Gallstones are comprised of bile that has hardened. Bile is a digestive enzyme made by your liver to aid in digesting foods. These pebble-like structures are classified as either cholesterol stones or pigment stones. Cholesterol gallstones are this made out of hardened cholesterol, and make up for 80 percent of reported gallstone cases. Pigment gallstones are made out of bilirubin, which is a compound found in bile.
While the development of gallstones is determined by several factors such as gender, heredity, diet, weight and age, preventing gallstones may be done by altering your diet. According to natural health proponents, drinking coffee may help prevent gallbladder stones from occurring. Although there is some scientific information that supports this claim, the scientific community requires further investigation to determine the true value of coffee for gallstone prevention.
As stated earlier, there is not a lot of information regarding the true effectiveness of coffee for gallstone prevention; and information that is available is conflicting. The “European Journal of Epidemiology” published a study where participants were encouraged to drink coffee. At the end of the study, researchers noted consuming coffee did not prevent the development of gallstones, but rather increased the likelihood of developing gallbladder stones among those who have gallstone disease. However, the participants who did not have gallstone disease did not show an increase in gallstone development.
The “British Medical Journal” published a study in its June 1999 issue where male participants were instructed to drink two to three cups of coffee per 24-hour period. At the end of the study, researchers found that these men had a four percent lowered risk of developing gallstones.
Male participants who consume more than four cups of coffee per day actually showcased a 45 percent lowered risk of gallstone development.
Researchers responsible for this study believe that the reduced risk of gallstone development is due to the caffeine content of coffee rather than the actual coffee.
Although these findings are promising, it is important to discuss the use of coffee to treat or prevent gallstones with your physician. This is especially important if you have gallstone disease or are prone to developing gallstones.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gallstones
“European Journal of Epidemiology”: Relation of Coffee, Green Tea, and Caffeine Intake to Gallstone Disease…
“British Medical Journal”: More Coffee, Fewer Gallstones