It would be nice to discover a secret sauce that fixes all that ails us, but most likely that will never happen. In the meantime, there’s something pretty amazing our body makes that comes close. It creates beautiful skin, balances hormones, promotes great bowel movements and digestion, removes toxins, and gets rid of stubborn weight. I want as much of it as I can get!
This secret sauce is called BILE.
I’ll admit, talking about Bile is not glamorous or sexy but I’ll guarantee you some ‘AH HA’ s as you read thru this post. And yes, this post is a bit long but it’s worth it!
We usually associate bile with being sick to our stomachs and other unpleasant things. But what if I told you that this greenish looking stuff is actually very important for the function and health of your digestive system and your health in general and many people have insufficient amounts.
If you experience bloating, acid reflux, SIBO, IBS, dry skin, diarrhea, dandruff, or weight- loss resistance, heavy periods, PMS, endometriosis you may have bile insufficiency!
It’s the unsung and forgotten hero of many of the things that do ail us, but of digestion in particular (notice the first 4 things I listed above). Unfortunately, I’ve never heard a gastroenterologist ever say, “let’s take a look at your bile status and flow.” Have you?
So let’s back this up a bit to better understand this SECRET SAUCE and how important it is to know your bile status.
What is Bile: It’s basically made up of choline, salts, and cholesterol. We can get dietary choline from eggs, organ meats such as liver, and beets. We can also supplement, which is what I recommend for my vegans.
Where it’s made and stored: Bile is made in our liver and then stored in our gallbladder until needed. If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, you may have a harder time regulating the flow of bile into the upper small intestine.
What are its Functions: Why do we need it? There are five main reasons.
- Bile acts the same way detergent does, breaking fat down to be absorbed. If there’s inadequate bile, fat will just move through the digestive tract without being absorbed, often causing diarrhea and stools that float. This can lead to malabsorption of our fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E, D.
- It’s a natural ANTIBACTERIAL AGENT. We actually ingest quite a few bacteria and parasites with our food which are usually rendered harmless as long as we have adequate amounts of Bile and stomach acid. As a natural antibacterial agent, bile also helps to prevent our ‘good’ bacteria from inhabiting the small intestine aka SIBO.
- It neutralizes our STOMACH ACID as it flows into the upper small intestine so it doesn’t damage the small intestinal lining.
- It assists in BALANCING HORMONES: Bile is crucial in removing excess hormones, especially estrogen via the digestive tract. So if you suffer from PMS, heavy periods or endometriosis, we might want to evaluate your bile status.
- Essential in the removal of TOXINS: The bile made in your liver combines with toxins and then is transported to you GI tract to make their exit. If you have a leaky gut or have a history of constipation this process will be interrupted.
Why and how we become deficient: Some of us are genetically predisposed to having a harder time converting choline to bile.If you have the genetic SNP called PEMT, you will most likely need to supplement with choline and some other nutrients. I happen to have the PEMT gene, which explains a lot of my life long history of chronic constipation and recently SIBO and dry skin. It also helps to explain my mom’s gallbladder issues, colon cancer and other family member’s problems with diarrhea after eating a fatty meal and chronic dandruff. We all had the same problem of making and moving bile, it was just expressed in different ways.
Estrogen metabolism and balance and bile go hand in hand. Remember in the beginning I explained what made up our bile? Cholesterol, choline, and bile salts. When a woman’s estrogen levels drop, as it does in menopause, her ability to combine choline to make bile can diminish. See my post here to better understand weight gain around the middle and back once menopause hits and how it can be caused by low or altered bile production.
It wasn’t until I reached menopause that my skin became really dry, my constipation became more chronic and my heels started to crack until they bled. I thought at first that maybe it was due to low thyroid (as these symptoms are often associated with low thyroid) but stumbled across bile and digestion and was able to connect the dots to what was going on and with the proper supplementation everything improved ten fold.
How can we support the production of Bile and keep it moving? The most natural way to boost and support the production of choline and bile is to consume choline rich foods such as eggs, organ meat, and beets. And bitters before a meal readies the digestive system for the food it’s about to receive by increasing the flow. Good sources of bitters include lemon rinds, grapefruit, ginger, and actual digestive bitters.
For my clients who’ve shown low fat absorption either via stool testing and/or symptomatically, I’ve found a few products that have made a huge difference for their digestion, BM, dry skin, and even weight gain. I like Gallbladder Nutrients by Seeking Health or Lipotropix by Xymogen.
So putting this all together: if you have any of the above symptoms, you may have an issue with inadequate bile. The best way to conclusively find out is to complete a comprehensive stool test which can be mailed directly to you.
Another way is to experiment with a few supplements and see if they alleviate your symptoms.
If you’d like to have a comprehensive stool test kit sent to your home to complete and mail back to the lab, or would like help ordering a supplement that supports bile production and flow, or would like to chat about what’s up for you right now, please schedule a complimentary call with me. I’d love to be able to help!