Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Risk of Gallbladder Surgeries

New research discovered the consumption of staples of the Mediterranean diet, such as whole grain breads, fruit, vegetable oil and legumes, may promote the health of the gallbladder.

Aug. 29, 2017
By Mary West

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The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) may have a pro­tec­tive effect on the gall­blad­der. A French study found women who most closely fol­lowed the eat­ing plan had an 11-per­cent lower like­li­hood of under­go­ing the sur­gi­cal removal of the gall­blad­der, an oper­a­tion called a chole­cys­tec­tomy.

We found that higher intakes of legumes, fruit, veg­etable oil, and (whole grain) bread were asso­ci­ated with decreased chole­cys­tec­tomy risk, and a higher intake of ham was asso­ci­ated with higher risk of chole­cys­tec­tomy,” wrote the authors in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
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Approximately 700,000 chole­cys­tec­tomies are per­formed in the U.S. each year, a sta­tis­tic that shows it’s a very com­mon surgery. The inter­ven­tion is needed when a block­age from gall­stones devel­ops in the bile duct, which results in intense pain.

In the study led by Amelie Barre at the University of Paris Sud in Orsay, researchers exam­ined data on 64,000 women born between 1925 and 1950. Every two years, the par­tic­i­pants pro­vided infor­ma­tion on their lifestyle, health sta­tus and med­ical his­tory.

During the course of 18 years, 2,778 of the women had gall blad­der surg­eries. Those whose diet included more whole grain breads, fruit, veg­etable oil and legumes had a 13- to 27-per­cent lower risk of hav­ing a chole­cys­tec­tomy than those whose diet included the least of these foods.

When researchers assigned MedDiet scores to the par­tic­i­pants’ eat­ing habits, the women with the high­est scores had an 11-per­cent lower like­li­hood of hav­ing the surgery com­pared to the women with the low­est scores.


I am never sur­prised when I see a study out­come like this one that shows an advan­tage of the MedDiet,” natur­o­pathic doc­tor Holly Lucille of West Hollywood, California told Olive Oil Times. The ben­e­fits are most likely due to the fact that it is low in sug­ars and refined foods, mod­er­ate in pro­tein and fruits and high in fresh veg­eta­bles and healthy fats.”

A west­ern diet — com­prised of high amounts of processed meat, rice, pizza, pasta, pota­toes, cake, canned fish and alco­hol — wasn’t asso­ci­ated with an increased or decreased risk of chole­cys­tec­tomies. The one food that was an excep­tion was ham, which was linked to a higher risk.

Because the study was obser­va­tional, it doesn’t prove that fol­low­ing the MedDiet can decrease the like­li­hood of gall blad­der surgery or that ham can raise the risk. Moreover, since dietary infor­ma­tion was reported only once dur­ing the study’s period, it may not accu­rately reflect the women’s diets that may have changed over time. Nonetheless, as the eat­ing plan is linked to an array of health ben­e­fits, it’s not unrea­son­able to include gall blad­der pro­tec­tion as one of them.

Research links the eat­ing plan to either pre­ven­tion or rever­sal of con­di­tions such as meta­bolic syn­drome, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and can­cer,” added Lucille. Studies also asso­ciate it with a reduced risk for rheuma­toid arthri­tis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s dis­ease and even adult acne and pso­ri­a­sis.

My thoughts on the MedDiet are that some­times it’s not just about what the diet includes but also what it excludes. What you don’t eat is as impor­tant as what you do. The body responds amaz­ingly when inflam­ma­tory foods like sugar, trans-fats and processed items are removed.”

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