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Medical studies on gallstones

Fat Fiction > Gallstones > Medical studies on gallstones

Go to Google Scholar and you will find that eating just about anything gives you gallstones (known usually as cholecystitis). Ignore the ones involving rabbits (they’re herbivores, hello? Who gave you access to the lab?), and if you can, most animal based ones. You’re left with:

A high fat diet gives you gallstones: A study of the Pima Indians, suggesting their intake of total fat is to blame. If was marking this, I’d give it Z minus. Pimas were eating less fat than the average American at the time of the study who weren’t suffering from chronic gallstones. For more on this, read my post on the group with the most gallstones in the world.

A low fat diet gives you gallstones: Slightly more interesting. The conclusion “If a low-calorie, low-fat diet is proposed for weight loss purposes, the possibility of increased gallbladder stasis should be considered, with an increased likelihood of developing gallstones.”

You might occasionally have read advice telling you not to skip meals if you have gallstones – because that will keep the bile in your gallbladder for longer, giving time for cholesterol crystals and so stones to form.

A high refined carbs diet gives you gallstones, in particular white flour and sugar. The conclusion:

Consumption of carbohydrate in refined form increases bile cholesterol saturation. The risk of gall stones might be reduced by avoidance of refined carbohydrate foods

What’s shocking about that is that cholesterol levels are going up with a diet of white flour and sugar. Well, not remotely shocking if you’re well versed in real dietary research, but shocking if like me you used to think it was saturated fat that raised cholesterol.

If I’d have found these early on, it would have made life a lot simpler. Instead, I found a lot of other, large scale studies that made it even more confusing

The Italians

This is a major study of gallstones in people in Southern Italy:

In short,

- fat, sugar and saturated fats increase your risk
- exercise, dietary cholesterol, dietary fibres reduce your risk

Fibre is good for you

Part 1: Fibre can decrease the lithogenicity of bile

Part 2) Actually, fibre doesn’t decrease the lithogenicity of the bile, but it does increase turnover

Low carbs are good for you

Low carbohydrate in general protects against gallstones

You eat too much

You heard. Another one.

Sugars bad, alcohol and fibre good, everything else is irrelevant

Read it here.

Being fat is bad

Probably the only consistent connection – obesity and gallstones are well correlated:




You’re twice as likely to get gallstones if you’re female and overweight than if you’re just female for example. So, the two are related, and as you’ll find out, in a very roundabout fashion, caused by the same thing.

And so?

I got bored of finding the studies just to prove the point of how ridiculous it became. With the exception of sugar which seemed to be universally bad in everyone’s book, it seemed like the whole fat vs carb kept contradicting each other. Just when I thought it was the carbs, I found a study showing Western Europeans moving to Australia taking up a high protein/high fat/low carb diet were susceptible too.

Still, all the while I remembered the Pima Indians only needed the addition of white flour and sugar to get gallstones. And then, I found the one paper that nearly solved the whole thing. If the looking at risk factors revealed nothing, maybe looking at cures would...

1 >> Why do you get gallstones?

2 >> How the body creates gallstones?

3 >> Medical studies

4 >> Current gallstone cures

5 >> The gallstone cure

6 >> D Day updates

Confusing pic from Mr T in DC
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