are obese has jumped 61% since 1991. Today, some two-thirds of Americans are overweight (BMI of 25 to 30), with nearly 30 percent of the country’s adult population now considered obese. The rise in obesity is believed to be a key factor in the dramatic increase in type 2 diabetes in the United States. During the same time frame, several studies have documented a significant drop in the overall fat content of the American diet. That data, coupled with the findings published this month from Dr. Ma’s study, suggest that it is the type of carbohydrate in a person’s diet, along with proper exercise and overall caloric intake, that is most relevant in affecting body weight. “We must continue to examine all the factors that play a role in obesity. In the meantime I hope these findings will help people make better choices in their diet and help those who are motivated, to lose weight and improve their quality of life,” Dr. Ma said.

    So, don’t think you need to avoid eating carbs in your life. Just make wise choices and your waistline will thank you.

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