Gallstones are one of the most common disorders associated with the gallbladder, affecting millions of people throughout the world.
Gallstones occurs when cholesterol and other substances found in bile form stones. Once formed, it can block bile ducts and cause complications, such as bile duct infection, inflammation of the pancreas, jaundice, and gallbladder cancer.
Gallstones can happen to anyone but it’s more common in women and older adults. Certain ethnic groups also tend to be more prone to developing gallstones, including Native Americans and Mexican Americans.
Although certain risk factors such as age, race, and gender can’t be prevented, but there are things you can do to reduce your chance of getting gallstones.
1. Maintain a normal weight
Since being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for gallstones, maintaining a healthy normal weight is necessary to reduce your risk of developing gallstones.
2. Eat a healthy diet
A diet low in fat and high in fiber may not only help you lose weight but it may also reduce your risk of gallstones.
Eat plenty of foods that are high in fiber such as fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains, and avoid fatty foods such as red meat, sausages, beef, butter and lard. People who are suffering from gallstones should also avoid fried foods and dairy products.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise regularly may help to reduce cholesterol levels and thus can help prevent gallstones. Exercise is also helpful in combating obesity and diabetes, two risk factors for gallstones. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day to keep your body fit and healthy.
4. Avoid certain medications
There are certain drugs that put you at higher risk of developing gallstones, including cholesterol lowering drugs (such as gemfibrozil and fenofibrate) and oral estrogen pills.
If you are taking one of these drugs, talk to your doctor about your risk of gallstones, and ask if there are other medications that might work better for your condition.