The purpose of the gallbladder is to store and regulate the use of bile.
Bile flows out of the liver through the right and left hepatic ducts, which come together to form the common hepatic duct. This duct then joins with a duct coming from the gallbladder, called the cystic, to form the common bile duct. The pancreatic duct joins the common bile duct just where it empties into the duodenum through the sphincter of Oddi.
Between meals, bile salts are stored in the gallbladder, and only a small amount of bile flows into the intestine. Food (containing fats and oils) that enters the duodenum triggers a series of hormonal and nerve signals that cause the gallbladder to contract. As a result, bile flows into the duodenum and mixes with food contents.
An adequate amount of bile is necessary for the digestion of fats because it emulsifies or breaks the fat into small particles.
from the pancreas can break the small particles of fat down into individual fatty acids, which can then be absorbed.
Bile has two important functions. It assists in the digestion and absorption of fats. It also is responsible for the elimination of certain waste products for the body (specifically excess cholesterol and hemoglobin form destroyed red blood cells.
Bile is Responsible For
• Increasing the solubility of cholesterol, fats, and fat-soluble vitamins to aid in their absorption
• Stimulating the secretion of water by the large intestine to help move the contents along
• Bilirubin, the main pigment in bile, is excreted in bile as a waste product of destroyed red blood cells, giving stool a green-brown color
• Drugs and other waste products are excreted in bile and later eliminated from the body
• Various proteins that play important roles in bile’s absorptive function are secreted in bile
Bile salts are reabsorbed by the last portion of the small intestine, extracted by the liver, and resecreted into bile. This recirculation of bile salts is known as the enterohepatic circulation.
All the bile salts in the body circulate about 10 to 12 times a day. During each pass, small amounts of bile salts reach the large intestine, where bacteria break them down into numerous components. Some components are reabsorbed and the rest are excreted with the stool.
When the gallbladder is removed by surgery, fat digestion is considerably hindered. Without this organ, the bile, which is continually being secreted by the liver, slowly drains into the small intestine. The tiny amount of bile that drains directly from the liver into the intestine isn’t enough to function sufficiently in fat digestion when even moderate amounts of fat are consumed.
Digestive problems and malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins are the consequence. Bile must be present in the intestine to properly absorb these fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, K, and beta-carotene.
Medium-chain fatty acids don’t require bile or pancreatic enzymes for their metabolism. Therefore, someone who has had their gallbladder removed or is having problems digesting fats (
) can greatly benefit from using coconut oil in their diet.
X-Ray Normal Gallbladder
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